Dogs, like humans, reflexively cough whenever their airway is irritated.
When dogs cough, this enables them to purge any contaminants that have traveled into the respiratory tract. Coughing will help your dog to keep his breathing passages clear of any potentially hazardous blockages.
How about when you notice your furball coughing directly after he has taken a lengthy gulp of water, though?
Again, this is often a natural response to a small amount of water that works its way into the airway of your dog. If this occurs, he is likely to cough a few times. This reflex action should clear the passage.
There are some instances in which a dog coughing after he drinks water could be indicative of a serious underlying medical condition. Today’s guide will help you to establish whether canine coughing is a natural and benign reaction or something more serious.
Why Do Dogs Sometimes Cough After Drinking Water?
Dogs need to drink water so that they stay fully hydrated. Most dogs will drink whenever they feel thirsty, and they also tend to gulp down water after they have exercised. This helps to cool them down and to replace lost fluids.
Now, there are many different reasons why your dog might start coughing after he drinks water. Some of these are fairly benign, while others can be dangerous and require veterinary intervention. The more you know about these different scenarios, the more readily you can take action if required.
Here are the most common causes of dogs coughing after drinking water:
- Your dog was drinking too quickly
- Your dog has a cold or an illness
- Your dog’s airway is blocked
- Your dog has developed a condition called hypoplastic trachea
- Your dog has a collapsed trachea
- Your dog is reverse sneezing
Your dog was drinking too quickly
If you have ever gulped down a glass of water too quickly, you likely experienced the water traveling down your windpipe rather than your esophagus. This usually triggers reflexive coughing in an attempt to clear the airways.
The same issue can occur in dogs. Your pup’s trachea (windpipe) is protected by a flap known as the epiglottis when he eats or drinks. This flap closes over, preventing food or liquid from entering your dog’s lungs.
If a dog laps at his water bowl too quickly, the epiglottis might fail to function properly. If this happens, water can work its way into the air tract, irritating the tissues within. The dog’s muscles will then contract automatically. This expels the fluid and also triggers a coughing fit.
While a dog drinking too quickly might seem benign, it can provoke more serious issues than coughing. The quicker your dog laps at water, the more air he will take in. An excessive intake of air can lead to potentially life-threatening complications like abdominal distension.
Your dog has a cold or an illness
Does your pooch come into contact with other animals? If so, he could contract an illness that brings about coughing. Some respiratory diseases cause throat irritation and coughing to encourage the more efficient spread of the disease.
One of the most common ailments that affects domesticated dogs is kennel cough. This can cause hacking fits of coughing after drinking. Kennel cough is clinically termed canine tracheobronchitis. The disease is the result of infection with adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, or Bordetella bronchiseptica.
Often, shelter dogs will come home with kennel cough. Dogs can also catch this illness by interacting with other dogs or by touching contaminated surfaces.
If your dog has kennel cough, his windpipe will appear irritated and inflamed. Often, this is accompanied by discharge around the eyes and nose. In most cases, rest, plenty of fluids, and lots of love will restore your dog to normal after a case of kennel cough.
Your dog’s airway is blocked
Solid materials can also block your dog’s airway and trigger episodes of coughing. If a solid object becomes lodged in his trachea, this will trigger muscle spasms as well as coughing as the body attempts to expel the foreign object.
If this happens, you might find that it is a chunk of kibble or food that failed to get past the epiglottis. Coughing will almost always eliminate these food particles, eliminating any threat to the dog’s airways or lungs.
If treats like rawhide or bone splinter, this can create a potentially lethal obstruction. Hacking and coughing may expel this splinter, but you might need to take your dog to the vet.
Cooked bones are most prone to splintering. These are drier than raw bones, and they are also more brittle.
Your dog has developed a condition called hypoplastic trachea
Tracheal hypoplasia is an unavoidable genetic condition that can affect any breed of dog. The condition is most common, though, among the following brachycephalic breeds:
If your dog has a hypoplastic trachea, this means that it’s underdeveloped, with smaller and narrower airways. The muscles and cartilage rings around the esophagus are not able to properly support the windpipe and they do not allow food or water to pass through as they should.
Dogs suffering from tracheal hypoplasia are more prone to coughing and spluttering because of their narrow esophaguses. There is not enough space for the water to flow properly, meaning that fluid can often get pushed back into the digestive tract.
Although there is no cure for this condition, cough suppressants and other medications can be an effective treatment. Consult your vet if your dog has tracheal hypoplasia.
Your dog has a collapsed trachea
Collapsed tracheas are also relatively commonplace among the brachycephalic breeds outlined above. If your dog’s throat muscles are unable to maintain their shape, his windpipe will progressively weaken, eventually collapsing. This leads to less space inside for air, food, and water.
If a dog’s trachea collapses, this often impairs functioning of the epiglottis. The flap will no longer be able to seal off airways when the dog eats or drinks, leading to uncontrollable coughing fits. This will also heighten the chances of foreign objects making their way into the dog’s lungs.
If a dog suffers from tracheal collapse, this can be complete or partial. Early diagnosis will streamline treatment and simplify preventative care, so reach out to your vet and take action.
Your dog is reverse sneezing
Canine breeds with short muzzles or snouts often suffer from a phenomenon known as reverse sneezing when they drink water. When this occurs, the dog will inhale air instead of blowing it out through the nose. This often causes coughing and spluttering when a dog drinks water.
Although reverse sneezing might sound worrying, it is typically harmless. In some scenarios, though, it can prompt a distended belly in the dog. The symptoms of reverse sneezing are similar to those of a collapsed trachea. The best bet is to consult with your dog’s vet to remedy coughing after drinking.
What Does it Sound Like When Your Dog Coughs?
If you notice your dog starting to cough after drinking, you should observe his behavior. You may be able to determine whether a particular sound is reason enough to take your dog for an emergency visit at the vets.
You should try to establish when your dog coughs the most. Does he cough mainly at night, or does he often cough while he is exercising? Maybe your dog starts coughing when he is laying down.
When dogs cough, the sound can different significantly. Here are some of the most common canine coughs:
- Dry cough: A dry cough, commonly known as a hacking cough, will sound as though your dog has something stuck in his throat. A raspy or hacking cough is typically the result of kennel cough. Kennel cough is a contagious upper respiratory disease common in dogs. The other common cause of dry coughs is canine influenza.
- Wet cough: A moist-sounding cough that sounds as if your dog is gargling or coughing up phlegm is a common sign of dog pneumonia or dog flu. You should consult your dog’s vet immediately if you detect this kind of cough.
- High-pitched cough: If your dog sounds just like he is gagging, this could indicate a sore throat, an irritation of the upper airway, or a blocked trachea.
- Honking cough: If your dog has a dry and deep cough that sounds like the honking noise made by gooses, this is likely symptomatic of a collapsed trachea.
It is not just the sound of your dog’s cough that is important, but also the timing of the coughing. If your pup only coughs at night, this can point to a medical condition, as outlined above.
The more information you can relay to your vet, the more effectively he can intervene, preparing a canine treatment plan if required.
What To Do If Your Dog Coughs After Drinking Water
If your dog frequently coughs after he drinks water, there are some simple steps you can take to alleviate this.
- Training: Many dogs cough after drinking for no other reason than they are drinking too quickly. You can train your dog to drink less vigorously by restricting their supply of water. Alternatively, try adding some ice or some doggie toys to their water bowl. You can also find devices that limit the amount of food and drink your pooch can access.
- Quarantine of infected pets: Have you got several pets at home? If so, you should consider quarantining sick animals to protect the healthy pets at home. It is also worth quarantining pets you bring back home from a shelter, pet store, or breeder. These animals could be carrying kennel cough or colds, so it is best to separate any newcomers for a minimum of two weeks. This should allow any illnesses to pass.
- Visit the vet: If your dog’s coughs persistently and the issue doesn’t clear up within a few days, you should consult your dog’s vet.
Today’s guide should have cleared up any confusion concerning what you should do if your dog starts coughing after gulping down some water.
There are many different reasons why dogs might cough and splutter after drinking and not all of these are dangerous or harmful. You should now be capable of determining which potential reasons require intervention and veterinary assistance.
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