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My dog began showing symptoms by throwing up; after that, she's made horrible hacking noises every so often like she wants to throw up but can't. I think this is a "cough"? It doesn't sound like my friend's dog who used to cough a lot, which was more of a dry wheeze. When my dog coughs, sometimes white slime comes up, but not much (maybe a teaspoon). The rest of the time nothing comes up; she's only thrown up one other time, and it was after I gave her a bunch of dairy and then played roughly with her, so I am pretty sure that one was my fault. Is this a "wet cough" which I am told is very dangerous? Or is this "retching" or something else instead?

Also, in this situation, how soon is okay to go to the vet? She has her first wellness visit in 2 days, is this an emergency room situation or a "see your vet this week" situation? We assume this is a "don't over-exercise and keep warm" situation in case it's a virus of some kind?

Added as per comments: so over the last few days she's had several different noises. The one that initially worried me is more of a wet hacking, occasionally with some phlegm or something spit up, and I've also seen her hack become full-on vomit. But this video captures the most common noise, a dry cough that she gets reliably after exerting herself (here by playing her favorite game, tug): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCXJcmoTJNg (ignore the growling, she always growls during tug, it's the coughing we're looking at).

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    Hi, could you include an audio recording of this cough? Thanks.
    – lila
    Mar 15 at 2:37
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If by "wellness visit" you mean a visit at the groomer, I would reschedule until after she was seen by a vet.

This hacking could have different causes. Maybe she inhaled some food during your play. But maybe it's kennel cough (Web MD) or a different contagious infection. You should separate your dog from others until you know for sure.

That means:

  • No visit to the groomer, the dog park, a puppy school or anywhere else where lots of dogs meet.
  • No walks with her other dog friends. She shouldn't touch any other dog until you know if her cough is contagious.
  • Document the evidence! A picture of the sputum she coughes up would help your vet diagnose.
  • Always have a tissue paper in your pocket when taking her on a walk. If she coughes and spits out some fluid, you should wipe it away to avoid infecting other dogs (after taking a picture for your vet).
  • In case your vet wants to do labwork on the sputum, you could also collect some in a clean doggy poo bag, but it must be fresh to be analyzed.
  • No strenuous activity for her. Light play and walks are ok, but she shouldn't play fetch or do any activity to the point she has to pant.

As long as she doesn't pant or choke while resting or becomes extremely lethargic, this doesn't warrant a visit to the emergency vet. But you should get her checked out within the next days.

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    Not a groomer visit, I mean a check-up at the vet. I wanted to get her looked over by a vet and establish myself as a client before she started coughing, so I'd already scheduled a visit. Thank you! Mar 14 at 16:58
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    That's the perfect opportunity to mention the cough. Please make sure she doesn't infect other dogs while waiting. A single touch nose to nose is enough to spread the infection. Inhaling the air from an infected dog in a poorly ventilated room is dangerous as well.
    – Elmy
    Mar 14 at 17:00
  • I had a friend who is a vet tech come over and take a look, and she agreed with this post that it's nothing urgent and try to keep her quiet. She's a young dog so she's very energetic so it' sbeen a challenge. Thanks! Mar 16 at 0:51
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    We have a list of games and other entertainments for dogs where you might get some ideas. Of course playing frisbee is out of the question, but maybe you'll find another game that will keep her entertained until she's healthy again.
    – Elmy
    Mar 16 at 5:13
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    Just to let you know the vet wasn't worried and the cough went away on its own. Thanks again! Mar 28 at 18:11

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