Can I Give a Dog Cough Medicine?

In most circumstances, human cough medicine may be safe in very small doses, but it most likely will not be effective in treating the cough itself.

Can I give my dog human cough medicine?

It is best for the safety of the dog that they are not given human cough medicine. There are a few instances where human cough medicine may be beneficial, however, the medicine itself can be toxic as it is not formulated to be metabolized by dogs.

Dogs can suffer from a variety of different coughs and cough medicine for dogs is specially formulated to treat a specific type of cough. Often, human cough medicine does not contain the correct ingredients required to successfully treat the dog.

Why does my dog keep coughing and gagging?

Generally, humans suffer from coughs due to cold or flu viruses, more severe conditions such as pneumonia or coughs due to acid reflux or similar. In dogs, a cough can be caused by a much wider range of conditions.


This is a highly contagious disease that sounds much different from other coughs. It creates a dry, hacking sound and is caused by the parainfluenza virus. Kennel cough is easily treated with the correct medication and isolation from other dogs.


Untreated canine parasites such as lungworm and heartworm can cause a severe cough, as well as other medical issues. As the number of worms increases, more pressure is placed on the lungs, reducing oxygen flow and causing tissue inflammation. Simple cough medicine would be ineffective here. A course of de-worming medication is required and a short course of antibiotics for more serious cases.


Dogs can suffer from pneumonia, which causes a build-up of fluid on the lungs. Dogs with pneumonia have a persistent wet cough and will often make gurgling sounds. This is a serious condition and is fatal if left untreated.


These two usually go hand-in-hand. A dog with both conditions is likely to suffer from frequent bouts of coughing. Treatment for allergies is necessary. A generic cough medicine would not be effective.

What home remedy can I give my dog for coughing?

The best home remedy for treating a dog with a cough is a humidifier. Dogs living in hot, dry climates are more likely to suffer with coughs as the dry air can irritate the lungs. If you cannot get hold of a humidifier, you can create a steamy environment by running the shower for a short time on a hot temperature with the door closed.

Other home remedies include:

  • Pet sprays containing peppermint or eucalyptus
  • A tablespoon of honey with their meals
  • Coconut oil
  • Sweep, vacuum and mop regularly, especially if your dog has known allergies or asthma

When considering home remedies, always get the advice of your veterinarian. While some home remedies are proven to be effective, others are not and a small number can even make your dog’s cough worse.

Remember, your veterinarian has had years of specialist training and they are well equipped to give you accurate guidance on safe remedies for your dog.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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