Chihuahua Coughing Like Hairball Stuck In Throat? Here’s Why

Last Updated on July 26, 2021 by Marco

Chihuahua coughing like hairball stuck in throat? Our Chi article lists out the reasons behind your pet’s hacking and possible solutions.

Dog owners can get pretty nervous about their pets developing a cough. However, parents of Chihuahuas may face extreme anxiety over their canines’ coughing – given their small size. If your Chi has taken to hacking recently and you’re trying to figure out why – you’ve come to the right place.

Chihuahuas may develop a cough for numerous reasons. These include problems like bronchitis, kennel cough, heart disease, etc. But, before you go getting too anxious, take a moment to go through our Chiwawa Coughing Guide to get all the answers you need!

What Does Chihuahua Coughing Like Hairball Stuck In Throat Mean?

Just like humans can experience different types of coughing (wet or dry cough), Chihuahuas can also experience different types of hacking. Understanding the difference between different coughing sounds can help you identify what’s wrong with your pet. Here are some of the various coughing sounds that are common among Chis –

  • Snorting

If you hear your Chi makes sounds similar to snorting or huffing, it’s possible your pet’s experiencing ‘reverse sneezing.’

Reverse sneezing occurs when your Chi inhales rapidly due to a spasm. Generally, dogs going through reverse sneezing will extend their neck and produce snorting sounds that sound similar to coughs. The exact cause behind reverse sneezing remains a mystery, but the condition is typically classified as a respiratory reflex.

Typically, about of reverse sneezing won’t last more than a few seconds and doesn’t harm your Chihuahua. Although, if you notice your pet experiencing reverse sneezing often and for prolonged periods – it’s best to visit the vet. Your pet may be prescribed medication, such as anti-inflammatories or antihistamines to ease off the reflex.

chihuahua snorting

Read more about: When Do Chihuahuas Lose Their Baby Teeth

  • Deep and Dry Coughing

Deep, dry coughing in Chihuahuas can be a sign of Kennel Cough. While the term ‘kennel cough’ seems harmless, it’s best you don’t take the condition too lightly. Kennel cough is used to describe a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects your pet’s upper respiratory system (the voice box and windpipe).

Once your Chi contracts kennel cough, it can experience dry coughing that sounds somewhat similar to a honking sound. Kennel cough can also be accompanied by dry heaving, vomiting, or a watery discharge from the nose. Other symptoms also include weakness, reduced appetite, and fever.

If your Chi is displaying one or more of the symptoms listed above – schedule a trip to the veterinarian immediately. Moderate cases of kennel cough require no treatment and are left to run their course. However, extreme cases may require treatment via antibiotics, antihistamines, and anti-inflammatory medication.

  • Wet Coughing With Mucus

It’s best not to take the presence of a wet, mucusy cough in Chihuahuas lightly because it can signify the presence of pneumonia. The condition can develop due to various reasons, such as parasites, viruses, fungi, etc. Also, hale and hearty Chis are relatively safe from pneumonia, but senior canines and puppies are quite vulnerable to the illness.

Symptoms of pneumonia in Chihuahuas include fever, wet cough with mucus, rapid pulse rate, and breathing. Also, note that if your pet has a collapsing trachea – it’s susceptible to pneumonia too. If you suspect your Chi may have pneumonia, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.

Your veterinarian will diagnose pneumonia via blood tests and X-rays and will require a course of antibiotics to clear out the lungs.

Other Reasons For Chihuahua Coughing

Chihuahua choking and coughing can also result from health conditions listed below –

  • Collapsed Trachea

If your Chihuahua makes coughing noises that can be likened to honking sounds, with symptoms like reluctance to move and coughing right after eating or drinking – it may have a collapsing trachea.

The condition is quite prevalent among toy dog breeds like Chihuahuas and occurs when the cartilage rings around the canine’s windpipe weaken. This causes your pet’s trachea to drag inwards when inhaling and creates a type of obstruction. Chihuahuas of all ages are prone to this condition. A collapsing trachea requires expert medical care to ensure their quality of life isn’t affected.

  • Congestive Heart Failure

Another reason behind Chihuahua coughs, especially at nighttime, can be congestive heart failure. The condition develops when a canine’s heart is weak and isn’t able to meet the demands of the body. Heart disease can also end up affecting your dog’s lungs, liver, and kidneys.

In the early stages of heart disease, your pet’s coughing can be irregular. However, as the disease progresses, the coughing can increase until a canine is coughing all the time. Thankfully, heart disease isn’t something that develops rapidly. The condition can be detected early through regular vet checkups.

Visiting The Vet When Your Chihuahua Starts Coughing

The reasons behind your Chihuahua coughing like hairball or two are lodged in its throat can vary from ordinary to serious. For instance, your Chi may be coughing due to a cold or reverse sneezing. Nevertheless, your pet’s cough can also be related to serious health concerns like kennel cough or a collapsing trachea.
That’s why we always recommend pet parents to watch their pets very closely, and if the cough doesn’t diminish after a day or two, it’s smart to take your Chi for a checkup to the veterinarian’s office. When your vet’s diagnosing the reason for your Chihuahua’s cough, they may ask you about when the cough developed and if your pet has any other symptoms.
Your vet may also run a few diagnostic tests to rule out other causes, such as blood tests, urine analysis, and x-rays.


It’s natural to feel apprehensive about your Chihuahua developing an illness. But, the first course of action in such situations is that you don’t panic. Try and get your pet as comfy as possible and keep a close eye on its health. If your Chihuahua’s coughs start diminishing after a day or two and there are no other symptoms – there’s nothing to worry about. However, if you feel you want to take your Chihuahua for a quick checkup for your peace of mind – do so.

Read more about: Why Do Chihuahuas Cry: Ways To Calm Your Chi

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