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Are Cough Drops Safe for Dogs? Vet Approved Advice!

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

blue cough drops

Are Cough Drops Safe for Dogs? Vet Approved Advice!


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cough drops can help humans when we’re sick. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a nagging cough that lingers, and cough drops come to the rescue to quiet the cough, ease our sore throats, and soothe inflammation.

Humans, however, aren’t the only species that get coughs. Since cough drops are helpful to humans, what about dogs? Are cough drops safe for dogs? The answer is no; cough drops are not safe for dogs.

You should never give your dog a cough drop, and in this article, we’ll explain why.

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Why Can’t Dogs Have Cough Drops?

Dogs cannot have cough drops because of the harmful ingredients. Cough drops are not meant for canine consumption, and the ingredients in cough drops are toxic to our canine fur babies.1

To show you the risk, we’ll break down the common ingredients in cough drops.

  • Sugar: Plain sugar is not toxic to dogs, but it’s not something they should often have.2 If your dog has an occasional piece of fruit, don’t worry. Plain sugar is okay in small amounts and on occasion, but if ingested in large amounts, it could cause an upset tummy or even lead to pancreatitis.3
  • Eucalyptus oil: Eucalyptus oil is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses and should always be avoided.4 Ingestion of the oil causes weakness, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling.
  • Menthol: Menthol is commonly found in chewing gum and cough drops.5 It irritates the oral and digestive system tissues, and the effects in dogs can lead to quite an unpleasant stomach ache that produces vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of menthol poisoning in your dog can also involve lethargy, nausea, depression, and loss of muscle control.
  • Xylitol: Xylitol is a highly toxic ingredient and should never be given to your dog in any capacity or under any circumstance.6 Xylitol is a sugar substitute in many breath mints, sugar-free gum, peanut butter, and more. In fact, it’s in several over-the-counter medicines for humans.
    For dogs, xylitol can cause seizures in as little as 30 minutes after ingestion. The dog’s pancreas becomes confused, thinking the substance is real sugar. It then releases insulin to store the substitute. The insulin removes real sugar, leaving the dog weak. Liver failure can occur within 8 hours of ingestion.
  • Other flavorings and coloring

If your dog eats a cough drop with toxic ingredients, you can call Animal Poison Control or the Pet Poison Helpline, both of which are available 24/7.

colorful variety of cough drops
Image By: PHENPHAYOM, Shutterstock

How Do I Remedy a Cough in My Dog Safely?

First and foremost, you should never try a home remedy cough suppressant unless your veterinarian approves it. However, honey mixed with warm water can help soothe coughs in dogs. You can also try an air humidifier to moisten the air inside your home.

If your dog occasionally coughs, it might not be a cause for alarm, but if the cough is frequent, ensure you take your dog for an examination immediately. A cough could indicate something more serious, and your veterinarian can determine the cause and get to the root of the problem. The sooner you take your dog to the vet for an assessment, the better.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe

Always check the ingredients in anything store-bought you may occasionally give your dog, such as peanut butter. As we’ve mentioned, xylitol can be found in numerous products, and if your dog ingests it, the consequences will most likely be life-threatening. Also, never give your dog a cough drop under any circumstances.

Keep your dog’s vaccines up to date, and always make an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog seems not to be feeling well or has developed a cough. Your vet will most likely perform a chest X-ray to see what’s happening and implement a treatment plan if necessary.

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Cough drops are made to help humans with a cough, not canines. They contain too many harmful and toxic ingredients for dogs that could cause illness and possibly death. Therefore, giving your dog a cough drop for a cough is not worth the risk. If your dog has developed a cough, take them to the vet for an examination. Your vet can give you safe home remedies to try or implement a treatment plan for something more serious.

Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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