Our 4-year old Aussie-doodle frequently will have a coughing attack in which she almost sounds like she's hacking up a hairball; she'll cough hard 3-5 times, then have a final hack and be done... until the next coughing fit, which usually happens several times an hour.


  • As a puppy, we noticed when we'd love pat her with any force at all it would cause her to start hacking. Not sure if that was indicative of an underlying condition.

  • Vet did a heartworm test (negative), and gave Benadryl for allergies (no effect).

  • Vet gave prednisone (steroid) & antibiotics for kennel cough, which resolved the cough for a few weeks, but then she became sick and stopped eating. (We suspect it was the prednisone that stopped the cough, since later, another vet prescribed antibiotics again and it did not take the cough away).

  • Returned to vet & he prescribed probiotics, which restored her appetite, but then shortly after she started coughing again.

  • Vet prescribed prednisone again which took the cough away completely; however, after the prescription ran out, the cough returned after 2 months.

  • We have cleaned our air ducts and filters in our heater.

  • After the last negative heart worm test, the vet said he knew of no other condition that could cause her cough than distemper, but she does not have clear discharge or leaky eyes, nor is she lethargic. (In fact, she does not cough while on runs).

  • She is energetic, loves to run, has an appetite, and poops normally.

  • We've tried: honey, licorice root, slippery elm, lemon, turmeric, probiotics, coconut oil and essential oils to reduce inflammation. I have also ceased using a harness and have a leash that connects to her snout so she does not have any pressure on her throat. Still no reprieve.

Does anybody know what could be going on with our dog? We'd love to get some sleep!

  • 4
    What diagnostics have been done? Any chest x-rays?
    – Harry V.
    Aug 30, 2020 at 5:29
  • 1
    What does her environment look like? Does she inhale a lot of dust or fine plant seeds when outside? And did any vet do more diagnostic procedures like x-rays or ultrasound?
    – Elmy
    Aug 30, 2020 at 15:04
  • 1
    My dog had the same problems and received basically the same treatment. Seven weeks later she died of cancer - the cough was due to liquid in the lungs. So I'd second the idea of a chest x-ray. Sep 4, 2020 at 8:53
  • We had a similar issue with our oldest cat (so not sure, if this will apply to your dog). To the coughing came diarrhea and itching skin. The reason is a food allergy. It gets alleviated by steroids, but those suppress the immune system so the chance of infections rises. IMHO you should get a 2nd opinion. In the meantime, you could try to rule out food allergies by trying different dog food brands (there're special hypoallergenic diets for dogs AFAIK).
    – Tim
    Sep 23, 2020 at 10:29

4 Answers 4


If it's after playing with toys, maybe it's hair or the fabric stuck in its teeth, I have a small dog that coughs only after he messes around our clothes (he shreds them) or carpets, etc. (ok he is not well behaved exactly...). Otherwise he is healthy. His hacking is when he tries to shred items.

But also maybe check for heart problems. They sometimes cause puppy (from early age) to cough. If the dog coughs after exertion or getting too excited, it could be mental or heart problem, but the x-ray will show if it's something stuck in the throat, too.

I hope it quickly resolves and you find the reason and whatever the reason is I'm sure you will treat your friend accordingly x


I haven't heard of it happening several times an hour, or for so long, but my dog sometimes coughs/hacks like he's gonna throw up a hairball, and like twice a year it means he's going to throw up. But other than that, there's nothing wrong with it. I also haven't heard of them hacking if you pet them "too hard" or don't handle them delicately. For my dog, it is nothing. Does your dog eat grass/plants? That might have something to do with it. Is it more of a cough, like caused by dust/seeds, or more of a hack, like it has to do with something she's eating? She could also be choking on hairs that we shed from our head. Do you have long hair?


I would like to double what @Harry V. said, i.e. x-ray! Please!

The radiation dose is not significant; I am surprised if the vet(s) didn't do it already.

She is so young. I hope she will be OK!


enter image description hereHi. My chihuahua is 14 1/2 & has heart disease. Due to enlargement of his heart, it has applied pressure onto his trachea, overtime, causing hacking more frequently. He’s always had the occurrence 1x or 2x every 6, 8 months. But lately it’s more frequent. Another contributing factor is bronchial swelling, which may be bronchitis. Due to the side effects of the antibiotic for that infection, my vet thought it would be best to continue to use the hydro syrup, which relaxes his trachea instantly. I hope my experience has helped. Oh! Another thing. I use homeopathic sprays formulated for dogs for his eyes, respiratory/heart health, kidney/bladder, & for for his skin. I can’t express enough how effective all of these have been. Especially noticeable for the eyes and skin.

  • 1
    Thanks for sharing your specific experience. However, as your recommendation is based on an existing diagnosis, it fits your specific case. Blindly recommending any product can be dangerous if the underlying issues are different. (Although true homeopathic concoctions are probably harmless per se, but that’s another topic.)
    – Stephie
    Oct 7, 2023 at 11:46

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