By Marilyn Miller
Your best friend went to the bark park or doggie daycare and now he has a little cough. Of course, the first thing you’re going to do is call your vet and see if the dog needs to be seen or requires professional treatment.
But what happens when it’s a simple cough that will go away in its own good time? What if your dog’s coughing is keeping not only him awake, but you, and oh by the way, you have to go to work in the morning.
Here are some natural remedies you can try. Again, clear these with your vet before you try them.
A spoon of (preferably locally-sourced, raw, dark) honey can give both of you several hours of blessed relief. We know in humans honey not only calms a cough but gives some pain relief from the sore throat caused by coughing. Not too much, now. Too much will give your dog loose stool and nobody wants that. Try a teaspoon for a 40-pound dog, see how it goes.
Fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that reduces inflammation and swelling. Some dogs like to chew on the core of a pineapple, and some stores selling fresh cut pineapple will sell you the cores for pennies. The core is fibrous and will keep them occupied for a few minutes. Otherwise, a bite or two of fresh pineapple as a treat or with food. It has to be fresh pineapple, not frozen or canned, because processing destroys the enzyme. Again, too much will give the dog some loose stool, so start slowly.
What do you eat when you have a cough or cold? Chicken soup, of course. Put some chicken broth in your dog’s wet food, or even serve it in a bowl as a first course or snack. It’s soothing to the throat.
Keep the air in the house from being too dry. Especially in winter, the humidity level in our homes can seem lower than that of the Gobi Desert. This dryness will cause your dog’s (and your) mucus membranes to crack, causing discomfort and more coughing and possibly leading to more infection. If you don’t have a humidifier, try skipping the clothes dryer and hang your damp clothes up to dry, or put a tea kettle on the stove to barely simmer (watch the water level, don’t want a fire). Even setting cups or glasses of water around will help a little bit.
Similarly, steam may give your dog a lot of comfort. Run the shower with the bathroom door closed, and then let your dog sit in there for ten minutes or so.
If you smoke, please don’t smoke around your dog when it’s coughing. It’s an irritant.
Ask your vet if there is an over-the-counter cough syrup you can give the dog. Opinions on this seem to vary among vets and it’s not suitable for all dogs. Do not give a cough suppressant without your vet’s okay.
Coconut oil may have some anti-viral properties and is soothing. Most dogs will lick it right out of the spoon. Try a tablespoon for a 40-pound dog and see how it goes.
Take the collar off and replace it with a harness. You don’t want pressure on the throat.
An internet search will show there are a number of herbs that may be useful, but please talk to your vet before trying them. Some of them can make underlying heart, kidney, or liver disease much worse. Please don’t experiment.
Of course, if the dog doesn’t want to eat or drink or seems listless or worse yet, weak, get him to the vet pronto. Kennel cough can turn into pneumonia, and some types of cough aren’t viral at all, but are symptoms of other health problems. But in the normal course of things, this cough will pass and your dog will be back to his usual happy self.
What have you used to relieve a simple cough in your dog? Let us know in the comments section. Thank you!