Sprint and Hack: Why Your Dog Coughs After Running
Your dog looks so beautiful when he runs. Majestic, even. Your heart swells with pride as your take in his accelerated gait. Then he hacks up a lung as soon as he stops. Again. The majesty is over, and you’re left to wonder: Why does he always do that?
Why a Dog Coughs
There are several reasons why your pooch could be hacking. Some of these conditions could simply relate to having a tickle in the throat or having a bit of food or drink that “went down the wrong pipe.” You know – the kind of mild stuff that we humans are occasionally subject to.
Other times, it could be part of a condition that is built around persistent hacking. The most famous of these particular conditions is tracheobronchitis, more commonly referred to as kennel cough. Various viral infections such as exposure to certain fungi could also be the root of the issue.
In some cases, a cough could be symptomatic of more serious illnesses. Some of these conditions can be prevented through vaccinations such as distemper. Other ailments such as heart disease or cancer require significantly more care than a mere annual shot.
Is Exercise a Cause of Coughing?
From a purely technical standpoint, your dog will not develop a coughing condition from exercising. However, his daily walk or romping session may work to exacerbate any hacking-related issues that may otherwise crop up.
The reason for this is physiological in nature. When a dog gets excited or otherwise worked up – something that running or other forms of exercise are bound to do – his bodily functions are naturally going to accelerate. Naturally, one of these conditions is breathing.
If your pooch merely has something in his throat – say, he happened to inhale a bit of dust or something during his run – he will be more likely to hack just because the reaction to do so will be naturally accelerated. If he has a condition like kennel cough or chronic bronchitis, the persistence of the cough could also increase.
After a certain period, when the body has had a chance to decelerate, you should see the instances of coughing dissipate to a normal pace. This is because your pooch's body will have adjusted to its functions on a normally regulated basis. If your pooch merely picked up something in his throat during exercise, the coughing will probably completely cease.
Exercising with a Cough That’s Known to be Chronic
The fact that exercise will exacerbate a cough begs a rather important question if your dog suffers from a condition where persistent coughing is afoot. Specifically, should the dog exercise when he’s coughing?
The short answer: You should shut down your dog’s exercise as much as possible. However, this may lead to a host of problems if you don’t go about it the right way. Simply put, you need to be in tune with your dog’s personality as much as you can to get him over the hump.
First thing’s first: you should still allow you and your dog to do basic physical activity. If putting your dog on a leash and going for a stroll is part of your daily routine, you should keep it on the schedule. This will keep your pooch in good spirits, even if he’s feeling under the weather.
With that being said, you should restrict your dog from doing anything beyond the basics. Any vigorous activity is going to increase the chances of coughing to occur. If your pooch happens to have kennel cough, for example, over-exertion is going to cause the problem to linger longer.
Keeping an Active Dog Under Control
While this may not sound too difficult, it can be somewhat of a tough task depending on the dog. Some breeds thrive on activity due to instinct, such as a border collie or dogs found in working or herding classes. In these cases, they may be practically begging you for physically stimulating activity.
Their desire to get back at it makes a lot of sense if you look at their situation from your own experience. When you’re sick, chances are the last thing you want to do is take it easy. After all, there is work to do, bills to pay, and obligations to meet, right?
While an inherently active dog doesn't share your financial or social obligations, he does share your spirit to have as little downtime as possible. To make matters even trickier for you, these types of breeds tend to get a little destructive when they get bored due to inactivity.
Because of this, owners of active dogs need to walk a very fine line between completely cordoning off activity and allowing them to run around freely. During this time, it’s wise to show your pooch lots of love and affection. This is so he can be made aware that he’s not suddenly being punished for some behavior.
The Road to Recovery
If your dog has a persistent cough, you should schedule an appointment with the vet. That way, your pooch can get the right treatment for whatever may be the cause of the hacking. You also may be able to ascertain a timeline as far as when you can expect your pooch to return to his old self.
When this does happen, it’s important that you don’t try to rush him into his old exercise routine. Your dog may even try to push you into jumping back into the old routine the moment the cough disappears. If that happens, refrain from caving to his desires and keep things slow.
Ultimately, when your dog’s cough finally gets knocked out, the two of you can get back to playing around and being active. Your dog won’t care about what he missed out on because you rested him, as he’ll be too happy to care. And from your perspective, it will undoubtedly feel great to have a dog that won’t produce a hacking cough whenever he starts to run.