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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16534
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hi, My do Jasper,an 11 year old sheltie, has a dreadful choking

Customer Question

Hi, My do Jasper,an 11 year old sheltie, has a dreadful choking cough which he has had for some time now. It is worse upon exertion but his eyes are bright and he is lively with no loss of appetite. He is always licking his fur and may have swallowed a lot of fur over the years. I have treated him with Panacur for 7 days with no change in his condition so assuming it isn't lungworm. I am taking him to see his vet on Saturday when I am off work but was wondering if you may have any ideas or suggestions for me. Thanks in anticipation, Julie
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear that Jasper has a cough and I understand that you are concerned about him. I am glad to hear that he seems bright and alert otherwise though. Fur in the throat could lead to a quick cough/gag, but should not cause a chronic cough.

A cough simply means he is experiencing airway irritation.

A cough can be related to heart disease, including heartworm, lung disease secondary to a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection or tracheal irritation due to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. A collapsing trachea is also a possible cause. In these patients the cartilage rings that keep the trachea open weaken over time and the trachea collapses. This collapse tends to worsen with excitement or stress as the respiratory rate and force increases, so that would fit with him.
Unfortunately because he is an older fellow we must also consider cancer as a cause for his cough.

In dogs infectious disease is by far the most common cause of a cough. Of those kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis is one of the most common causes. If he has recently been to a boarding kennel, groomer or around lots of dogs such as a dog park or obedience school and the cough has been present for less then 3 to 4 weeks then kennel cough would be high on my list of possible problems.

If you are in an area with heartworms then heartworm would be another possibility. Lungworm is seen with some frequency in the UK, but I would have expected an improvement with Panacur.

A fungal infection is possible as well, though less likely because these dogs usually get sicker over time, lethargic and febrile, and he seems fine otherwise.

I'm glad to hear that he seems to feel fine otherwise but because his cough is lingering then seeing his veterinarian for an examination and some testing is ideal. I would check a complete blood count, take radiographs of his trachea and chest, and run a heartworm test to start.

As far as controlling his cough in the menatime, try to keep him as quiet as possible. The more active he is the more he will cough and the more she coughs the more irritation of his respiratory system occurs, making him more likely to cough more.

Use humidifiers to moisten the air that he breathes as that is soothing to his airways. You can also take him into the bathroom with you when you run a hot shower or bath so he can breathe in the steam.

In case this is related to tracheal disease I recommend using a harness rather than a collar as that will be less irritating to his trachea, putting less pressure on it if he pulls on walks.
Best of luck with Jasper, please let me know if you have any further questions.