Why Does My Dog Hack?

Do you have a dog that hacks up mucus from time to time? If so, you may be wondering why this is happening and what, if anything, you can do about it. Read on to learn more about this common canine behavior and what, if anything, you can do to stop it.

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Reasons for Hacking

Dogs hack for many reasons. Some dogs hack because they are trying to tell their owners something, while other dogs do it because they are in pain. However, the most common reason why dogs hack is to clear their throats. When a dog hacks, it is important to pay attention to other signs and symptoms to determine the cause.


One of the most common reasons dogs hack is allergies. Allergies can be caused by a number of things in your dog’s environment, including dust, pollen, mold, mildew, or even ingredients in their food or treats. Dogs can also develop allergies to their own saliva or dander (dead skin cells). If your dog is allergic to something in their environment, you may notice them hacking more often when they are outdoors or in a particular room of your house.

To determine if your dog’s hacking is due to allergies, pay attention to when and where they are hacking. If they only hack at certain times of the year or in specific places, allergies are likely the cause. You should also look for other signs of allergies, such as itching, pawing at the face, red eyes, and runny nose. If you suspect your dog has allergies, talk to your veterinarian about treatment options.

Kennel Cough

One of the most contagious respiratory diseases in dogs is known as kennel cough. It’s called kennel cough because it is easily spread from dog to dog in settings where they are in close proximity to each other, such as boarding kennels, doggy daycares, shelters, and even at the dog park.

Symptoms of kennel cough include a harsh, persistent cough that may sound like your dog is hacking up a hairball. He may also have a runny nose, watery eyes, and be less interested in eating. If your dog has any of these symptoms, he should see a veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment.

Respiratory Infection

One of the most common reasons why your dog may be hacking is due to a respiratory infection. This is especially common in puppies and older dogs, as their immune systems are not as strong. Kennel cough is a common respiratory infection that is seen in dogs that spend time in close quarters with other dogs, such as at a kennel or dog park. This type of infection is similar to a cold in humans and will usually resolve itself within a few weeks. However, your dog may hack and cough intermittently during this time. If you are concerned about your dog’s hacking, talk to your veterinarian.

Signs and Symptoms

Dogs that hack, or cough, do so for many reasons. Some are benign and will clear up on their own, while others may require treatment by a veterinarian. Many owners first notice their dog hacking when they are excited or during or after exercise. A hacking cough is often described as a dry, non-productive cough that sounds similar to a goose honk.


A cough is a sudden, often repetitive, spasmodic contraction of the thoracic diaphragm and muscles of the chest and larynx. A cough is normally initiated to clear the throat of mucus or foreign irritants such as dust, air pollution, smoke or small particles. Coughing to clear the throat is often referred to as a “dry cough”. A “wet cough” produces phlegm or other secretions and is often associated with viral infections such as the common cold or influenza.


One of the most common reasons why dogs hack is because they have something caught in their throat or nose. If your dog is sneezing and hacking, take a close look at his nose and see if there is anything visible. If not, it could be that he has an irritant in his nose such as pollen or dust. In this case, simply wiping his nose with a damp cloth should do the trick.


Wheezing is a harsh, high-pitched whistling noise that is caused by trouble breathing. In dogs, it is most often caused by upper airway disease, such as laryngeal paralysis, tracheal collapse or soft palate dysfunction. It can also be caused by collapsing trachea, chronic bronchitis or allergies. If your dog is wheezing, it is important to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible so that the cause can be determined and treated.

Nasal Discharge

Nasal discharge is common in dogs and can be caused by a number of different conditions. If your dog is having trouble breathing, or if the discharge is green, yellow, or bloody, it could be a sign of an infection and you should take them to the vet. Other possible causes include allergies, foreign bodies, and tumors.


If your dog is hacking, it could be a sign of many different things. It could be Kennel Cough, which is a respiratory infection, or it could be an allergy. If your dog is hacking, the first thing you should do is take them to the vet to get a check-up.


Antibiotics are the first treatment for Bordetella, and they are most effective when given within the first few days of illness. The most common antibiotic used to treat Bordetella is doxycycline, which is given orally. Your dog will need to take antibiotics for 7-14 days.


There are many possible treatments for a dog that hacks, including:
-Steroids: These can be given orally or via injection and help to reduce inflammation in the airways.
-Antihistamines: These can be given orally or topically (ointments and creams applied to the skin) and help to reduce histamine levels, which can contribute to inflammation.
-Nebulization: This is a type of inhalation therapy that uses a machine to deliver medication directly to the lungs in a fine mist.
-Oxygen therapy: This involves giving your dog supplemental oxygen to help them breathe more easily.

Your veterinarian will likely recommend one or more of these treatments based on the severity of your dog’s hacking and the underlying cause.

Cough suppressants

Cough suppressants help to relieve coughing by reducing the urge to cough. However, they do not treat the underlying cause of the cough. Cough suppressants are available as liquids, tablets, capsules, and syrups. They are typically taken every 4 to 6 hours as needed.

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