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Why is my 10 year old chihuahua coughing?

Species: Dog
Breed: Chihuahua
Age: 8-11 years
Hi Dr. Marie!

I have a 10yr old female Chihuahua that has a coughing problem. At this time, we can not afford a trip to the vet, so I am trying to find whatever info I can on what may be the problem.

She coughs alot and at times pretty sever. Her breathing seems harder than normal and she looks to have lost some weight. When she lays on my lap, I can feel her heart beating really really fast.

Any help you may be able to provide will be most appreciated!

Thank you in advance!
~Lucy~


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

There are a number of things that can cause a chihuahua to cough.

When I hear of a 10 year old chihuahua who is coughing I do tend to get concerned about heart disease. Any little dog is prone to heart disease.

When you are able to take her to a vet your vet will have a good listen to her heart to see if there is a murmur or arrhythmia at all. They may also want to take an xray to determine if the heart is enlarged and also if there is fluid in the chest.

When a dog has a heart problem there are two possible things that can cause them to cough. The first, is that the enlarged heart can push up on the trachea and cause irritation which promotes a cough. The second is that the diseased heart causes fluid to build up in the lungs which causes a cough as well.

If this is heart disease there are a number of things that can be done to help. Your vet may prescribe a heart medication such as Vetmedin, Fortekor or Enalapril and may also prescribe a diuretic such as Lasix to relieve the fluid in the chest.

There are other things that can cause a chihuahua to cough, but would be less common in an older dog. These include:


  • Kennel cough. This is a virus that usually produces a loud hacking cough that sounds like the dog has something stuck in her throat. The cough usually only lasts for a few days and usually goes away on its own. However, some dogs do get fairly sick and need antibiotics.

  • Collapsing Trachea. This is a condition that commonly affects small dogs and causes a honking cough. However, it is usually present from a young age.

  • Dental Disease. Chihuahuas are very prone to getting dental problems. If there is severe infection in her mouth then this can cause coughing.

  • Cancer. Cancer can be a cause for a cough, but it's not as common as the other things mentioned.

  • Fungal Disease. There are fungal infections that can cause a cough but again, this would not be likely for your dog.



I hope she feels better soon. Hopefully you will be able to have a vet visit soon!

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.