Causes of a cough in a calf and how to treat it at home

Causes of a cough in a calf and how to treat it at home

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Cough is a common symptom that speaks of infectious, colds, or bacterial diseases in animals. Cows of any age can get sick, but coughs are common in young calves up to 5 months of age. Consider why a calf is coughing, how to treat it, how to diagnose diseases correctly, how to help an animal at home.

The main causes of cough

A cough most often signals a cold or a respiratory infection. This is facilitated by humidity, cold in the barn, drafts, dusty, dirty litter. Calf disease can be caused by a weakened immune system due to improper conditions and poor feeding. The deterioration of the protective function can cause stress due to weaning from the mother, transportation to another farm, eating unusual foods, and insufficient physical activity.

What other accompanying symptoms can be

Cough in cows is accompanied by discharge from the nose and eyes, shortness of breath. The animal breathes heavily, with a strong development of the disease - wheezing. His temperature rises, the calf refuses to feed, lies down, moves a little.

Diagnosing the problem

A symptom such as a cough alone cannot determine what caused it. If the cough does not go away on its own, and the situation worsens, you will need the help of a veterinarian. Before visiting him, you need to isolate the bull or heifer from the herd.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical symptoms and laboratory tests of blood tests, nasal discharge, as well as on the basis of data from a pulmonary biopsy and X-ray. It is impossible to treat calves or adult cows for cough on their own. Often this does not end with the animal's recovery, but with even greater harm to it.

Treatment methods

The therapy, the drugs used will differ depending on the diagnosis, because a cough can cause various diseases that are in no way related to each other.


Calves and cows get sick with bronchitis, which are forced to live in premises with non-compliance with hygiene standards, where it is cold and humid in winter, there are sharp temperature changes. Animals drink cold water, breathe air in which ammonia is dissolved, dust is present. Bronchitis in cows can be acute and chronic. The disease can be in the following forms: fibrous, catarrhal, purulent, hemorrhagic.

Cough with bronchitis in cattle is at first dry, prolonged, then becomes moist and deaf. May be accompanied by wheezing. With timely treatment, the disease can be eliminated in 1-1.5 weeks without complications and consequences.

Disease therapy begins with the isolation of a sick cow in a separate room. It should be warm, dry and ventilated at a constant temperature. You need to feed the animal with fresh grass or not dusty hay.

Medicines required for treatment: expectorant and antimicrobial drugs for a course of about 5-7 days.

The remedies are given with liquid food. In the chronic form of the disease, the calf is injected with drugs that expand the bronchi, inhalation with eucalyptus oil, menthol. They also connect folk remedies: rub the calf's chest with turpentine, warm it up with a lamp, give decoctions of thyme, coltsfoot, licorice.


Pneumonia is a common cause of coughing. At home, dairy calves usually get sick, in late autumn and winter. As with bronchitis, the cause of pneumonia is cold, dampness, humidity, drafts. In the warm season, pneumonia occurs against the background of a cold after overheating and subsequent hypothermia. Also, the disease develops if the feed is poor in retinol and calciferol.

In addition to coughing, inflammation can be determined by increased breathing, a runny nose, nasal discharge, and an increase in temperature. The state of the calf is depressed, the animal lies, eats little. Treatment consists in giving antibiotics of the tetracycline series and from the group of aminoglycosides, vitamin agents to maintain immunity. You can fight inflammation with novocaine blockade. To completely cure the disease, an integrated approach is required; therapy can take a long time.


The disease is of a parasitic nature, the causative agent is nematodes parasitizing in the bronchi and lungs of cattle. Parasites are transmitted from a sick animal to a healthy animal by eating food or drinking water contaminated with secretions. Most infections occur during the summer months.

Symptoms of dictyocaulosis in cattle: cough, rapid breathing, wheezing, nasal discharge, foam at the mouth, diarrhea. The calf is depressed, refuses to eat, fever is noted.

Diagnosis is by analysis of feces and nasal discharge. Treatment: taking antibiotics of various classes, specially designed to eradicate the disease: Ivomeca, Fenbendazole, Nilverma. The calf can be helped by injecting a warm mixture of crystalline iodine and potassium iodide in a ratio of 1 to 1.5. The mixture is diluted with distilled water at a ratio of 1500 to 1.

Folk remedies will not be able to help in this situation; it is not worth hoping that you can heal the calf on your own. If you suspect dictyocaulosis, you need to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. After a course of medication, the calf should be quarantined before being released into the herd.


Like humans, cows can get sick with tuberculosis. Sources of pathogens are sick animals; bacilli are transmitted to healthy individuals by contact with sick animals, and to calves through milk. Symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, wheezing.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of the data of the tuberculin test. No therapy is carried out, treatment with drugs is considered ineffective, sick animals are subject to culling. The premises where sick individuals lived are cleaned and disinfected. New cattle are first kept in quarantine, then transferred to the general herd. Prevention of tuberculosis - vaccination of young calves.

Preventive actions

Since the cause of diseases, the symptom of which is coughing, is non-observance of hygienic standards for keeping livestock, the owner is to blame for the incidence of diseases in cows. To prevent the cattle from getting infected and not getting sick, you need to keep them in clean stalls, monitor the humidity and temperature of the room, especially in autumn, winter and early spring.

You need to feed the animals with fodder, the nutrients of which could fully provide the livestock with the necessary components. Cows should always have clean fresh water readily available. When calves are born, care should be taken to ensure that they drink colostrum, which will help the animals activate the immune system. Babies should receive at least 7 liters of milk per day. Milk from sick queens after milking is unsuitable for drinking; it can be given only after boiling. When the kids grow up - vaccinate against common diseases.

Expert opinion

Zarechny Maxim Valerievich

Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.

It is important that the livestock stand on fresh bedding, which must be changed every day. Disinfect once a month, completely disinfect the calf shed with lime - 2 times a year. Wash drinking bowls and feeders, make sure that no leftover food remains, disinfect equipment with boiling water.

If the cows are kept in stalls, they should go out for a walk every day, but it is better to have the cattle spend the day in the pasture. This has a beneficial effect not only on the physical, but also on the mental state of animals.

Cough is a symptom of diseases of the respiratory system, which must be detected in time. If the disease is detected at the initial stage and the animal is treated, recovery occurs in most cases. If the problem is ignored, the whole herd can become infected, and then all the livestock will have to be treated.

The danger can threaten not only cows and calves, but also people working in the barn. It is possible to contract tuberculosis from animals. Preventive measures allow you to avoid diseases, reduce the cost of drugs and the time spent on treatment. Animals with strong immunity rarely get sick. If precautions are taken, you do not have to worry about how you will need to treat your wards.

Watch the video: Aug 26, 2008: Spotting and Treating Bovine Respiratory Disease (September 2022).