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Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
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I have a question about my 8 year old german shepherd, 3

Customer Question

Hi
I have a question about my 8 year old german shepherd, 3 days ago on returning from a walk she gagged badly and wretched for a few minutes so I wondered if she had got something in her mouth or stuck, over the next 6 hours whenever she drank water she would gagg badly after one sip but not bring anything up or vomit. Then after this period all symptoms stopped so we thought it was done with.
36 hours passed with no problems then when she barked she would cough or wretch just once or twice at the beginning then bark proper after this, she has been like this for about 1 day now, just giving one wretch or cough not sure how to describe, every now and then when moving around or barking. About 10 times a day I would guess.
Gums are pink and everything else healthwise is fine, drinking and eating with no problems at all and energy to burn as normal, could this be a stratched throat causing this from whatever happened 3 days and could it pass? She has no problems when resting.
Thanks, paul
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 5 months ago.

Hi Paul - I'm Dr. Sara. I'm a licensed veterinarian in the US who works exclusively with dogs and cats. I'm sorry to hear that Kola has been coughing and gagging - I will do my best to help.

There will be a delay of 5-10 minutes as I type up some thoughts for you.

~Dr. Sara

Expert:  Doc Sara replied 5 months ago.

It's certainly possible that Kola had ingested something that irritated her throat or aspirated a little bit of water or food.

In a young otherwise healthy dog who develops a cough but is still eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, and acting normally, I am most suspicious of an infectious cough. Saying "my dog has kennel cough" is a lot like saying "I have a cold" - we don't know exactly what infectious agent is causing it, but for the majority of us, it makes you feel crappy for a while and then it passes. The same types of infectious respiratory diseases can happen in dogs - where they cough and potentially have other signs like sneezing, etc, and they get over it own their own. The red flags to look for that would indicate we need veterinary care are extreme lethargy, high fever (over 103 rectally), not eating or drinking, any sort of labored or distressed breathing, or coughing up green or yellow mucus. Since most of these end up being viral, I don't always prescribe antibiotics, however if the cough is severe enough for my clients to bring their pets in for an exam, I usually do send at least cough suppressants. If he's been any other dogs lately, such as at a dog park, doggy daycare, pet store, or groomer, then I'd suspect she was exposed there. Having said that, I see many dogs who have no obvious or known exposure to other dogs - these diseases are airborne and stick to clothing and are very contagious, so direct contact with other dogs isn't mandatory to catch one.

There's an off chance that a cough in a young dog could be a sign of tracheal collapse or a heart condition, but these are uncommon. I would call your vet when you can, especially if you're seeing any of those "red flag" items I mentioned or her coughing is keeping her up at night or causing her to have difficulty eating or drinking.

Please let me know what questions I can handle for you.

~Dr. Sara

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