Why Is My Boston Terrier Coughing? 7 Reasons Why & What To Do

Has your Boston Terrier been coughing and you aren’t quite sure what is causing it?

Coughing is a symptom of some sort of underlying medical condition, and there are a wide variety of illnesses that can cause coughing in your Boston.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Coughing? 7 Reasons Why & What To Do

This article will review the 7 most common causes for Boston Terrier coughing and what you should do about the cough.

Boston Terrier Coughing: Causes & Treatments

Anything that irritates the throat or the lungs can cause a cough. Because of this, there are many different reasons why a Boston could be coughing ranging from mild illnesses such as kennel cough to severe life-threatening diseases such as heart failure.

If your Boston is coughing, the first step is to consult with a veterinarian. The treatment and solution for your Boston’s cough will depend on what the underlying cause of their cough is.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Coughing? 7 Reasons Why & What To Do

7 Common Causes Of Boston Terrier Coughing

Why is your Boston coughing? These are the seven most common causes for coughing in Boston Terriers. 

In addition, I will cover the treatments for these causes of coughing.

1. Allergies

Allergies are an extremely common reason that Boston Terriers might cough. Anything that can cause irritation to the airways such as pollen in the air can cause coughing in Bostons.

A cough from allergies can be a mild dry hacking cough and only occur seasonally. Alternatively, severe allergies can cause bronchitis which will result in an incessant deeper cough (continuing without pause or interruption). 

Want to learn more about allergies in Boston Terriers? Check out this article, Dog Allergy Guide.

Treatment For Allergies In Boston Terriers

If your vet diagnoses your Boston with allergies, they may want to start your Boston on an anti-inflammatory cough medication such as steroids. If the allergies are severe, your vet may prescribe a steroid inhaler such as fluticasone.

2. Collapsing Trachea

Collapsing trachea occurs when the trachea, or breathing tube, collapses on itself. This can cause a honking cough which can get worse when your Boston gets excited or exercises.

Smaller breed dogs like Boston Terriers may be more prone to developing collapsing trachea. 

Bostons with bronchitis or who are overweight may also be more likely to develop tracheal collapse.

Treatment For Collapsing Trachea In Boston Terriers

If your Boston has been diagnosed with collapsing trachea, your vet may recommend either medical therapy or surgery.

For medical therapy, it is a good idea to switch to a harness to decrease the pressure on the neck. Also, you may need to keep your Boston from getting overly excited. 

Check out this soft harness by Gooby on Amazon. This harness is x-framed to avoid choking of the throat and soft, check it out here, Choke Free X-Frame Dog Harness.

If your Boston is overweight, your vet will probably recommend that you put your Boston on a diet. If your dog reaches an ideal weight, this can help improve the symptoms of collapsing trachea.

Your vet may also recommend veterinary prescribed cough medications to help control the cough. 

Do you think your Boston Terrier is overweight? Read this article by Boston Terrier Society, 7 Signs Your Boston Is Overweight.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Coughing? 7 Reasons Why & What To Do

3. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough in Bostons can cause a dry hacking cough. Sometimes the cough can even sound like a goose honking. 

Kennel cough is a common infectious disease that is diagnosed in Bostons that can be caused by many different viruses and bacteria including the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. This infection occurs from exposure to another dog infected with kennel cough.

If your Boston has recently been to the groomer, a boarding facility, the dog park, or doggy daycare and has a sudden onset of a cough, they may have kennel cough. 

Treatment For Kennel Cough In Boston Terriers

If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, it would be best to contact your veterinarian. 

The treatment for kennel cough is a combination of supportive care including prescription cough suppressants and antibiotics.

Usually, with prompt vet treatment of kennel cough, symptoms will improve within a few days.

Want to speak with a veterinarian right now? Visit the Boston Terrier Society’s speak with a vet page now to see your options, Speak With A Vet Now.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Coughing? 7 Reasons Why & What To Do

4. Heart Failure

Heart failure is a life-threatening condition that can cause coughing in Boston Terriers. Sometimes, the cough from heart failure can sound deep or moist. 

In addition, you may notice the following:

  • Difficulty Breathing 
  • Tiring During Exercise 
  • Or Increased Respiration Rate

Heart failure occurs most commonly in Bostons when there is a degeneration of one of the valves of the heart, also known as mitral valve insufficiency. 

Over time, this valve degeneration can lead to fluid build-up in the lungs which causes coughing.

Treatment For Heart Failure In Boston Terriers

The treatment for heart failure in Bostons is directed at moving the fluid off of the lungs and administering medications that will support the heart. 

There is no at-home treatment for heart failure in dogs and this condition must be promptly treated by a veterinarian because your Boston could potentially die if heart failure is left untreated.

5. Cancer

Primary lung cancer can cause a cough in Bostons. In addition, cancers in other locations of the body can spread (metastasize) to the lungs causing a cough.

Other symptoms commonly associated with cancer include weight loss, decreased energy, and decreased appetite.

Treatment for Cancer in Boston Terriers

The treatment for lung cancer in Bostons depends on which cancer your Boston has. Your veterinarian may recommend chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or supportive care.

Are you worried about cancer in your Boston Terrier? Read this article by Dr. Reinhard, Are Boston Terrier Prone To Cancer? 7 Signs To Watch For.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Coughing? 7 Reasons Why & What To Do

6. Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is another common cause for coughing in Boston Terriers. This disease is caused by a parasitic worm that grows in the heart and is transmitted by mosquitoes.

If your Boston has heartworm disease, you may not notice other symptoms besides the cough, some Boston’s may tire easily during exercise or feel tired.

Treatment for Heartworm Disease in Boston Terriers

If your Boston has been diagnosed with heartworms, your veterinarian will likely recommend injectable treatment to kill the heartworms.

The best treatment for heartworms is actually preventing them in the first place. Be sure to always give your Boston Terrier heartworm prevention monthly all year round.

Want to see what the founder of Boston Terrier Society uses for his Boston’s heartworm medication? Check it out here, heartworm medication.

7. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is another common cause of coughing in Bostons. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungal infections. Boston Terrier pneumonia can be diagnosed with an x-ray of the lungs.

Treatment for Pneumonia in Boston Terriers

The mainstay for the treatment of pneumonia in Bostons is directed at addressing the underlying cause of pneumonia. 

For bacterial infections, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics. If it is a fungal infection, your Boston will need to be on antifungal medication for months.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Coughing? 7 Reasons Why & What To Do

What To Do If Your Boston Is Coughing

If your Boston is coughing, these are the steps that you should take.

1. Step #1 – Contact A Veterinarian

Because there are many different causes of coughing in Bostons, it is best to have your Boston examined by a veterinarian if they are coughing. Some of the causes of Boston Terrier coughing can be life-threatening if left untreated.

The treatment and solutions for the cough vary widely depending on the underlying cause of the cough. As a pet owner, you will be unable to differentiate between the different causes of cough just by your pet’s symptoms. 

Only a veterinarian will be able to adequately diagnose your Boston’s cough and prescribe the appropriate treatments.

Want to speak with a veterinarian right now? Visit the Boston Terrier Society’s speak with a vet page now to see your options, Speak With A Vet Now.

2. Step #2 – Avoid Contact With Other Dogs

If your Boston has suddenly developed a cough, this might mean that they have some kind of infectious disease like kennel cough. 

It may be best to avoid contact with other dogs until you have visited the veterinarian to make sure that your dog won’t transmit anything to another dog.

Avoid the dog park, boarding facility, and doggy day-care until your vet tells you it is okay to visit those places.

3. Step #3 – Monitor For Other Symptoms

Watch your Boston closely to see if they are having any other symptoms. 

  • Are they breathing hard? 
  • How is their appetite and water intake? 
  • Have they had any vomiting or diarrhea? 

Knowing if your Boston is having any other symptoms can help the vet narrow down the potential cause for the cough.


Coughing in Boston Terriers is a symptom that points to an underlying medical condition. There are a wide variety of causes for coughing in Bostons and only your veterinarian will be able to determine the underlying cause for the cough.

Visit your veterinarian sooner rather than later because early treatment of coughing in Bostons often leads to the best patient outcomes.


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Addie Reinhard, DVM

Addie Reinhard, DVM- Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced small animal veterinarian. She is a Boston Terrier lover and always enjoys caring for her Boston patients at the veterinary clinic. She is passionate about providing helpful educational resources to pet parents regarding animal diseases and preventative care. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats.

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