SpotOnTM Case Study #X that Includes Your Dog’s Symptom(s)Case Study #X

Ask Our Vets < Back to Search Results< Back

Dry Hacking Dog Cough, Lethargy & Loss of Appetite

by Karla
(Pahrump, NV)


I have a six year old male Jack Russell Terrier; two weeks ago he began short coughing episodes... initially I thought that I small fish bone may have become lodged in his throat.


I gave him some peanut butter to "catch it" and that stopped that episode of coughing. During the night he coughed again... the episode lasts 3-10 seconds and has him opening his mouth wide, and engaging in a "dry cough"... like he is trying to expel something from the back of his throat (think Heimlich maneuver without the chest thrust).

Over the next 4-5 days I began using various essential oils on him - most to kill bacteria. I also started giving him colloidal silver 2-3 times/day... about 1/8 tsp each time.

He's an "inside dog" so I know pretty much what he is doing; in reviewing recent activities, I noted that he drank out of a duck pond at the local park.... so I collected a fecal sample and took him to the vet. The vet said that kennel cough is "going around" and assumed that is what he had. He prescribed a 10 day course of Clavamox (125mg) - every 12 hours (total of 20 pills0.

I continued with the essential oils and colloidal silver; after about five days, he seemed to be improved - largely because he was again interested in eating (he is NOT food motivated); he probably lost about one pound from not eating much. His regular diet is BARF raw food with some baked chicken; he also gets raw grass fed hamburger on occasion, and raw fish (snapper, salmon, etc - some of whatever I cook for myself). He also likes raw apples and a bit of cheese.

An interesting thing is that while he laid around more than normal, when I took him hiking (2-3 hours) he was his regular, active self... we go in the desert wilderness and his joy is tracking animals.. which he still did with gusto. I DID notice that when he strained at the harness (he is never allowed off leash as he would likely run 40 miles chasing some prey and get lost), he start "rattling" in his throat and sometimes go into a brief coughing episode... which made me believe that he may have an irritation of the trachea...so I try to keep him from pulling on his harness.

While he was feeling his lowest, he was still interested in playing (he is a PLAY guy) - tug of war with his toys, jumping at a balloon suspended overhead, etc... really active playing... and he generally did not have a coughing spell when engaged in these things.

I also noticed that at times he would tremble briefly, which is unusual for him. It COULD be because I just gave him a haircut and then the weather turned cold again... but it could be part of something else.

When he quit eating I carefully examined him all over to see if I could find anything -I checked his mouth for dental issues (none found), palpated his belly to see if I could elicit pain (none) and carefully looked for wounds/injuries that could be infected (none). His stool was fairly normal, but I noticed that he had eaten some grass - something that he normally does not do.

Today is day 7 of the Clavamox; he seemed to "turn the corner" two days ago in that he began eating nearly his normal amount of food/day... the coughing has diminished about 73%. His stool has been soft, but I read that is a negative side effect of Clavamox. The vet tested his fecal sample for Girardia and parasites - it was negative.

I only get him vaccinated for rabies... not for anything else. He is not around other dogs (he is NOT social), but does sniff feces at the park when he finds them before I do. (not a dog park... just a regular park where there aren't too many dogs that go there).

The past few days I noticed that he has a very slight discharge from his eyes... just a "bit of crud" in the corner of his eyes... he never has that... but he could have been chasing rabbits through the brush in the back and gotten something in them from that.

When he was at his most lethargic, his nose was dry and warm; now it is cold and wet and has never had any discharge.

One other thing that I have noticed is for the past three weeks he wakes up during the night (he sleeps in bed with me) and starts licking his right front leg... so vigorously that he wakes me up.... and he will keep licking for five minutes straight.... I examined his leg carefully and can find nothing... and he has not licked the hair off (he is a rough coat), but I do find hair in his stool.

We live in southwest southern Nevada; there are snakes, tarantulas, scorpions and other critters... but he stays mostly in the house (only a small portion of the yard is fenced) and when he is out, it is usually with me... and I have not found any wounds on his body to indicate that he was bitten by something.

Yesterday was the farthest we hiked in the past 2.5 weeks - 5 miles... he was fine the entire time... we ran a bit and he was not short of breath. Later in the evening he had one short (2 little hacks) coughing fit... but this is much reduced from what it was 10 days ago.

That's all that I can think of.. he is neutered. He doesn't have a "problem area" to photograph... I included a photo to show his personality.. high energy...play...play...play.... he would rather play than eat... and when he eats, it is slowly and with good manners... he chews his food (not a gulper) and will take it from your fingers very gingerly...

Comments for Dry Hacking Dog Cough, Lethargy & Loss of Appetite

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 06, 2015
Holisitic Vet Response to "Dry Hacking Dog Cough, Lethargy & Loss of Appetite"
by: Carol Jean Tillman, DVM

Hi Karla,
It sounds like you are doing everything right, and your dog is improved 73%! Except you wrote,
"His regular diet is BARF raw food with some baked chicken; he also gets raw grass fed hamburger on occasion, and raw fish (snapper, salmon, etc - some of whatever I cook for myself). He also likes raw apples and a bit of cheese."

I would NOT feed him raw fish, (or raw pork). Due to the risk of Trichinosis or parasites. However, I do not think that he has a bone in his throat, I think he may have had kennel cough. And you had him tested for parasites, and he is Negative for parasites!

The cough you describe, " During the night he coughed again... the episode lasts 3-10 seconds and has him opening his mouth wide, and engaging in a "dry cough"... like he is trying to expel something from the back of his throat..."

This is a retching type of dry cough, indicating an irritation in the lining of his trachea. The more that he coughs, the more irritated that he will make the lining of his trachea.

Try the homeopathic remedy Spongia tosta 6C or 12C 3-4 times daily. This remedy is indicated for a dry, retching cough. One pellet dissolved in 2oz Spring Water. Hopefully, this will clear the cough, and get him back to normal. The veterinarian only prescribed an antibiotic without a cough suppressant. So, this treated any bacteria that was causing the cough. But did not stop the cough, or soothe his throat. Give him 1-2 tsp of honey 3 times daily to soothe his throat.

You wrote,
"His stool has been soft, but I read that is a negative side effect of Clavamox."
Give him Acidophilus, 1/3-1/2 the human dose, added to his food two times daily for the next week. This will replenish the loss in normal gut flora.

If the cough is not 100% cleared up in 5 days, (or his cough is worse!) you may need to have a prescription for a cough suppressant. Hydrocodone (Tussigon) is a good one to help stop the cough.

I am not sure if there are any holistic veterinarians in Pahrump, but I am based in Las Vegas, and there are several other holistic vets in Las Vegas, if you have problems locating the Spongis tosta remedy.

Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Mar 06, 2015
I suspected Kennel Cough...
by: Karla

Well... that's pretty good news (that it's not something worse). The "irritated throat" is likely why he didn't want to eat... I'm going to give him some "cool and slippery" food... like raw beef liver and yogurt...and put some Copaiba essential oil on his throat.

I've started giving him Native Remedies KC Defense - does that have the Spongia in it?

He continues to improve; today was the last day for the Clavamox; yesterday we hiked 8 miles.. but he still is coughing... not really coughing any more... more like "noisy panting" if he gets excited about seeing a rabbit and starts straining at his harness. He hardly "coughs" at all when just lying around the house.

One more question - can the bacteria that caused this linger on surfaces.. especially the bedding? I'll strip the bed and wash with some essential oils in the water... I diffuse in the bedroom all night long with Clove, Cinnamon, Peppermint & Basil.

Thanks for your help!

Mar 06, 2015
My Online Vet Response for: Dry Hacking Dog Cough, Lethargy & Loss of Appetite
by: Dr Carol Jean Tillman

March 6, 2015

Hi Karla,
The Native Remedies KC Defense does not contain the Spongia tosta. Here is a list of the ingredients, http://www.nativeremedies.com/petalive/products/kcdefense-relief-of-hacking-cough-cats-dogs.html

It is a combination remedy with a collection of many different remedies, of very low potency, with the hope that one of them *might* be close in similarity (or homeopathic) to the symptoms of your dog. According to Dr Samuel Hahnemann, the man who invented homeopathy in the 1970's, he says that, "with just ONE remedy of a higher potency, that is close in similarity you will get a better response, and more likely a *cure* to the problem.

You might also try 1/2-1 tsp of honey 3-4 times daily to help as needed when he coughs to soothe his throat.

You wrote,
"can the bacteria that caused this linger on surfaces.. especially the bedding?"
No. Respiratory viruses for dogs, including the Canine Distemper virus, are VERY short lived in the environment. They can only survive in the canine respiratory tract, where it is warm, moist, and the temperature is a normal 'dog' temperature of 101 degrees.

You wrote,
"...for the past three weeks he wakes up during the night... and starts licking his right front leg... so vigorously that he wakes me up.... and he will keep licking for five minutes straight... and he has not licked the hair off... but I do find hair in his stool."

I have no explanation for this. But you might make up a dilution of Rescue Remedy, 20 drops in 4 oz Spring Water in a pump spray bottle, to spray on his leg. Rescue Remedy is helpful to calm down a human or animal and decrease anxiety. Spraying it on his leg might calm down his skin, and perhaps calm him down. You can take it yourself, to calm you down, and let you go back to sleep!

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.




Mar 17, 2015
irritated throat... still
by: Anonymous

I had to travel to Georgia for a week; my pup didn't get his daily essential oils, etc.

His throat is a bit improved but he still "hacks" when excited by a rabbit or straining on his harness.

He also still doesn't eat as much - I think that is due to an irritated throat... he is full of energy and runs like mad, chasing rabbits in a fenced yard... no heavy breathing or anything as a result.

I also noticed that he has a slight bit of drainage coming from both eyes (I wipe away the gook)... this COULD be due to the ton of pollen coming from the 70 pine trees presently blooming on our property (it's giving me fits).. his eyes NEVER run, normally.

I can treat the allergies, bacteria, whatever with essential oils... I am mainly interested in relieving the throat irritation - can you provide me with your address, hours, cost so that I can get some for him? Thanks!

Jul 06, 2015
Blastomycosis NEW
by: Anonymous

Did you have your dog tested for Blastomycosis? Some of the symptoms sound like it. My dog is suffering from it now.

Jul 06, 2015
Hacking resolved with essential oils NEW
by: Anonymous

After eliminating many of the probable causes for my pup's hacking, I settled on the assumption that he had an irritated trachea from straining at his harness (which he does daily) - I have a harness with a wide, padded chest plate that sits over the breastbone, vs. the throat.

Even so, when he sees a rabbit he charges after it until he hits the "end of the leash"...

I began to apply Frankincense oil topically to the area... just one drop 2X/day... in three days the hack was noticeably diminished. I continued this protocol daily.... It likely was two weeks when I "noticed that he was no longer hacking"..

And that was over one month ago... Now I apply the oil a couple times/week as a preventive measure. Frankincense is the #1 anti-tumoral/anti-cancer oil, so he is benefitting in that regard as well.

Jul 07, 2015
My Online Vet Response for: Dry Hacking Dog Cough, Lethargy & Loss of Appetite NEW
by: Dr Carol Jean Tillman

July 6, 2015

Hi Karla
If the cough is still present, and it has lasted this long, I would be remiss in not suggesting, as the previous person mentioned, checking for fungal, or parasitic diseases, such as heartworm.

These are diagonosed via a blood test.

Also, just to let you know, at this time, I am no longer answering new questions online. It would be best to take your dog to a veterinarian or, better yet, find a local holistic veterinarian to help.

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click on the link below
Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Take care
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman


Jul 07, 2015
The cough is gone... NEW
by: Anonymous

The cough HAS BEEN GONE for several months.........

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask a Vet Online via My Online Vet (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED FOR NEW QUESTIONS).

This is the end of SpotOnTM Case Study #X for Your Symptom(s).End of Case Study #X

Ask Our Vets < Back to Search Results< Back

Want to ask our veterinarians a question but haven't subscribed to My Online Vet? Click here to learn how or click here to go back to the Ask a Vet Online Library of questions.

Want monthly "News You Can Use" and important Organic Pet Digest new content updates?  Click here to sign up for our FREE Dog Care Monthly newsletter.


Do you believe in holistic pet care?  If so, please tell your friends about us with a Facebook like, Google +1 or via Twitter, Pinterest, email or good old fashioned word of mouth. Thank you for supporting our efforts!

For additional research, search for your topic...



Disclaimers: The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a pet owner/site visitor and his/her local veterinarian(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified professional.

In the spirit of full disclosure, we wanted to let you know that we proudly support this website through advertising and affiliate marketing. In other words, when you click on a link that takes you outside of this website, we often earn a small commission. These small commissions allow us to keep the site up and running and to continue offering it completely free of charge to you. Rest assured that all content, recommendations and advice are created before, and are independent of, any sponsorship or affiliate relationship. Click here for more info.