Cupping, also known as coupage or percussion therapy, is a method of treatment designed to help loosen mucus and respiratory secretions to help clear the lungs and open airways in dogs with pneumonia. This therapy works best when following nebulizing treatments that help to moisten the airway secretions. Because it should be performed three to four times a day until your dog recovers from the pneumonia, your veterinarian will often instruct you to do this at home.
Coupage Objectives and Benefits
The objective of coupage is to help loosen and dislodge mucus and fluids that build up in the lungs when a dog has pneumonia. When the mucus loosens, it enters the airways, allowing your dog to cough it out and clear the airways. Once the secretions are expelled, there is more space in the airways, allowing for easier breathing for your dog, which is the ultimate goal.
Nebulization and Coupage
A nebulizer is a machine that creates a fine mist of water droplets for your dog to inhale. Once inhaled, these droplets help to moisten the mucus in the respiratory tract, making them easier to loosen and cough up. Often your veterinarian will send you home with a nebulizer to use. To help keep the airways moist at home, a humidifier adds moisture to the air and may help keep the airways moist. If you do not have access to a nebulizer, placing your dog in the bathroom with a hot shower running fills the air with moisture and works in a similar manner.
Your veterinarian should demonstrate and teach you the proper techniques for coupage therapy at home. Before performing coupage, use the nebulizer for the instructed amount of time, often 5 to 10 minutes. Performing coupage uses the hands, formed in a cup shape over your dog’s chest. The cupped shape allows for air between your hand and the chest. Coupage involves rhythmic striking of the chest, similar to playing a drum. It will sound similar to a horse galloping. Proper location of your hands depends on your dog’s size and your veterinarian will show you exactly where to perform coupage.
Considerations and Warnings
Do not perform coupage without first talking with your veterinarian and seeing exactly how to do it. Do not feed your dog before performing nebulization or coupage therapy. This increases the risk of food aspiration into the airways.