Border Collie/Lab with Chest Congestion
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Alex
Posted on: July 24, 2008

My border collie/lab has bad chest congestion hacking up just phlegm. She is 4 and has taken antibiotics in the past but the cough comes back after awhile. I will sometimes give her some Robitussin which seems to help, but are there any other natural suggestions?

There are many reasons for chest congestion and without further information it is hard to offer an opinion. Has she been tested for any respiratory illnesses? How long has she had this condition for? Did it start after a trip to the kennel or did she arrive with it on adoption? Is there sneezing involved? What does the phlegm look like? Is she off her food? How are her energy levels? Did the vet say if she had a fever? Has she been losing weight? Did the vet investigate if there was a physical cause for the cough (e.g tracheal problems)? Is the congestion in the lower respiratory system only or are there upper respiratory issues as well? Are there allergies involved? These are just a few of the questions one should ask at this point.

As for the Robitussin, please see the following webpage:

This article mentions that Robitussin should only be given to dogs with dry, hacking coughs, not to those with wet, productive coughs. Your dog sounds like she falls into the latter category so perhaps this drug may not be the best choice.

Herbalists strive to find the cause of the problem and offer recommendations based on the actual core issue rather than on the symptoms alone. Therefore, my best advice would be to find out from your vet what the original concern is. Herbs often employed in respiratory conditions may include: elecampagne (Inula helenium), mullein (Verbascum thapsus), marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis), yarrow (Alchemilla millefolium), goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), astragulus (Astragulus membranaceous) and echinacea (Echinacea purpurea). However, before you decide to use any of these herbs or other supplements, please find out further information from your vet. Should you be interested in finding a practitioner in your area qualified in the use of herbs with animals, please see the website of the Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association (

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