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Many reasons can make dogs cough after drinking water, some of which are harmless while others may indicate serious underlying health issues.
As a responsible pet parent, you should get concerned when your furry pal coughs persistently after drinking water.
You can expect your dog to cough once in a while when clearing their respiratory system. Mild coughing is a reflex action that takes a very short time to get triggered.
Watch out for our practical approach you can use in training your canine friend to drink water slowly and effectively.
6 Reasons Why Dogs Cough After Drinking Water
1. Reverse sneezing
Any dog breed can reverse sneeze but short-muzzled breeds, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, are more susceptible to this problem.
Reverse sneezing is characterized by a sudden and intense inhalation through the nose when the dog gets irritated at the soft palates.
Affected dogs may make snorting or honking sounds, and most pet parents may confuse reverse sneezing with a normal cough.
When an excited or agitated dog drinks water, they can trigger this reflex action which resembles a cross between normal coughing and sneezing.
Although this condition is usually harmless in dogs, you should check with your vet if it persists because it may point to respiratory problems.
2. Kennel cough
Kennel cough is a common contagious infection in dogs, and it can make dogs cough after drinking water.
Kennel cough is scientifically known as canine tracheobronchitis and it resembles the human version of the common cold.
Your dog may catch a kennel cough by intermingling with other infected pups or contacting surfaces with the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.
Afflicted dogs have an inflamed trachea which makes them cough with a hoarse hum that resembles the honking sound of a goose.
The dog may irritate the already sensitive trachea when drinking water, making them cough as a way of easing pressure.
Aside from the loud cough, the other symptoms of kennel cough to watch out for include runny eyes, runny nose, sneezing, swollen tonsils, decreased appetite, or fever.
3. Accidental water in the windpipe
Sometimes your pup may make a sudden cough when drinking water because a lap of water has gone where it shouldn’t.
Similar to humans, the dog’s throat is made up of the windpipe (trachea) and the esophagus (gullet or food pipe).
The windpipe is responsible for taking air into and out of the lungs, while the esophagus provides an avenue for food and water to reach the stomach.
When a dog drinks water or swallows food, the trachea flap (known as epiglottis) closes to direct the edibles to the esophagus.
Your dog may be drinking water with haste or sloppily to the extent of gulping it down with air.
If this happens, the epiglottis may open to allow for air to pass only for some drops of water to sneak into the windpipe.
Just a few drops of water may irritate the tracheal linings in dogs making them trigger an immediate coughing reflex to expel water.
You can suspect if this is the case when the cough is immediate and the dog still tries to continue lapping in the water bowl.
4. Collapsed trachea
Small breed dogs such as chihuahuas and senior pups are more susceptible to experiencing a collapsed trachea.
This condition occurs in dogs when the cartilage rings and muscles supporting the trachea weaken due to a crumpling windpipe.
A partially or wholly collapsed trachea can lose its shape and become narrower and flattened making it difficult for air to pass through.
Due to the loss of shape of the trachea, the epiglottis may not cover the airway fully when the dog eats or drinks.
It’s for this reason that a few drops of water may slip into the airway, causing your dog to cough intermittently when lapping on a water bowl.
Dogs with collapsed trachea may also cough when drinking water due to pressure changes in the narrow airway.
The most common sign of collapsed trachea in dogs is a continued ‘goose honk’ cough, accompanied by a wheezing noise when breathing.
Other symptoms include gums turning blue, fainting, vomiting, gagging, and intolerance to exercise.
5. Hypoplastic trachea
Unlike a collapsing trachea, a hypoplastic trachea is a genetic condition in dogs that mostly affects puppies and brachycephalic breeds such as pugs.
A dog with a hypoplastic trachea means that the windpipe has not grown and developed fully to achieve the desired width and size.
The cartilaginous rings and muscles on the trachea are responsible for forming a distinctive shape that allows air to flow in and out of the airway.
The shape of the underdeveloped trachea can hamper the work of the epiglottis meaning it will not block food or water from sneaking into the airway, making affected dogs cough.
Hypoplastic trachea is a severe medical condition in dogs, but your vet can help manage the situation by prescribing various drugs such as cough suppressants.
The other common symptoms of hypoplastic trachea in dogs include noisy breathing, labored breathing, and a medical condition known as bronchopneumonia.
6. Other throat problems
Dogs can experience a range of throat issues including irritation, trickling, or foreign debris stuck on the pipes.
These throat problems in dogs add a little discomfort when they gulp down water hurriedly causing them to cough in the process.
A dog’s throat could also be sensitive to certain irritants such as dry air, allergies, or environmental factors.
A pup with health issues in their throat may be hesitant to lap up some water, and when they do, they may cough due to irritation caused by the already sensitive throat.
How To Stop Dog Coughing After Drinking Water
1. Train your dog to drink water
You can prevent your dog from coughing due to water intake by giving them small amounts of water at a go.
Filling the bowl with water may encourage the dog to gulp it down with haste, and this may increase the chances of some droplets sneaking into the wrong pipe.
You can also use a slow-drink water bowl to regulate and slow down the drinking speed of your beloved pup.
2. Create a calm water point
Too much excitement or agitation can cause a dog to drink water with speed, increasing the chances of coughing.
You can help your canine friend by creating calm water points in strategic corners of your house. Focus on areas with less traffic, and where the dog does not feel rushed when drinking water.
3. Warm your dog’s water
Cold drinking water can cause some dogs to drink with uncontrolled speed, leading to throat discomfort and coughing.
Warming up your dog’s water above room temperature can help soothe their drinking experience.
4. Visit the vet
If your dog is persistently coughing long even when not drinking water, you need to check with your vet for diagnosis and potential treatments.
Respiratory infections in dogs can be severe and progressive when not handled in good time.
Your vet will diagnose the underlying issue causing your dog to cough and recommend various medication, or lifestyle and dietary changes.
If you own multiple pets, you should separate infected dogs from others since these infections are highly contagious.
Talk with your vet about the possibility of getting a Bordetella vaccine for your dog to decrease their chances of catching kennel cough.
Chat with your vet about the possibility of your dog having a collapsed trachea or hypoplastic trachea.
Over-the-counter medication can be used to manage mild cases of collapsed trachea but surgical intervention may be needed if the case is severe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Should I be concerned if my dog coughs only after drinking water?
Occasional coughing after drinking water could be a result of irritation on the throat especially when the dog drinks too fast.
Persistent and severe coughing after drinking water may be a cause for concern pointing to the possibility of issues in the trachea.
You should look for other signs such as labored breathing, or wheezing while lapping water to narrow down on the exact problem.
2. Why does my puppy cough after drinking water?
Puppies may cough after drinking water as a result of infections, such as kennel cough, which takes advantage of their fragile immune system.
3. Can allergies really cause my dog to cough after drinking water?
Yes! Allergies that cause negative reactions and irritation along your dog’s trachea lining may cause them to cough after drinking water.
As a responsible dog owner, you need to know the possible irritants affecting your pooch and strive to keep them away.
4. My dog coughs after drinking water and sometimes vomits. Should I be worried?
Persistent coughs and occasional vomits after drinking water can be a sign of serious health problems including an underdeveloped trachea.
We suggest reaching out to your vet for prompt diagnosis and treatment. You may need to carry a sample of your dog’s vomit for proper diagnosis.
5. Can obesity contribute to my dog’s coughing after drinking water?
Yes! Obese dogs can place an added burden on the respiratory system making them cough or sneeze after drinking water.
Providing your dog with a proper diet and taking them for daily exercises are essential in maintaining a healthy body weight.
If your dog is constantly coughing after lapping up water, we recommend checking with your local vet to rule out potential health issues.
Occasional coughing when your dog quickly drinks water is harmless and only requires training on your part to solve the problem.
It’s best to offer your dog a little sip of water throughout the day than to fill their bowl once since this can encourage speedy lapping.
Investing in a slow-drink water bowl may help in regulating your dog’s water intake and prevent them from coughing due to excited drinking.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.