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What can I do about my dog’s persistent cough?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Our question this week was:

Hi Dr. Debra. I wrote you earlier about my 5-month-old Aussie who has had a cough from the time I got him in February. At the time he was being treated for kennel cough. This week I took him to a new vet for a 2nd opinion because he is still coughing. He did a complete work up including a fecal, radiographic study ( X 2), blood collection, and CBC. After getting all results, he believes that my dog (Buddy) has scar tissue on his right lung from an untreated illness. No other parasites/fungus showed up. His white blood cell (WBC) count was 23,000, and he did not seem concerned. He thought it was a little high due to the added stress put upon my dog from all the tests. He also told me that because of the scar tissue on his right lung, my dog will probably always have the cough, and will have a low immune system. I was just wondering what your thoughts are on this issue, and if you agreed with my vet, or if you think I should have him checked elsewhere?? I hope you are able to respond, because I just need a piece of mind that there isn't something else seriously going on with Buddy.

Thanks Dr. Debra

Lisa Lefeber


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email Lisa. Sorry to hear about your dog. You wrote that Buddy has had a chronic cough and the tests came out negative.

There are lots of reasons for dogs to cough, as you know. It sounds like all the tests he did were very reasonable. I think the WBC count of 23,000 is a little higher than what I am comfortable with.

If he is still coughing – you vet may want to do a couple additional tests. This may be something he can do or he may refer you to a specialist. Two tests that come to mind include a Bronchoalveolar Lavage in Dogs (this test allows them to take a sample of fluid from the lung which they can look at for abnormalities) and bronchoscopy. I've seen dogs with respiratory foreign bodies or infections that have persistent coughs. I'm not sure what is going on but that is a long time to have a cough in a young dog.

I inserted some links above that will give you a little more information about these tests and diseases.

Best of luck!


Dr. Debra



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