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Dog Ate Cough Drops [This Is What You Know Need To Do]

The sweet smell of cough drops is a tempting scent for many dogs. To the point where if your dog found them, they’d likely give them a try. Besides, that’s why you are probably here. How dangerous is this? Are you now wondering how to respond and how urgently you may need to act? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you are going to need to know, consider and do. 

So, what should you do if your dog has eaten cough drops? If your dog has eaten cough drops, you should look at the cough drop’s ingredients to see if they contain the sweetener Xylitol. If they do, contact your vet. If they don’t, keep an eye on your dog and monitor for changes in their behavior. If your dog acts ill or refuses to eat, call your veterinarian.

Depending on a dog’s size, different amounts of Xylitol will affect dogs differently. 

But nevertheless, this compound is highly toxic to dogs. So, even if the cough drop is small and your dog is large, you are not going to want to take any chances here.

But that’s the thing. Not all cough drops contain this ingredient (although many do).

If you find yourself in the fortunate position that the cough drops don’t – your dog should be okay.

In those instances, it’s likely your dog will digest them in 1-2 days with no major side effects.

But you still need to remain vigilant – as we shall now see by continuing to explore below. 

What Will Happen To A Dog That Eats Cough Drops?

For most dogs that eat a stray cough drop or two, the side effects will be minimal. The most common outcome from eating cough drops would be a slightly upset stomach that could lead to one or two vomiting or diarrhea episodes. The level of concern for a severe reaction depends on several factors such as cough drop ingredients, size of your dog, the number of cough drops consumed, and if your dog ate the cough drop packaging and wrappers.

While none of a cough drop’s ingredients are normal dog food items, most of them are fairly harmless in the small quantities found in a cough drop.

One ingredient to keep an eye out for is Xylitol. 

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener sometimes used in cough drops to make them have a better taste for the person eating them. 

Xylitol is toxic to dogs. 

It can lower a dog’s blood sugar, is hard on their liver, and in some cases, cause seizures that could be life-threatening. 

Xylitol can be tolerated by most dogs in small amounts (such as those found in a single cough drop), but for small dogs, or dogs that eat several cough drops, it could be a real concern. 

Small dogs and puppies are more sensitive to toxic chemicals than larger dogs. 

Many times a dog does not stop at eating one cough drop.

If a dog of any size has consumed multiple Xylitol-containing cough drops, monitor them closely and consider a call to your vet.

If your dog ate wrappers or other cough drop packaging, you would want to monitor for signs of a digestive blockage. 

When your dog eats plain cough drops, the cough drop will dissolve enough to have no problem passing physically through the digestive system. 

Cough drop wrappers, however, will not break down as easily and may twist and ball up as they pass through your dog. 

A large ball of wrappers may have trouble passing through your dog’s intestines and get stuck. 

This blockage can stop food and waste from moving through your dog’s system and make them very ill. A blockage requires veterinarian assistance to treat.

When debating what effects to expect your dog to experience after eating cough drops, consider the size and age of your dog, the number of cough drops eaten, and if any packaging or other non-food material was eaten. 

Can Cough Drops Kill A Dog?

A dog dying from eating cough drops is rare but not impossible. A small dog or puppy could choke on a cough drop, and a dog who eats cough drops with Xylitol does run a risk of experiencing poisoning. If a dog develops a blockage from eating cough drop wrappers and is not seen by a veterinarian, the blockage could turn fatal.

With the above information in mind, it is important to know that a dog eating a cough drop is not cause for panic. 

Many dogs have eaten cough drops and been completely fine. 

The important thing is to know the risks involved and assess your dog’s individual risk of trouble from cough drop eating.

Take a look at the next section to determine the best action for you to take after your dog has eaten a cough drop.

What To Do Now That Your Dog Has Eaten A Cough Drop

If your dog has eaten a cough drop, do not panic. Instead, follow these steps to help your pet stay healthy.

Gather Information About The Situation

Did your dog just pick up the cough drop in front of you? If so, check their mouth to see if you can retrieve the cough drop.

Sometimes a fast-acting owner can prevent their dog from swallowing a cough drop.

If your dog ate cough drops while you weren’t around, take a look at the scene of the incident.

Make a note of what kind of cough drop was eaten, how many you think the dog may have eaten, and if your dog ate wrappers along with the drops.

If possible, check the ingredients of the cough drops your dog ate or look them up online to find out if they contain Xylitol.

Know When To Call Your Vet

Eating a cough drop does not always require a call to your vet, but there are some cases where calling your vet should happen.

If your dog ate cough drops with Xylitol, then giving your vet a ring is a smart idea.

Your vet can estimate the amount of Xylitol your dog has eaten and compare that with their weight, age, and overall health to help you determine if any immediate action needs to take place.

They may advise you to watch and wait, or they may have you visit the office or induce vomiting.

If your dog has severe stomach upset with multiple vomiting episodes or lasting diarrhea, call your vet.

Also, if after eating cough drops, your dog shows signs of a digestive block – bloating, irritability, pain, and discomfort, straining to use the bathroom – call your vet and tell them about the situation.

If your dog shows signs of choking – trouble breathing, gagging, excessive drooling, or loss of consciousness – call your veterinarian right away and treat the situation as a medical emergency.

Monitor Your Dog’s Health 

Some side effects of eating cough drops may not be immediately noticeable.

This is especially true for a digestive blockage.

Be extra watchful of your dog’s behavior in the 24-48 hour window after eating cough drops.

Your dog’s stomach may become mildly upset from the unnatural cough drop ingredients.

If your dog vomits once or has mild diarrhea, watch to make sure it doesn’t continue to happen or last for longer than 12 hours.

If vomiting or diarrhea continues, call your veterinarian.

A dog with a digestive blockage can become quite ill. Your dog may begin to refuse food or water, be lethargic, struggle to use the bathroom, and show signs of pain or swelling in its belly area.

If any of these symptoms occur, call your vet immediately and let them know about your dog’s behavior.

A vet’s intervention is needed to free the blockage.

If your dog ate cough drop wrappers, you might see them pass out of your dog in their stool in the next day or two.

This may seem gross, but it is a good sign that your dog is moving on from this incident.

Collect and dispose of any wrappers you find to prevent your dog from eating them again.

Avoid Future Cough Drop Eating

While it would be nice if our dogs learned their lesson the first time, some dogs will try to eat things like cough drops every chance they get.

To help prevent your dog from eating cough drops, make sure to keep them in a sealed bag or container high enough that your dog cannot reach them. 

If you keep cough drops in your purse or another traveling bag, hang the bang-up and out of reach when you aren’t carrying it.

Also, make sure that any trash cans where cough drop wrappers or uneaten pieces get tossed have lids and are behind closed doors.


While cough drops are not intended for dogs to eat, most dogs that eat them will be just fine. They are not beneficial though, so never feed them! 

Occasionally a dog may experience negative reactions to cough drops that range from mild to severe. 

That’s why proper monitoring is so crucial and calling your vet should you notice anything unusual in the hours that follow.

And if in doubt, put in the call!

Concerned or wondering what other things your dog can/cannot eat. Check out my related guides below: