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Home > Dogs > Are Cough Drops Safe for Dogs? Vet Approved Advice!

Are Cough Drops Safe for Dogs? Vet Approved Advice!

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

Veterinarian, DVM

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

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Cough drops can help us 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, as dogs get coughs too. 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 you should never give your dog a cough drop for any reason.

divider-dog paw

Why Can’t Dogs Have Cough Drops?

Dogs cannot have cough drops for the simple reason of the ingredients in these products. Cough drops are not meant for canine consumption, and the ingredients in cough drops are downright toxic to our canine fur babies.1

To better understand the harm, let’s break down common ingredients found 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 ok 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 this 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 results 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 an extremely toxic ingredient and should never be given to your dog in any capacity or under no circumstance.6 Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in many breath mints, sugar-free gum, peanut butter, and much more. In fact, this sugar substitute is showing up in many over-the-counter medicines for humans.
    For dogs, this ingredient can cause seizures in as little as 30 minutes after ingestion. A dog’s pancreas becomes confused, thinking the substance is real sugar. It will then release 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 of something else that may have 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 Credit: 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 it’s approved by your veterinarian. That said, 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 coughs on occasion, it might not be a cause for alarm, but if the cough is frequent, ensure you take your dog for an examination right away. A cough could indicate something more serious going on, 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 that 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 to not be feeling well or has developed a cough. Your vet will most likely perform a chest X-ray to see what’s going on and implement a treatment plan if necessary.


Final Thoughts

Cough drops are made to help humans with a cough, not canines. Cough drops contain too many harmful and toxic ingredients for dogs that could cause extreme illness and possibly death.

Simply put, 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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