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Why does my dog cough when barking?

Dogs can cough when barking for a variety of reasons. It can be concerning, but in many cases, the causes aren’t serious. However, it can be an indication of a serious problem. 

Why does my dog cough when barking?

Does your dog seem to cough every time they bark? This can be surprising at first, because the two things seem to be unrelated. However, there are many things that can cause your pooch to cough when they bark. 

Dry Throat

You’ve undoubtedly experienced a dry throat at some point. Perhaps it occurred for no clear reason. However, maybe it occurred when you were using your voice, at a baseball game, for example. 

When a dog coughs after barking, it can be from a similar cause. They use their voice when barking, which can cause their throat to become dry. This can cause them to cough. 

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a contagious disease. It can occur in dogs, cats, and wild animals. It’s known as kennel cough because it’s highly contagious. If dogs are in close proximity, like they are in a kennel, this can lead to the spread of kennel cough. 

In addition to kennels, dog parks, dog shows, and training classes are common places where dogs can catch kennel cough. They can also catch it from cats and wild animals who have the disease. 

Kennel cough causes a “honking” cough. Other symptoms include sneezing and runny nose, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Your dog may have a low grade fever as well.  

Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing can be amusing or alarming. Instead of pushing air out of the nose, as with a regular sneeze, they pull air in through their nose forcefully. 

This can cause your dog to make a honking, snorting, or coughing sound. Some dogs can even sound like they have something in their throat when this occurs. 

Dogs with long or narrow noses reverse sneeze more often than other dogs. Anything that causes irritation to the soft palate, including smoke and allergens, can cause a reverse sneeze. 


Allergies can also cause your pooch to cough while barking. This is typically caused by environmental allergens, like dust or pollen. Your dog inhales the allergen, causing irritation of their nose and throat. 

This causes inflammation, which narrows the passages. They may sneeze, have a runny nose, and a cough. They may feel like something is in their throat, causing them to cough when they bark. 

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure causes the heart to not pump blood efficiently. It becomes enlarged. Heart failure causes difficulty breathing, which leads your dog to cough when barking. 

The signs of congestive heart failure include coughing when they are resting or sleeping. Excessive panting, loss of appetite, weight loss, and a swollen stomach. The gums may become pale or blue. 


Bronchitis in dogs is similar to bronchitis in humans. It’s a respiratory disease that causes excess mucus production. This mucus causes coughing. The trachea and airways swell or become inflamed.  

It’s also difficult for them to breath, which can also cause coughing. Some dogs develop chronic bronchitis, which means they have a cough lasting more than 2 months.  

Larayngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis occurs when the larynx becomes paralyzed. This makes it difficult for them to breathe, because it’s hard for them to move air in and out of their lungs. 

This causes them to have difficulty breathing after exercise or exertion, particularly. They may cough at different times during the day, in addition to coughing while barking. They may also make a grunting noise. 

The condition can interfere with eating and drinking. If it becomes severe,  your dog may be unable to breathe. 

Canine Influenza

Canine influenza is a strain of the flu virus that affects dogs. It is transmitted similar to kennel cough. An infected dog releases the virus into the air when they breathe, and other dogs breathe in the virus. It can also spread through surfaces. 

Symptoms of dog flu include a wet or dry cough, sneezing, runny nose, fever, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. 

Most dogs recover quickly, but it is possible for pneumonia to develop, which can be fatal if not treated. 

Ear Infection

An ear infection is the most surprising cause of your dog coughing when they bark. Ear infections are a common problem for dogs. They can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections or parasites. 

If your pooch has an ear infection, you may notice a discharge coming from the ear. You may also notice a yeasty or spoiled smell coming from the ear. 

Dogs with ear infections will scratch at their ear or rub it on the ground. If you look inside the ear, you may notice redness or swelling. 

What to do if my dog coughs when barking?

If your dog coughs when barking, there are things you should do. This varies greatly based on the cause of your dog’s coughing, however. 

Monitoring the Situation

Some causes don’t require any treatment at all. If your dog has a dry throat or is reverse sneezing, there’s nothing you really need to do. Offer them water, and keep an eye on them. 

If it happens frequently or your dog doesn’t stop coughing within one minute, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet to be sure there’s not a more serious cause. 


Allergies can require veterinary treatment. They are often treated with antihistamines, similar to human allergies.

It can be helpful to write down when your dog has allergy symptoms, and what they were exposed to. For example, if your pooch begins coughing and sneezing when they go outside, the allergen is likely pollen or another allergen that occurs outdoors. 

If they frequently cough when barking indoors, it could be dust or even your cleaning products triggering the episodes. 

Respiratory Diseases 

If your pooch has symptoms of a respiratory disease, including bronchitis, flu, or kennel cough, you’ll need to take them to the vet. Kennel cough is treated with antibiotics. Flu and bronchitis are usually viral, which means medication isn’t effective. 

However, your pooch can develop a severe case, or a secondary infection. This is why it’s important to get them checked out. If treatment is needed, it’s better to start it sooner rather than later. 

Treating Serious Conditions 

If your dog has any symptoms of congestive heart failure or laryngeal paralysis, you’ll need to get them to the vet. These conditions can be life threatening. 

Make a vet appointment as soon as possible if your dog is having difficulty eating, drinking, and breathing. If they frequently cough after exercise and become lethargic, this also needs evaluating by the vet. 

Ear Infection 

You’ll also need to visit the vet to treat an ear infection. They are often treated with ear drops or topical medication. Severe cases may require oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication as well. 

If you want to attempt home treatment, mix one part apple cider vinegar with one part water. Use a cotton ball soaked in the mixture to clean the inside of the ear. Then use a dropper to squirt the solution into the ear canal. 

Do this two to three times a day. If symptoms don’t improve within a day or two, you’ll need to get them to the vet.