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Sudden Terrible Dog Coughing On And Off for 5 Months

by Tracy
(Hampshire, UK)

Mollie became unwell within 2 weeks of moving to our new house. She began doing a horrible cough like she was trying to bring something up, it was really loud at times and goes on for about 4 or so seconds. Sometimes she then repeats this again straight away other times it goes away then comes back again later on. It is always WORSE AT NIGHT AND FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.


Initially the cough didn't produce anything but soon she began to bring up a clear foamy liquid, which quickly became liquid with phlegm, she also vomited a bit and had a runny nose.

Some background...

Mollie is our wonderful chocolate brown Box Spaniel (Mum was a Springer Spaniel, Dad was a Cocker Spaniel), she is 13 and will be 14 in September.

She has always been a very well happy dog her whole life with no issues, and used to wake up every morning excited to start the day, she loves to walk and run around the park, eats well and we have always said she just loves life!

Even with her increasing age she had remained fit, well and happy until we moved house 5 months ago. We had lived at our previous home (an older Victorian house for 9 years) but about 5 months ago we moved to a smaller modern house with both of our beloved dogs.

Sadly Bella our bichon frise (who had also been well her whole life died suddenly 8 weeks after we moved in which we were devastated over - sudden brain collapse/stroke meant we were forced to have her put to sleep - the vet never knew exactly what killed her).

Back to the cough...

We took Mollie to the local vets straight away and they said she had kennel cough, we paid for antibiotics, etc.

After about 3 weeks she was not improving, we took her back to the vets and because she was so low by now and had become dehydrated we paid to have her put on a drip and also she was given a steroid injection, she improved a bit, the vet then gave us yet more different antibiotics and some anti-inflamatory.

Mollie carried on coughing and producing the clear/phlegm so we took her back to the vets who decided to do an exploratory procedure and x-ray of her throat. They said they could see a small mass on her throat but they think it might just be her throat structure or the way she was laying.

By now with all the medication etc we had spent around £900($1500) and even though we have pet insurance they will only pay about half because of her age.

We were so distressed with the whole thing we didn't know what to do next as despite all the money and vets visits nothing seemed to be resolved.

However after another week or so thank goodness she gradually seemed to get better and the coughing reduced the point it was very rare to hear it at all, we were so relieved! It never went TOTALLY though and after another 5 weeks or so came back again for about a week, then eased off again.

Now however, some 2 months later, in the last few weeks she has suddenly began coughing a lot more again, ALWAYS WORSE NIGHT TIME AND MORNING, also runny nose.

We took her back to vets yet again, (the first severe coughing episode which happened in the early hours made her shake and she was groaning which was very upsetting). We saw a more experienced vet this time and he gave her antibiotics again, but it still didn't get better, so we took her back again, he gave her more different antibiotics, we explained we were desperate to get to the bottom of this as it has been going on for 5 months or so now, he decided to do another procedure to extract some fluid from her throat and another x-ray.

Once again this did not produce any diagnosis. He said the culture they grew showed a pseudomona but he thinks that was from her mouth not her lungs?

He did 2 tests for lungworm and they came back clear and he said he could see a couple of small masses on her lung but due to size and pattern he didn't think they were cancer.

This was last week and she has continued to cough though is still happy in herself, eating well and enjoying her exercise as normal. She was given yet more antibiotics and today I spoke to the vet and said that we are at our wits end, he said we would try a steroid injection, and maybe next an inhaler (confused by this as she has no breathing difficulties and exercises well?).

Despite us spending another £700($1170) and a total of £1600($2670)so far, he still doesn't seem to know what is wrong and is now talking about a specialist. We have spent so much already and the pet insurance will not pay out for this so sadly it is just not something we can afford to do.

We feel desperate to help Mollie but don't know what to do next. Apart from her cough she is still a happy, active dog who loves life. Apart from when she was first ill she always eats and exercises well with no breathing problems despite the cough, SHE IS ALWAYS WORSE AT NIGHT AND FIRST THING IN THE MORNING AND STRANGELY THE COUGHING SEEMS TO PRETTY MUCH STOP WHEN WE ARE IN THE CAR, AT THE PARK OR VISITING, IT IS NEARLY ALWAYS IN THE HOUSE IT HAPPENS.

When we moved to the new house the previous owners had a cat, but we have never had one (though my mum has 2 and Mollie is fine when she visits her, though she does have hard floors not carpet like we have in our house?)

We also had a real Christmas tree in the house when we first moved it (my Mum is convinced she inhaled some pine needles which are in her lungs causing an infection/cough??), we have been racking our brains thinking could it be an allergy.

Please, please can you help us???

We love Mollie so much, she is part of the family and we know she is an older dog now but she still loves life so much and is well in every other way, we just want however many years she has left to be happy and feel sure we and the vet must be missing something???

Comments for Sudden Terrible Dog Coughing On And Off for 5 Months

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May 29, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Sudden Terrible Dog Coughing On and Off for 5 Months
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

May 28, 2014

Hi Tracy,

From the description of Mollie's cough, you wrote,
"SHE IS ALWAYS WORSE AT NIGHT AND FIRST THING IN THE MORNING AND STRANGELY THE COUGHING SEEMS TO PRETTY MUCH STOP WHEN WE ARE IN THE CAR, AT THE PARK OR VISITING, IT IS NEARLY ALWAYS IN THE HOUSE IT HAPPENS."

I repertorized Mollie's symptoms for the correct homeopathic remedy:
1. Aggravated at night
2. Coughing at night and on waking
3. Cough at night
4. Better outdoors
5. Grief-- your other dog died within a few weeks of moving into this house.

The top remedy is Pulsatilla. Other remedies that she may benefit from are Sulphur, Nux vomica, and Phosphorus.

Since she has had this chronic cough for so long, my suggestion would be to give her a short course of a cough suppressant, such as hydrocodone. This is NOT holistic, but it should STOP her cough, and allow her throat, tonsils, trachea to heal and reduce the chronic inflammation. After one week of no coughing, (hopefully the hydrocodone, also called by the brand name, "Tussigon" in the US), start her on Pulsatilla 12C or 6C potency, one pellet by mouth two times daily. Then, after 4-5 days, reduce the dose of hydrocodone slightly, and continue the same frequency of Pulsatilla. After 7-10 days, reduce the hydrocodone a little more, and continue (or increase) the Pulsatilla. She can also have a tsp of honey as needed when she is coughing, as this can sometime soothe her throat. And Rescue Remedy is a great Bach Flower essence to calm her, and can be given as often as needed during the night.

Other suggestions,
1. NO DRY DOG food. See our page on 10 Best Dog Food Options, http://www.organic-pet-digest.com/10-best-dog-food-options.html, and consider the addition of some raw meat to her diet.

2. NO Vaccinations.

3. Immune system supplements to boost her immune system, 1. Missing Link Canine Formula
2. Immuplex from Standard Process
3. OrthoMolecular Specialties, Mega C Powder

4. Search for a holistic 'local' veterinarian to guide you through the other remedy choices, and prescription for higher potencies of remedies, for the ones that I listed above, depending on her response to treatment.

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.

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.





May 30, 2014
Thank you so much!
by: Tracy

Thanks so much for your really helpful advice Doctor Tillman, which is much appreciated. We are going to act upon it and really hope that this will help Mollie...will keep you posted.

Jun 25, 2014
Mollie Update
by: Tracy Thurman

Hi Doctor Tillman and everyone on here,
To let you know that we have finally got a diagnosis for Mollie, in the end we had to get a second opinion from another vet as our usual one just could not get to the bottom of it. Mollie has been diagnosed with Megaesophagos (paralyzed/partially paralyzed esophagos)which is not great, but at least we now know. We don't understand why she got this, she is having blood tests done, but we may never know. It's a bit daunting but she has been given new medication (steroid, ant-acid and anti-biotic) and we have to make adaptions to her food and feeding/drinking position as she must be vertical for this (trying to make her a special feeding chair). In herself she is still happy, enjoying her walks and her food and still loving life so we hope with a few changes we can try and improve her condition and have as long as we possibly can with her!

Jun 25, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Sudden Terrible Dog Coughing On and Off for 5 months
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

June 25, 2014

Hi Tracy,
Thank you so much for the up date on Mollie! Mega-esophagus is a manageable disease. But as you mentioned, it does require a lot of work.

Your postings concentrated on just the coughing, but you did write,
" began to bring up a clear foamy liquid, which quickly became liquid with phlegm, she also vomited a bit and had a runny nose". So, I did not even consider mega-esophagus, which is characterized by regurgitation of liquids/foods within 2-3 minutes up to 20 minutes after eating or drinking. Of course, if she inhales the food or liquid that will certainly cause all of the coughing.

I am very happy that Mollie has been diagnosed, and will be on the road to recovery with her cough.

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.

Click here to add your own comments

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