As I hear the persistent coughing coming from my beloved chihuahua, I can’t help but wonder: why is my little furry friend experiencing this troubling symptom? Dogs cough for various reasons, but did you know that chihuahuas are more prone to certain respiratory issues? With their small size and delicate airways, it’s important to understand the potential causes behind their coughing fits and ensure their well-being.

While there can be numerous factors contributing to a chihuahua’s cough, one common culprit is kennel cough. This highly contagious respiratory infection can be contracted from other dogs in places like boarding facilities or even at the dog park. Another possible cause could be a collapsing trachea, a condition where the windpipe narrows and restricts airflow, predominantly affecting smaller breeds like chihuahuas. It’s crucial to get your chihuahua evaluated by a veterinarian to identify the exact cause of their cough and provide proper treatment, as early intervention can prevent further complications.

why is my chihuahua coughing?


Why is My Chihuahua Coughing?

Why is My Chihuahua Coughing?

Chihuahuas are adorable and popular small dog breeds known for their spunky personalities. However, it can be concerning when your Chihuahua starts coughing. Coughing in Chihuahuas can have various causes, ranging from minor issues to more serious health conditions. As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to understand why your Chihuahua is coughing and what steps you should take to help them. In this article, we will explore the possible reasons behind your Chihuahua’s cough and provide insights into how to address this issue.

1. Respiratory Infections

One possible reason for your Chihuahua’s cough is a respiratory infection. These infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or even fungal organisms. Common respiratory infections in Chihuahuas include kennel cough, pneumonia, and bronchitis. If your Chihuahua has been in contact with other dogs or shows symptoms like a runny nose or fever, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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Treatment for respiratory infections may involve antibiotics, antiviral medications, cough suppressants, and supportive care. Your veterinarian may also recommend isolating your Chihuahua from other dogs to prevent the spread of the infection.

To reduce the risk of respiratory infections, make sure your Chihuahua is up to date on vaccinations and avoid exposing them to sick dogs or crowded places where the infection can easily spread.

2. Heart Disease

Coughing can also be a symptom of heart disease in Chihuahuas. The most common heart condition in small dog breeds like Chihuahuas is mitral valve disease (MVD). MVD is a progressive condition where the heart’s mitral valve degenerates, leading to leakage and enlargement of the heart chambers.

As the heart enlarges and fluid accumulates in the lungs, your Chihuahua may start coughing. The coughing is usually worse at night or during periods of exertion. Other symptoms of heart disease may include difficulty breathing, lethargy, and a decreased appetite.

If you suspect that heart disease may be the cause of your Chihuahua’s cough, it’s crucial to bring them to the veterinarian. Diagnosis of heart disease may involve a physical examination, x-rays, electrocardiograms (ECG), and echocardiography. Treatment options may include medications to manage symptoms, dietary changes, and regular check-ups to monitor the progression of the disease.

3. Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse is a common condition in Chihuahuas and other small breed dogs. It occurs when the trachea, or windpipe, loses its rigidity and collapses, causing a coughing sound known as a “goose honk.” This condition is often referred to as a “reverse sneeze.”

Tracheal collapse can be triggered by excitement, pulling on a leash, or hot weather. It may worsen over time and require management strategies to alleviate symptoms. Your veterinarian may recommend weight management, using a harness instead of a collar, and avoiding environmental triggers that cause coughing episodes.

In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to provide relief for your Chihuahua. Surgery options include tracheal stenting or placement of tracheal rings to help support the collapsed trachea.

4. Allergies

Allergies can also be a potential cause of coughing in Chihuahuas. Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to various environmental factors such as dust mites, pollen, mold, or certain food ingredients. When a Chihuahua is exposed to an allergen, it can lead to respiratory irritation and coughing.

If your Chihuahua’s coughing coincides with specific times of the year or exposure to certain environments or foods, it’s worth considering allergies as a possible cause. Your veterinarian may recommend allergy testing to identify the specific allergens affecting your Chihuahua. Treatment options may include allergy shots, antihistamines, or dietary changes.

Reducing your Chihuahua’s exposure to known allergens, keeping their living environment clean, and providing a balanced diet can also help manage allergy-related coughing.

5. Foreign Body Ingestion

Chihuahuas, being curious and small in size, may occasionally swallow small objects that can become lodged in their throat or airway. Common objects that can cause a cough include bones, toys, or even parts of household items. Coughing as a result of a foreign body ingestion may be sudden and persistent.

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If you suspect your Chihuahua has ingested a foreign object, it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary care. The veterinarian may perform imaging tests, such as x-rays or ultrasounds, to locate and remove the object. Surgery may be necessary depending on the size and location of the foreign body.

6. Dental Issues

Poor dental health can also contribute to coughing in Chihuahuas. Dental problems, such as gum disease or tooth infections, can cause a chronic cough due to the inflammation and irritation in the mouth. If your Chihuahua’s cough coincides with dental issues, addressing their oral health may help alleviate the symptoms.

Regular dental cleanings, proper oral hygiene, and providing appropriate chew toys can help prevent dental problems and reduce the risk of coughing due to dental issues. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on dental care for your Chihuahua.

7. Collapsing Trachea

Chihuahuas are prone to a condition called collapsing trachea, which is a progressive degeneration of the cartilaginous rings in the trachea. This condition can cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. It is often more common in older Chihuahuas and those who are overweight.

Treatment for collapsing trachea may involve weight management, using a harness instead of a collar, and avoiding triggers that cause coughing. In severe cases, surgery may be required to provide relief and improve the quality of life for your Chihuahua.


It’s essential to monitor your Chihuahua’s cough and seek veterinary attention if it persists or worsens over time. The causes of coughing in Chihuahuas can vary, ranging from respiratory infections to heart disease, tracheal collapse, allergies, foreign body ingestion, dental issues, or collapsing trachea. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment are crucial for your Chihuahua’s well-being. Remember to provide a safe and healthy environment for your furry friend and always consult your veterinarian for any concerns or questions about your Chihuahua’s health.

Source: American Kennel Club (AKC)

Key Takeaways: “Why is my chihuahua coughing?”

1. Common causes of coughing in chihuahuas include respiratory infections, allergies, and heart conditions.
2. Coughing can also be a symptom of tracheal collapse, a condition common in small breeds like chihuahuas.
3. It’s important to monitor the cough and look for any accompanying symptoms like difficulty breathing or lethargy.
4. If your chihuahua’s cough persists or worsens, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
5. Treatment options for coughing in chihuahuas may include medication, lifestyle changes, or surgical intervention, depending on the underlying cause.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coughing can be a concerning symptom for your chihuahua. Here are some commonly asked questions about why your chihuahua might be coughing and what you can do about it.

1. What are some common reasons why my chihuahua is coughing?

Coughing in chihuahuas can have various causes. It could be due to respiratory infections, allergies, kennel cough, heart problems, or even tracheal collapse. Each condition requires different treatments, so it’s important to consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.

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If your chihuahua is only coughing occasionally and is otherwise healthy, it might be due to factors like excitement, drinking too quickly, or inhaling dust or irritants. However, if the cough persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s best to seek veterinary advice.

2. How can I tell if my chihuahua’s cough is serious?

If your chihuahua’s cough persists for more than a week, is accompanied by difficulty breathing, lethargy, loss of appetite, or coughing up blood, it could be a sign of a more serious condition. In such cases, it’s crucial to bring your chihuahua to the veterinarian for a thorough examination and proper diagnosis.

It’s important not to ignore persistent coughing in chihuahuas, as it can be a symptom of serious health issues, such as heart disease or collapsing trachea. Early detection and appropriate treatment can greatly improve your chihuahua’s quality of life.

3. Can allergies make my chihuahua cough?

Yes, allergies can be one of the causes of coughing in chihuahuas. Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies to various substances such as pollen, dust mites, or certain foods. Allergic reactions in chihuahuas can manifest as coughing, itching, sneezing, or even skin rashes.

To determine if allergies are causing your chihuahua’s cough, your veterinarian may perform allergy testing or recommend a food elimination trial. Once the allergen is identified, avoiding exposure to it and providing appropriate treatment, such as antihistamines or immunotherapy, can help alleviate your chihuahua’s symptoms.

4. What is kennel cough, and can it cause my chihuahua to cough?

Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs. It is commonly caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. The symptoms of kennel cough include a harsh, dry cough that sounds like your chihuahua is choking or gagging.

Chihuahuas are just as susceptible to kennel cough as any other dog breed. If your chihuahua is coughing persistently, especially if they have recently been in contact with other dogs or have visited areas where dogs congregate, such as parks or grooming salons, it’s essential to have them examined by a veterinarian. Treatment for kennel cough may involve medication to relieve symptoms and prevent secondary infections.

5. What can I do to help my chihuahua if they are coughing?

If your chihuahua has an occasional cough and is otherwise healthy, you can take some steps at home to help them. Keep the environment free of irritants, such as cigarette smoke or strong scents. Ensure they have a calm and stress-free environment.

However, if the cough persists or worsens, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian. They can perform an examination, run diagnostic tests if necessary, and recommend appropriate treatment options. Remember, early intervention is key to maintaining your chihuahua’s respiratory health and overall well-being.

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Top 8 MOST COMMON Causes Of COUGHING In Dogs | When To Worry About Your Dog’s Cough | Vet Explains

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