Dog Coughing After Dental Surgery (4 Possible Reasons)

dog cough after dental surgery

One thing that many dog owners tend to neglect is their dogs’ teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene in our dogs is very important to prevent the onset of dental disease.

However, even with the best teeth cleaning regime at home, most dogs might still need to undergo a dental procedure from time to time. One thing that you might notice after the dental procedure is your dog coughing for a few days.

But why is your dog coughing after its dental surgery? This mild post-surgical cough that your dog is having could be caused by a tube that is inserted into your dog’s throat. This can cause some irritation to your dog’s throat. Other issues like a bacterial infection or a stuck foreign object in your dog’s throat could also be causing your dog’s coughing.

Let us take a closer look at the possible causes that can make your dog cough after its dental procedure.

Is Coughing Normal After Surgery?

If you have gone through surgery under general anesthesia before, you might have woken up with a sore throat from the procedure. This is due to the insertion of the endotracheal tube that goes down your throat during surgery.

When your dog is having its dental surgery done at the vet clinic, the same tube can also be inserted into your dog’s throat to deliver oxygen and help it breathe better during the procedure.

The tube goes past your dog’s larynx and rather deep into your dog’s throat. Your dog’s windpipe is very delicate and regardless of how gentle the vet is when inserting the tube, it can cause some minor irritation to the tissue membrane which can make your dog cough for a day or two after the surgery.

It’s actually fairly common in brachycephalic dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs and should go away on its own after a few days.

But if the coughing persists for more than a few days, it could be due to a more severe complication that might have occurred during the dental cleaning or surgery.

Excessive Injury To Your Dog’s Windpipe

endotracheal tube

The insertion of the endotracheal tube needs to be done very gently otherwise it can cause some serious injury to your dog’s windpipe.

The tube’s cuff can possibly tear or cause a perforation in your dog’s throat from aggressive manipulation. Smaller-sized dogs are more at risk due to the narrower opening of their throats.

Collapsing Trachea Syndrome

The trachea is the part of our respiratory system that carries air from the nose or mouth into our necks and down into the lungs.

It is the same for our dogs too. And there are some dogs that suffer from collapsing trachea syndrome.

As frightening as this condition sounds, it actually means that the dog’s trachea tends to collapse easily due to the weakness of the cartilage that is supporting the trachea.

Doctors are still not able to pinpoint the exact cause of this condition but it is said to be a congenital abnormality that tends to afflict small dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Maltese, Pomeranians, etc.

If you have a dog with this condition, it will experience bouts of coughing whenever there is pressure on the trachea. This can happen when your dog is excited, stressed, eating or even drinking.

You can tell that your dog is coughing due to a collapsed trachea from the way it sounds, like a ‘goose-honk’.

For dogs that already have a weakened trachea, the insertion of the endotracheal tube can further aggravate your dog’s throat leading to a hacking cough.

Something Stuck In your Dog’s Throat

Although not a very common reason but your dog’s cough could be caused by a foreign object that is stuck in its throat.

I have heard stories from my vet about dogs waking up and biting into the endotracheal tube before it can be removed. It could also be due to having an extracted tooth or some medical equipment that accidentally found its way into your dog’s throat during the surgery.

An obstruction in your dog’s trachea can cause coughing due to the constant irritation.

Bacterial Infection

bacterial infection dog coughing

Your dog’s coughing can also be caused by a bacterial infection which it might have gotten from coming into contact with another dog or from the environment itself.

This can cause your dog to have kennel cough or even pneumonia in more serious cases.

There might be some vets who aren’t very thorough when it comes to sanitizing their dental apparatus. Pieces of equipment and apparatus that aren’t properly sanitized have the risk of transmitting diseases and bacteria between patients.

There are other symptoms that you can look out for to know if it is due to a bacterial infection.

  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depressed behavior

How Long Has Your Dog Been Coughing?

Having your dog cough for a day or two after its dental procedure is considered acceptable due to being intubated and under anesthesia.

But if your dog has been coughing for more than a week and its condition doesn’t seem to be improving, then that isn’t a good sign.

How To Help With My Dog’s Coughing?

The main thing that you should not be doing is feeding your dog any type of cough mixture without proper medical supervision.

We are assuming that most dogs are coughing due to an irritation in their throats rather than an underlying medical condition.

Use Honey

raw honey cure dog coughing

Honey is a good way to help soothe your dogs throat. However, do not feed your dog that kind of cheap honey that you use to drench your pancakes or waffles. It should be at least raw honey or Manuka honey that has anti-inflammatory properties.

Give your dog a spoonful twice a day to help with its coughing until your dog recovers.

Cut Down On Unnecessary Activity

Depending on how well your dog is recovering from its surgery, it is ok to take your dog out for a little walk. One important thing that you need to be aware of is that your dog might be acting weird after being anesthetized.

But if your dog is still feeling woozy from the pain medication and anesthesia, it is best to keep all activity to a bare minimum.

Even if your dog is feeling fine, too much strenuous activity can worsen your dog’s cough.

Use A Humidifier

Besides ensuring your dog has enough fresh water to drink around the house, placing a humidifier where your dog sleeps can help keep its airways moist and lubricated.

This can help to soothe any irritation in your dog’s throat and cut down on the coughing.

What Should I Do If The Coughing Doesn’t Stop?

If your dog’s coughing doesn’t start to improve or go away after a few days, give your vet a call first to see if there is a need to bring your dog back for a check-up.

The vet might ask you to observe your dog for a few more days to see if the coughing lets up. Otherwise, it would be best to bring your dog in for an examination.

If at any one point after the surgery you do notice that your dog is having trouble breathing, panting, no longer eating or has any discharge, take it back to the vet immediately. There is a chance that your dog is having some sort of post-op complication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why Is My Dog Gagging After Anesthesia?

For dogs that have undergone general anesthesia, it is common for them to be intubated which helps to support breathing during surgery.

The process of inserting the tube into your dog’s trachea can cause some irritation and abrasion to the windpipe. When this happens, your dog might start to gag and cough after anesthesia.

How Long Does It Take For Dogs To Recover From Tooth Extraction?

Most dogs are able to start eating normally after 24-48 hours. If multiple teeth have been extracted then it might take longer as the soreness and discomfort in your dog’s mouth might be prolonged.

Can Tooth Infection Cause Coughing In Dogs?

It is possible for a tooth infection in dogs to make them cough. The build-up of bad bacteria in your dog’s mouth can lead to tonsilitis which can make them cough. It can also give your dog’s mouth a metallic smell from the bleeding.

To prevent any oral infections, it is always a good idea to get your dog’s teeth cleaned at least once a week with a toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs.

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