What is a hacking cough?
A hacking cough is a dry, persistent cough.
If this isn’t what you meant by ‘hacking’, scroll down this post a few subheadings to see possible causes of non-hacking coughs.
What if your pug is constantly hacking?
If your pug is constantly hacking, you should visit your vet to get them examined. It could be helpful to take a video clip of your pug hacking so your vet can hear what it sounds like, even if they don’t cough while in the office.
What could cause constant hacking in a pug?
There are a variety of different reasons why a pug may develop a consistent hacking cough. Here are a few possibilities
Kennel cough is a disease that dogs can catch from other dogs. The main symptom of it is a high pitched, honking cough that is dry. It can also include a fever, nose and eye mucus, and breathing trouble.
Dogs should be vaccinated against kennel cough, to reduce the odds of them catching it. If your pug has been around any other dogs such as at doggy daycare, at a dog park, or dog kennel/boarding, this is a greater reason to suspect kenel cough. This can be treated with medications after seeing your vet.
Collapsing trachea. Pugs are prone to collapsing trachea. The coughing sound from collapsing trachea is often compared to a honking goose or to how a child sounds when they have croup. It can be treated with medications, and being aware of what they may be breathing in may also help. For example, keeping them away from smoke or household cleaners which may irritate their airways.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Yes, dogs can get COPD. Cough, wheezing and gurgling sounds are the typical symptoms for dog COPD. Many pugs have an elongated palate and that can increase the odds of them developing COPD. The symptoms of COPD can be helped with medications after your dog is diagnosed.
What about a ‘wet’ cough?
If your pug has more of a wet sounding cough, heart disease needs to be ruled out.
What if it sounds like they’re trying to cough something up?
Sometimes people use hack to not refer to a dry cough but instead, they mean a cough that souds like you’re trying to vomit something up. For example “it sounds like that cat is trying to hack up a hairball.”
If your pug sounds like they are trying to “hack” something up, this should be something you see your vet about. It could be heart related, or more advanced collapsing trachea or COPD as those sometimes cause gagging or guggling type noises.
If your pug isn’t regularly sounding like they are trying to hack something up, but it is more occasional, they might be reverse sneezing. If it’s sort of an intense episode where they breathe deeply several times in a row, that’s probably a reverse sneeze attack. When my pugs would have reverse sneezing they’d pull their ears back while inhaling hard.
It reminded me of how humans with a lot of mucus in their nose sometimes make a snorting sound as they clear their nasal passageway by pulling mucus from their nose into their throat, or before “hocking a loogie”. When pugs reverse sneeze, it’s like they make that nose-clearing sound several times in a row. In the case of reverse sneezing, it’s actually a muscle spasm. Sometimes gently massaging their neck helps relax the muscle and end the reverse sneezing a bit earlier.