Cough in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats cough

Congestive heart failure in dogs
is often manifested by coughing, tachypnea and dyspnea. These signs also occur in association with the pulmonary vascular disease and pneumonitis of heartworm disease in both dogs and cats. Noncardiac conditions including diseases of the upper and lower airways, pulmonary parenchyma (including noncardiogenic pulmonary edema), pulmonary vasculature, and plural space, as well as certain nonrespiratory conditions, also can cause cough, tachypnea and dyspnea.

The cough accompanying left-sided heart failure in dogs is often soft and moist but sometimes sounds like gagging. In contrast, cough is an unusual sign of pulmonary edema in cats. Tachypnea progressing to dyspnea occurs in both species. Pleural and pericardial effusions occasionally are associated with coughing as well. Mainstem bronchus compression caused by severe left atrial enlargement can stimulate a cough (often described as dry or hacking) in dogs with chronic mitral insufficiency, even in the absence of pulmonary edema or congestion. A heartbase tumor or other mass that impinges on an airway can also mechanically stimulate coughing.

When respiratory signs are caused by heart disease, other evidence such as generalized cardiomegaly, left atrial enlargement, pulmonary venous congestion, lung infiltrates that resolve with diuretic therapy, and/or a positive heartworm test are usually present. Thorough physical examination, thoracic radiographs, an echocardiogram if possible, and an ECG facilitate differentiation of cardiac from noncardiac causes of cough and other respiratory signs.

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