My 13-year-old Cavalier has heart disease and has been on lots of medication for several months, but he still coughs quite a lot. Is there anything we can do to help his cough?

Graham Finch advises…

Unfortunately, Cavaliers are prone to heart disease, but heart medications usually help significantly and will prolong life expectancy. In dogs with heart disease, coughing can be caused by two things. Where the heart is not pumping efficiently, it affects the circulation, which ultimately builds up to a collection of fluid on the lungs – pulmonary oedema – which results in a cough. Generally, this is treated with a diuretic called Furosemide. The dose of Furosemide can be adjusted to see if this helps reduce the cough, but it is important to keep an eye on kidney function with blood tests. Most dogs with pulmonary oedema will respond quickly and effectively to Furosemide. Where dogs don’t respond to the diuretic, the cough may be caused by cardiac enlargement. The heart tries to compensate for the disease by getting bigger and this can then push up on to the windpipe and cause a cough. I suggest having a chat with your vet to see what they think about it.

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