I’ve noticed, over the last 18 months or so, that RainBob has developed a bit of a cough – usually first thing in the morning or when he has been having a nap throughout the day. He wakes up and coughs like a dirty old man who’s been on the Woodbines!!! He doesn’t do it after exercise so this is not a trigger suggestive of a heart problem. He has had it for a fair while, so it’s not Kennel Cough either.
So, I got to thinking.  Perhaps as it happens just when he has been sedentary, lying down, that maybe it is “gunk” for want of a better word, collecting in the vessels of his lungs in the same way as the mucus sticks and collects with conditions like Cystic Fibrosis? For this condition, there is a technique called percussion which is used to free up the airways:-
“Postural drainage and percussion (PD&P) are often used together to help clear the lungs and airway in cystic fibrosis (CF). Postural drainage uses gravity to drain thick, sticky mucus. It moves the mucus from the small airways of the lungs to the large airways where it can be coughed up and spit out.”
*The best way is to use gravity to help you so either with the dog standing, head pointing downwards, lying with his bottom on a cushion, or even lying draped over your lap so that the head is downwards, this should encourage the “gunk” to leave the lungs.
*Cup your hands and apply a rhythmic, light tapping along the ribcage.
*Start your percussion from the base of the lungs and pat forwards, towards the head if you can.
(In the video I’ve attached, I’ve not done it quite as described above as this was filmed before I had learned more about the technique and how best to action it.  I have since spoken to somebody who actually uses postural drainage techniques on himself, and this method is a more effective way apparently.)

*Finish your session off with a light massaging of the chest, pushing upwards towards the head.

I started doing this technique with RainBob – literally only about 3 minutes a day, in the morning, as per the video. I cannot believe the difference this has made to him. Without the percussion he was hacking for about a minute EVERY SINGLE MORNING. Now, he might hack ONCE every other day or so, if that.  Here’s a tiny video to show you how the cough sounds – its just one hack but this is how good he has got since starting the percussion.

He’s an old boy – now 12.5 years old. I won’t be investigating or poking him about to see exactly what is going on, but if I can keep him comfy in a way that he actually pretty much enjoys, then that’s got to be a winner … I’m not sure if this technique is “a thing” with dogs, and I’m certainly not a qualified canine physio or anything like that, but this is something that has worked for us and I thought it might be worth a share with you too, just in case it’s useful for any of your oldies. This for me is experimental and all dogs are different 😉
As with any new sign, symptom or ailment, the best advice is always to speak to your vet for professional diagnosis and a sound, evidence-based treatment plan 😉 xx


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