Cough Medicine For Dogs

Joanne Keenan
Cough Medicine For Dogs

A simple cough in your dog can send you reaching for something to stop the cough. But many cough medicines are risky … even the ones your vet might suggest.

Can Dogs Take Human Cough Medicine?

Cough medicine made for people can contain toxic ingredients that could make your dog even sicker. Here’s what you might find in cough medicine:

  • Acetaminophen. It’s found in Tylenol. Its use is questionable and can cause poisoning. Some brands contain 325 to 500 mg per Tbsp which can poison puppies or toy breeds.
  • Ibuprofen. It’s highly toxic to dogs. Doses as low as 25 mg/kg can be toxic.
  • Pseudoephedrine. A dose of 30 mg can cause toxicity.
  • Xylitol. This is used as a sweetener, and can be life-threatening.
  • Caffeine. Dogs are super sensitive to it. 
  • Antihistamines. They can suppress your dog’s natural healing process.
  • Menthol. It can irritate the lungs or cause digestive issues.
  • Alcohol. Most contain small amounts but some contain as much as 10% or more. 
  • Artificial color. This is linked to hyperactivity, allergies and cancer. 

Is There A Dog-Friendly Cough Medicine For Dogs?

Not really. Your vet might prescribe cough medicine for dogs with the ingredients dextromethorphan and guaifenesin. Even though they’re made for dogs, here’s what you should know. 


It suppresses the cough center of your dog’s brain to help stop dry hacking coughs. Side effects include nausea and diarrhea … even twitching and seizures. It’s not recommended for dogs with liver disease, skin allergies or … chronic coughs! And it can interfere with medications taken for cognitive issues. Cough medicines with dextromethorphan have serotonin. If too much accumulates, it can result in serotonin syndrome. This causes confusion and vomiting and can lead to seizures and even coma. Without treatment, it can lead to death. 


This is used to loosen mucus in the throat and chest. But it’s easy to give too much and cause vomiting, abnormal breathing, hypothermia and tremors. You might notice increased heart rate, panting and staggering.

Safe Alternatives for Cough Medicine For Dogs

Prevention is always the best medicine. Here’s how to support the immune system so your dog can fight coughs and other illnesses that come his way.

1. Feed Probiotics And Prebiotics

Nearly 90% of your dog’s immune system is in his gut. When you give your dog probiotics they help diversify the beneficial bacteria and support a healthy gut flora and lining. . Prebiotics, including fermented food, garlic, honey and mushrooms, make probiotics more effective.

2. Manuka Honey

Honey is an effective immune system enhancer because it contains hydrogen peroxide (a strong antiseptic). But Manuka honey is even more potent because it has powerful chemical components that promote the body’s innate resistance to pathogens.

Manuka honey also contains antioxidants and is a natural prebiotic to help support the immune system.

How To Feed Manuka Honey

Look for Manuka honey with a high UMF (unique Manuka factor) of at least UMF10+. Start with a half dose and gradually increase to the full amount.

  • Dogs under 20 lbs: ½ tsp 2x per day
  • Dogs 20-60 lbs: 1 tsp 2x per day
  • Dogs 60 lbs or more: 2 tsp 2x per day

Cautions: If your dog has a viral infection, look for honey with at least UMF20+. Don’t give honey to dogs with diabetes. Avoid honey for dogs under a year of age as honey contains Clostridium botulinum spores that can make them sick. 

3. Medicinal Mushrooms

Mushrooms contain antioxidants that can support your dog’s immune system. Mushrooms have beta-glucan, which is a prebiotic polysaccharide that feeds the healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut. Shiitake, reishi and maitake are especially supportive.

You want to use a mushroom supplement made from the full mushroom body, that isn’t only from mycelium. Mycelium is only part of the mushroom and isn’t as rich in beta-glucans. Follow dosing instructions on the label.

4. Garlic

Studies show garlic supports your dog’s health. When chopped, alliin in garlic combines with enzymes and converts to allicin. This converts to compounds that contain sulfur to support white blood cells. Garlic is also a prebiotic that nourishes probiotics.

How To Feed Garlic

To feed garlic you need to chop it and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then add it to your dog's meal. Give ⅓ tsp of garlic for every 10 lbs of body weight. 

Some dogs shouldn’t have garlic including:

  • Pregnant dogs
  • Puppies
  • Akitas, Shiba Inus
  • Dogs on certain medications, like blood thinners

RELATED: Benefits of garlic for dogs … 

5. Homeopathy

Homeopathic remedies can work fast on coughs. Choose the remedy that best fits your dog’s symptoms. 

  • Aconite - seems like there’s something in your dog’s throat
  • Drosera - dry cough, violent coughing spells, ticklish throat. Cough can be worse when lying down.
  • Rumex crispus - cough is dry and persistent
  • Spongia tosta - barking cough, improves when eating or drinking warm things; cold food and drink makes it worse; may waken your dog while sleeping.

Use a remedy with a 30C potency. It’s easiest to wet dose your dog. Add 2 or 3 pellets or a few granules to a small amount of spring or filtered water. Stir it 10-20 times. Use a dropper or spoon to drip the remedy on your dog’s gums. Give 3-4 doses in the first 2 hours.  If your dog improves, you can stop dosing, but redose if the symptoms start to return. If you don’t see any change, try a different remedy. 

Try these safe, natural alternatives to help avoid or get rid of your dog’s cough.

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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.