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Persistent cough

My 13-year-old Jack Russell Terrier has developed a harsh cough that has been going on now for two months. My vet has suggested a chest X-ray, but I’m on a tight budget. Do you think an X-ray is a good idea?

Graham Finch advises…

It does sound like it’s been going on for quite a long time, and most infections – kennel cough, for example, will resolve within one to two weeks. Also, while a physical examination can tell us a lot about what’s going on, unfortunately, it may only narrow down the possibilities, so yes, an X-ray does sound like a good idea.

There could be a number of different conditions that can cause similar signs. Heart problems can sometimes occur in older dogs, as well as bronchitis; in both cases, treatment can be given that can help the symptoms and increase longevity, too.

In terms of cost, although there is the upfront expenditure, finding the root cause of the problem can be more efficient in the longer term. I would have a chat with your vet about the procedure and see what they advise.

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