While smoker’s cough and emphysema are disorders typically associated with humans, dogs can develop similar conditions due to other factors. Emphysema usually presents in middle-aged and older dogs and may be something that develops gradually, or all at once. Coughs can develop from exposure to secondhand smoke and air pollutants, but they typically have another underlying cause.
Emphysema occurs in a dog’s body when the dog breathes in and the air becomes diverted from the lungs and gets trapped in organs and tissues of the respiratory tract where it doesn’t belong. Emphysema can be triggered by preexisting inflammatory lung disease, an open wound or through trauma to the dog’s chest, windpipe or esophagus. The disorder typically presents with difficulty in breathing and a cough. Some dogs exhibit symptoms including decreased appetite and weight loss, increased heart rate and general weakness.
While a dog doesn't contract a smoker's cough, he can develop a variety of coughs that mimic this disorder, some of which can be exacerbated by exposure to smoke or other air pollutants. A honking cough is often a sign of tracheal collapse, while persistent, deep coughing, especially while lying down, can be a signal of congestive heart failure. A bubbling, wet cough is indicative of pneumonia or internal trauma, and a hacking cough is symptomatic of kennel cough.
Dogs and Secondhand Smoke
Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause oral and lung cancer in dogs. Dogs who already have a compromised immune system or suffer from emphysema, lung disease or heart ailments can be further compromised by smoke exposure. While a dog might not cough as a direct reaction to smoke, he may develop a smoke-related cough if he develops respiratory problems as a result of breathing in secondhand smoke.
Canine coughs are treated according to the ailment that produces the cough. Emphysema is treated by looking for ways to improve the dog’s overall respiratory function. This could be accomplished through oxygen therapy, the placement of thoracostomy tubes in the dog’s chest, and in severe cases, surgery to resect areas of damaged lung tissue.
Watch for signs and symptoms that indicate your dog may be suffering from emphysema or a cough-producing ailment. Your vet may diagnose your dog’s condition through X-rays, blood tests and by physical exam. If you’re a smoker, avoid lighting up around your dog to reduce his risk of contracting cancer.