What Is A Natural Cough Expectorant For Dogs?

A cough expectorant helps loosen mucus secretions in the airways, thinning mucus to make coughs more productive. Expectorants aid the body’s natural cough reflex to clear congestion from the lungs and respiratory tract. Owners may want a natural cough expectorant for dogs to avoid the side effects of conventional cough suppressants. Medications like dextromethorphan often contain chemicals and artificial additives. Natural options provide a safer alternative.

This article will examine the top natural expectorants for dogs that can help soothe coughing. We’ll recommend specific ingredients and recipes to loosen mucus and provide relief. The goal is to outline natural solutions to make coughs more productive without the use of harsh pharmaceuticals. You’ll learn when it’s advisable to use home remedies versus conventional medication or veterinary care.

Causes of Coughing in Dogs

Some of the most common causes of coughing in dogs include:

  • Kennel cough – Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is highly contagious and spreads easily where dogs are in close contact. It’s caused by bacterial and viral infections. Symptoms include a dry, hacking cough and retching. [1]
  • Heart disease – Coughing can sometimes be a sign of an underlying heart problem. Fluid buildup in or around the lungs or heart failure can cause coughing. [2]
  • Collapsing trachea – Weakness in the tracheal rings leads to a narrowing airway, causing a dry, goose-like honking cough.
  • Pneumonia – A bacterial, viral or fungal lung infection leads to coughing up mucus or foamy phlegm.
  • Lung cancer – Persistent coughing that gets worse may indicate a lung tumor.

Less common causes include parasites, fungus, foreign objects, pneumonia and allergies. Coughing is the body’s way of trying to expel irritants from the airways. Seek prompt vet attention for any prolonged, worsening cough in dogs.

Conventional Cough Medications

Conventional veterinarians often prescribe cough suppressants and expectorants to treat coughing in dogs. Some common medications include:

  • Dextromethorphan – An over-the-counter cough suppressant that blocks cough reflexes. It can cause sedation and gastrointestinal irritation in dogs (Dog Naturally Magazine, 2022).
  • Guaifenesin – An expectorant that helps thin mucus secretions. It has minimal side effects but is not as effective for chronic coughs (TSC RX, 2022).
  • Hydrocodone – A prescription narcotic cough suppressant with sedative effects. It has a high potential for addiction and side effects (Pet Wellbeing, 2022).

While conventional cough medications can provide temporary relief, they don’t treat the underlying cause of coughing. They also carry risks of side effects like lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs. More natural remedies may be safer alternatives.

Natural Cough Expectorants

Natural cough expectorants can provide relief for dogs without the side effects of conventional medications. Several natural substances have expectorant properties that can help loosen mucus, soothe airways, and suppress coughs in dogs.

Honey is an effective natural cough suppressant. It coats the throat, soothes irritation, and thins mucus. Manuka honey in particular contains antioxidants and prebiotics that may boost immunity and gut health (1).

Herbal teas, such as those containing marshmallow root, licorice root, or thyme, can help calm coughs. The mucilage in marshmallow root coats the throat, while thyme contains antioxidants and antibacterial properties (2).

Peppermint is another herb that can suppress coughs. Menthol has an expectorant effect to thin mucus. Peppermint also relieves throat irritation and tightness. It’s available as an essential oil or as an ingredient in herbal blends (3).

Essential oils like eucalyptus, rosemary, and frankincense contain compounds that help clear mucus and open airways. Diffusing them aromatically can bring relief. Combining with a carrier oil allows topical application on the neck and chest (1).


Honey has been used for centuries as a natural cough remedy and expectorant for both humans and animals. It works due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey helps thin respiratory secretions and loosen phlegm, allowing dogs to cough it up more easily.

Research has shown that honey can help relieve coughs as effectively as over-the-counter medicines like dextromethorphan. The honey coats the throat and provides a demulcent effect that soothes irritation. Honey also contains antioxidants that can help strengthen the immune system.

For dogs, a common dosage is 1 teaspoon of raw, organic honey per 10 pounds of body weight, given 2-3 times per day. It’s best to dilute the honey in warm water or broth for easier ingestion. Honey should not be given to puppies under 6 months old due to risk of infant botulism. As with any new supplement, owners should monitor for any adverse reactions.

Some specific honey-based cough remedies made for pets include PawHealer Dog Cough Remedy-Hound Honey Syrup.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas can be an effective natural expectorant for dogs with coughs. The herbs have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that can help soothe irritated airways and loosen mucus.

Licorice root tea contains glycyrrhizin which acts as an expectorant and relieves coughing. Steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried licorice root in 1 cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes. Let cool and give 1-2 teaspoons to small dogs or 1 tablespoon to large dogs 2-3 times a day.1

Thyme contains thymol which has antibacterial and antiviral effects. Add 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves per cup of hot water and steep for 10 minutes. Give 1-3 teaspoons to small dogs or 1-2 tablespoons to large dogs 2-3 times a day.1

Ginger root tea can help expel mucus and suppress coughing. Steep 1⁄4 teaspoon grated ginger root in 1 cup hot water for 5-10 minutes. Give 1-2 teaspoons to small dogs or 1 tablespoon to large dogs 2-3 times a day.1


Peppermint contains menthol, which can help loosen mucus and phlegm in a dog’s airways and act as a natural expectorant. The menthol helps stimulate airflow and opens up nasal passages, allowing the dog to breathe easier and cough up excess mucus. According to research, menthol has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties as well that may provide additional relief from coughing (source).

When using peppermint for dogs, it’s important to properly dilute it before use. Peppermint oil is very concentrated and can be toxic to dogs if used undiluted (source). A safe way to administer peppermint is to add 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil to 1 cup of coconut or olive oil. Then rub a small amount of the diluted oil on the dog’s chest or back of the neck. The scent from the oil will help open airways when inhaled. Do not apply peppermint oil directly under or in a dog’s nose. Monitor for any skin irritation as well. Only use 100% pure therapeutic grade peppermint oil. Spearmint is a gentler alternative if peppermint causes discomfort.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can be an effective natural expectorant for dogs when used properly. Some oils that can help clear mucus and soothe coughs include eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil. Always dilute essential oils before use on dogs. Eucalyptus oil, in particular, can help loosen mucus and make coughs more productive. According to Radha Beauty, diffusing eucalyptus and lavender oils can provide relief for kennel cough. Other gentle oils like chamomile may also help soothe coughs. When diffusing for dogs, use only 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils and monitor your dog closely for any irritation. Never apply undiluted essential oils directly on your dog’s skin or let them ingest oils. Always dilute with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil when applying topically. Use caution with oils like peppermint, wintergreen, and tea tree as they can be irritating at certain concentrations. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian before using any essential oils for your dog’s cough.

Other Remedies

Besides honey, herbal teas, peppermint, and essential oils, there are some other natural remedies that may help soothe a cough in dogs:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and may ease coughing. Salmon oil or fish oil supplements are sources of omega-3s for dogs.
  • Probiotics may help boost immunity and fight infection. Look for dog probiotic supplements or yogurt with active cultures.
  • Saline washes can help thin mucus secretions and make coughs more productive. Use a saline solution made for dogs and follow instructions.

While less studied, these other natural options may provide additional relief and support for a dog’s cough when used along with more proven expectorants.

When to See the Vet

While most coughs in dogs are mild and will resolve on their own, there are some symptoms that warrant a visit to the vet (leospetcare.com). These include:

  • Cough lasting more than 2-3 weeks
  • Cough that sounds wet or congested
  • Cough accompanied by lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • Gagging or retching
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Nasal discharge

Puppies, senior dogs, and immunocompromised dogs are more prone to developing secondary infections, so they should be taken to the vet sooner if a cough persists. It’s important not to try to self-diagnose coughs at home, as some serious conditions like heart disease, pneumonia, kennel cough and heartworm can initially present with coughing.

If your dog shows any concerning symptoms along with a cough, don’t hesitate to get them checked out. Catching respiratory infections early can help prevent complications and relieve your dog’s discomfort faster (ccspca.com). Your vet can pinpoint the cause and prescribe any necessary medications to get your pup back to full health.

Scroll to Top