Why Is My Dog Coughing After Swimming? Reasons

A refreshing dip in the pool or a frolic in the waves at the beach is an enjoyable pastime for many dogs, providing both exercise and relief from the scorching heat. 

However, if you’ve ever noticed your furry friend coughing persistently after a swim, it’s essential to pay attention. Canine water-related respiratory issues are more common than you might think, and they can range from mild irritations to serious health concerns. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the reasons why your dog might be coughing after swimming and explore what you can do to keep your canine companion safe and healthy in the water.

Understanding Canine Respiratory System 

Before we dive into the specifics of water-related coughing in dogs, let’s briefly explore their respiratory system. Dogs have a complex respiratory system, similar to humans, consisting of the nose, throat, and lungs. 

When a dog breathes, air enters through the nose or mouth, travels down the trachea (windpipe), and then passes into the lungs, where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide. Understanding this system is crucial when trying to diagnose and address any respiratory issues.

Common Causes of Coughing After Swimming

Inhalation of Water: One of the most common reasons dogs cough after swimming is the inadvertent inhalation of water. While they are skilled swimmers, dogs can sometimes inhale water when they swim vigorously, leading to coughing fits.

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Irritants in Water: Swimming in pools treated with chlorine or in natural bodies of water with pollutants can expose dogs to irritants that trigger coughing. These irritants can be inhaled or ingested during play.

Cold Water Shock: Sudden exposure to very cold water can cause dogs to inhale sharply, leading to a coughing reflex. This is often seen when dogs jump into frigid water unexpectedly.

Allergies: Just like humans, dogs can have allergies. If your dog is allergic to certain aquatic plants, algae, or other substances in the water, exposure may lead to coughing.

Infections: Bacterial or viral infections like kennel cough can manifest with coughing. If your dog swims in areas where infected dogs have been, they may contract these illnesses.

Heart Issues: In some cases, coughing after swimming can be a sign of underlying heart problems. The increased exertion during swimming may exacerbate these issues.

Signs and Symptoms 

Identifying the specific cause of your dog’s post-swim coughing can be challenging. However, paying close attention to accompanying symptoms is crucial. These may include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Gagging or retching
  • Wheezing or labored breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever

What to Do When Your Dog Coughs After Swimming 

If your dog coughs after swimming, it’s essential to take action to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Monitor Your Dog: Keep a close eye on your dog’s condition. If the coughing persists or worsens, consult your veterinarian.
  • Rinse and Dry: After swimming, rinse your dog to remove any potential irritants and dry them thoroughly, especially their ears.
  • Choose Swimming Spots Wisely: Opt for clean, well-maintained swimming areas, and avoid places with known pollution issues.
  • Vaccinations: Ensure your dog’s vaccinations, including bordetella, are up-to-date, as this can prevent certain respiratory infections.
  • Provide Fresh Water: Always have fresh water on hand to prevent your dog from drinking pool or seawater. 
  • Consider a Life Jacket: If your dog is not a strong swimmer, consider a life jacket to reduce the risk of water inhalation.
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Preventing Water-Related Coughing 

Prevention is often the best approach to avoiding water-related coughing in dogs. Here are some tips to keep your furry friend safe and healthy during water play:

  • Swimming Lessons: If your dog is new to swimming, consider professional lessons to build confidence and skill.
  • Stay Close: Always supervise your dog while swimming, especially in unfamiliar or potentially hazardous waters.
  • Regular Vet Check-Ups: Schedule routine check-ups with your vet to catch and address any underlying health issues.
  • Water Quality: Ensure the water your dog swims in is clean and free from toxins or pollutants.


In conclusion, while seeing your dog cough after swimming can be concerning, it’s important to remember that several factors can contribute to this issue. 

By understanding the common causes, signs, and preventative measures, you can help keep your canine companion safe and sound during their aquatic adventures. 

Always prioritize your dog’s health and consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about their respiratory well-being. 

With proper care and attention, you can continue to enjoy countless splashing moments with your furry friend without worry.