Great Dane Coughing: Possible Causes + When To Seek Help

Great Dane coughing can be alarming whether it is a hacking cough or any other type of cough. It is not pleasant to hear your dog cough especially also if accompanied by a change in breathing patterns.

Coughing is a normal natural physical reaction of getting dust or any material from the airways.

But what other factors lead to Great Dane coughing? 

Let’s look at the common reasons why Great Dane coughing occurs.

Here's Why Great Dane Coughing Happens

Common causes of Great Dane coughing include heart disease, tracheal collapse, sore throat, lung problems, kennel cough, distemper, canine influenza, cancer, heartworms, allergies, and foreign objects in the throat. Occasional coughs are normal but frequent coughs are a sign of an underlying problem.

great dane coughing

Common Causes of Great Dane Coughing

The most common causes of Great Dane coughing include:

Heart disease

Heart disease causes rapid breathing and coughing, among other symptoms. It is common in older Great Danes. 

If your Great Dane has been diagnosed with heart disease, they may cough when resting, lying down, or sleeping, when the condition worsens.

Tracheal collapse

Tracheal collapse occurs when a Great Dane’s windpipe collapses and flattens which leaves a small passage for air to flow into the lungs.

The collapse occurs dues to tracheal cartilage collapse. The restricted airflow through the trachea causes a Great Dane to have respiratory distress, cough, and also gag when eating or drinking.

Tracheal collapse is common in middle-aged or older small breed dogs but can also occur in large breed dogs such as the Great Dane.

Respiratory infections

Respiratory infections of the airways, upper respiratory tract, and lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, lead to coughing.

Infections such as kennel cough, sore throat, or pneumonia are common respiratory infections in Great Danes that lead to coughing. 

Related: Do kennel coughs sound like hiccups?

Environmental allergies

Allergic bronchitis is caused by the inhalation of irritants such as dust, pollen, aerosol spays, mildew, dust mites, grain mites, or cigarette smoke.

It is a persistent inflammation of the lower respiratory tract which leads to airway swelling and constriction of airflow into the lungs. 

The inflammation also causes the production of mucus in the bronchial tubes which further narrow the airway. 

Great Danes with bronchitis have a dry hacking cough that worsens during exercise or when overexcited.

Scarring of the airways can also occur and further weaken the bronchi membrane, which leads to wheezing and coughing.

Ingestion of foreign objects

Great Danes can ingest foreign objects which leads to obstruction of the throat, which causes gagging and coughing. 

Foreign objects that can be ingested include sticks, broken toys, small balls, or bones, which block a dog’s throat.

Other conditions that are less common but cause Great Dane coughing include laryngeal (windpipe) paralysis, canine influenza, distemper, heartworm disease, and lung cancer.

Related: Great Dane vomiting and shaking: Reasons why and what to do

Complications

Great Dane coughing can be an indication of a serious underlying problem that might worsen and become fatal if left untreated.

Heart disease, infections, tracheal collapse, cancer, and obstruction of the throat are all serious conditions that deteriorate a Great Dane’s health. They are also life-threatening.

Early diagnosis and treatment of these ailments prevent the fatal outcomes, therefore it is important to have your dog examined to determine the cause of the coughing.

When To Seek Help For Great Dane Coughing

Occasional Great Dane coughing is common and normal especially after eating or drinking too quickly, or as a response to an irritation in the throat. Recurrent coughs are however a cause of concern and require medical attention.

First, check if the coughing is due to an ingested foreign object that obstructs the throat. If there is an object, immediately seek medical attention.

Contact your veterinarian when your Great Dane’s cough lasts for more than a week and also when other symptoms of illness are present, or if your dog also has a preexisting health condition.

When coughing prolongs and also shows up with other symptoms of illness such as wheezing, drooling, weakness, dry heaving, or difficulty in breathing it means there is an underlying problem.

You can also take a video recording of your Great Dane when coughing to provide it to your veterinarian to show what your dog was experiencing.

During your dog’s checkup, the veterinarian will conduct a physical exam and also ask you questions about your dog’s symptoms to help in the diagnosis.  

The questions asked include:  

  • The sound of the cough, that is, whether the cough was a dry hacking cough or a productive/ wet cough
  • The progression of the cough ( if the cough was worsening)
  • The duration of the cough (how long the cough has been experienced)

Diagnostic tests will also be conducted to reach a diagnosis.

The treatment of Great Dane coughs varies depending on the underlying cause. Treatment may include:

  • Medication for disease or infections
  • Removal of esophageal obstructions
  • Surgery in some cases for the treatment of tracheal collapse

Related: Why is my Great Dane dry heaving?

Summary

Great Dane coughing can be very alarming. Most often it does not need medical attention when it is caused by eating or drinking too quickly but it can also be due to an underlying health condition.

Coughing can be caused by different factors but it is important to have your Great Dane examined to check for the cause. 

There are different types of coughs that can help indicate the possible cause of the coughing. With the help of your veterinarian, this can be identified and treatment provided. 

Early detection of ailments can save a Great Dane’s life by preventing their condition from worsening.

Immediately seek medical attention when your Great Dane has coughs that last for a long time or they present other symptoms of illness.

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Patricia Williams

Patricia Williams

Patricia Williams is a writer, mum, and animal lover with extensive experience with dogs. She loves talking about animal advocacy and care. She lives with 4 German Shepherds and 1 cat.