What Are the Causes of Night Cough in Dogs?

Exposure to other dogs is a common cause of upper respiratory disorders
Exposure to other dogs is a common cause of upper respiratory disorders (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Beverly)

Coughing in dogs is a common problem which often requires a trip to a veterinarian. Providing as many details as possible, such as when the cough seems to occur the most, and the type of cough (moist or dry), may help veterinarians in their diagnosis. For instance, nighttime coughing in dogs may be indicative of several conditions.


Coughing in dogs occurs when there is some form of irritation of the throat, airways or lungs. It is characterized by a noisy and strong expiration of air from the mouth.


A cough that starts in the night or gets worse at night can be exacerbated by the position in which the dog sleeps. Laying down considerably compromises lung space, making fluids accumulate while the dog sleeps, at times causing the dog to wake and cough.

Laying down exacerbates some types of coughs
Laying down exacerbates some types of coughs (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of kenna takahashi)

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection affecting dogs who have been exposed to other dogs, such as during boarding or when taken to dog parks or dog shows. Affected dogs develop a hacking cough which produces a whitish phlegm and often worsens during the night.

Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure allows fluids to accumulate in the dog's lungs, causing dogs to produce a soft cough common during the night. As the condition progresses, dogs may cough up watery, pink foam and the cough may then become more frequent, even causing breathing difficulties.


Because a nighttime cough may be one of the early signs of heart disease, it is imperative that dog owners seek prompt veterinarian attention for their dogs. Coughing may be due to a variety of conditions and disorders, so several diagnostic tests may be necessary in order to determine the exact cause.

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