Original Question: "Hi my name is Jorden and I own a 10-year-old Shih Tzu and for the last couple of days I’ve noticed she has had an uncontrollable cough that comes in spurts every couple of minutes and she will gag a couple of times before she finally gets the cough out of her system. I’m not sure what to do other than to bring her to the vet but with the expenses of bringing her there I’m trying to seek a more affordable cure. Another side note is that she has a severe cauliflower ear infection that has been noted by our local vet and we’re treating it with antibiotics, cleaning her ears every other day and giving her eardrops. Thank you so much for reading; any advice is more than appreciated!" - Jorden
Tthanks for your question. There are a variety of disorders that can cause the signs you have described. A common one is “kennel cough,” which is an infection of the trachea and bronchi that pass air into the lungs. It is caused by infection with primarily bacteria, but there can also be a viral infection involved as well. That being said, in an older dog such as yours, I am generally more concerned about things like heart disease and tracheal disease, rather than infections.
While I understand that you want to avoid unnecessary costs, I think it is important for her to be examined. Your vet can determine a lot on a physical exam that will help narrow down the underlying cause of the cough. There is really no substitute for a thorough, hands-on examination and listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope to determine the next best course of action. Your vet may recommend additional diagnostics such as x-rays of the chest to help as well. If the coughing is getting worse and not better or you notice other changes in her behaviour, appetite and energy level, then you really do need to have her seen. Regarding the ears – it might be unrelated to the cough, but certainly worth having your vet take a look at the ears while she is in.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Kim Hester
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