My 9-year-old black lab / border collie mix has had a very unusual cough for the past couple days, in addition to being a bit lethargic and more thirsty than usual. I suspect he may have caught kennel cough or something similar via a stray that followed me home a week and a half ago. They didn’t have any direct contact with each other, but I know that infections can be transferred from one animal to another via humans touching the dogs.

The cough starts off sounding almost like he’s choking on something. This continues for about five seconds, then ends with a very loud, hollow cough (kind of like the hoarse cough you get during an episode of bronchitis, but only a single cough instead of a fit or pairs). During this final cough, my dog always opens his mouth up widely and points his face toward the ground as if he thinks he’s about to vomit, although he isn’t coughing anything up (that I’ve seen thus far, anyway). It’s a little bit like a cat coughing up a fur ball, sans the puking and with coughing instead of gagging. These "episodes" occur off and on throughout the day, and seem to be triggered by him getting excited and/or barking at something.

Other symptoms are lethargy, increased thirst, decreased appetite, drooling a bit more than usual (but not frothing) and possibly a mild fever (feels warmer than usual when I rub behind his ears). He’s not severely ill or anything like that, just not quite 100%.

I’m planning on bringing him to the vet tomorrow after work if the cough hasn’t cleared by then, but in the mean time, is there anything I can do to help him feel better? Is this likely to clear on its own, without antibiotics or the like? Also, he has some age-related muscle deterioration in his hind legs — is it possible that the infection could make the wasting worse, or vice versa?

Thanks.

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Filed under: Kennel Cough Symptoms

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