What would cause a dog to start coughing whenever he is taken for a walk?
If your dog starts coughing every time they go on a walk, then I would certainly be concerned about them and I think you should take them to your vet for a check-up.
Some small breeds of dog, especially Yorkshire Terriers, are prone to a condition called ‘Collapsing trachea’ where the wind pipe collapses on itself, especially when they exercise or get excited. This causes a violent coughing reaction to force it open again. Over time the condition will worsen as the trachea gets weaker. Treatment is usually steroids to reduce the inflammation and your vet will probably advise they are walked on a harness rather than a collar. In some cases surgery can be performed to strengthen the windpipe.
Heart disease can also cause your pet to cough, again particularly when they exercise or after they have been resting. In many forms of heart failure, the heart enlarges, pushes on the lungs and irritates them, also, there is often a build-up of fluid in the lungs because of the weakened heart, both of which will cause your dog to cough.
Heartworms are a common cause of coughing in dogs if they haven’t had preventative treatment. They are transmitted by mosquitoes and the adult worms live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels in the chest. An infection can be extremely serious and treatment, although often successful, can be complicated.
Some dogs, especially small, elderly terrier breeds, can develop chronic bronchitis as they age. This causes the lungs to become stiffer and leads build-up of mucous, which the dog can only clear by coughing. The cough often occurs at exercise because they will be breathing more heavily and using more of their lung capacity.
Your vet will be able to examine your dog for all these conditions, and others, in a consultation. They are likely to pay particular attention to their chest and will listen with a stethoscope to their heart and lungs. All of these illnesses can be treated very effectively but the sooner they are caught, the better!
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