My Dog Ate Cough Drops: Should I Worry? (Solved & Explained!)

There are many perils and potential dangers for a pet in your home, and some of them can seem almost innocent on the surface. For example, should you be worried if your dog ate cough drops?

Cough drops and other cough suppressant sweets can contain ingredients that are very harmful to dogs. Most cough drops can cause some degree of gastrointestinal distress, but those that contain xylitol or benzocaine can result in more serious issues. You should check the list of ingredients on the package and contact a vet if you are at all worried.

Read ahead to find out what to do if you discover that your dog ate cough drops, including the potential risks that your pet can face and how to stop it from happening again in the future.

Is It Dangerous If My Dog Ate Cough Drops?

Cough drops might seem completely edible, and even beneficial to your health, but they are designed to be consumed by humans and not dogs. Some of the ingredients that cough suppressants might contain can be seriously harmful and extremely dangerous for canines.

The level of potential risk all depends on what the cough drops themselves are made from, and how much your dog consumes.

Any cough drops can cause some problems for your dog, though. They generally contain many ingredients that dogs don’t naturally consume on a regular basis, which can cause gastrointestinal distress and an upset stomach.

Although most cough drops are quite small, it is possible for them to become lodged and cause your dog to choke, particularly if they were still in the wrapper.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Choking

Cough drops are unlikely to become lodged in your dog’s throat on their own, but it is not impossible, and any packaging presents a much more serious risk. If your dog starts to choke, then there are three things that you can do.

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  1. Gently restrain your dog and open their mouth. You might be able to remove the object with a pair of large tweezers. Do not place your fingers inside your dog’s mouth or push the object down further!
  2. If your dog is small, lift them by their thighs and shake downwards a few times. This can help the object to dislodge, but it is only possible with a lighter dog.
  3. Perform the Heimlich meanouver. Make a fist and place it under your dog’s ribcage. Then, use the other hand to press onto your fist and help you apply pressure, squeezing up and inwards.

If your dog continues to choke and the object doesn’t dislodge, then you should contact a vet immediately.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Cough Drops?

If your dog has eaten cough drops and they are not choking, then the first thing to do is check the ingredients on the packaging. This will help you to determine what kind of issues they might face from what they have eaten.

Most cough drops have sugars, colors, flavors, menthol, and eucalyptus oil in them. These ingredients are not necessarily going to cause serious harm, but they can lead to an upset tummy, vomiting, and diarrhea. If this is all that your cough drops contain, then you should monitor your dog’s behavior closely to make sure they are not feeling too sick and keep them hydrated and comfortable.

Some cough drops, however, do have ingredients in them that can be much more harmful to your dog. The two main ingredients to look out for are xylitol and benzocaine


While it is not a common ingredient in cough drops, xylitol is a sugar substitute that is extremely toxic for dogs. Even a small amount can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), seizures, liver failure, or even death.


Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that might cause gastrointestinal stress for your dog, but it can also lead to much more serious conditions. Too high of a dose of benzocaine can cause methemoglobinemia, which is a form of anemia. This condition reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, and it can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of methemoglobinemia include:

  • Low mood
  • Weakness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Skin discoloration
  • Jaundice (liver failure)
  • Vomiting
  • Hypothermia
  • Facial swelling

If you see either xylitol or benzocaine on the list of ingredients for the cough drops that your dog has eaten, or if you notice any signs of illness or uncommon behavior, then you should call your vet straight away.

Why Do Dogs Eat Cough Drops?

Although cough drops aren’t designed for dogs, they are made to look appealing and taste good. The smell and appearance can be very tempting to dogs, particularly if they are very sweet or fragrant.

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Unfortunately, you can’t expect your dog to instinctively understand that cough drops aren’t for them – and they can look a lot like a treat.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Cough Drops?

Some dogs learn their lesson pretty quickly when something they’ve eaten hasn’t agreed with them, but it’s not worth the risk. Make sure that you keep all of your medications, including cough drops, in sealed containers that are out of your dog’s reach.

You should also be careful about what you throw away. Some wrappers or unfinished packages might still contain harmful ingredients – particularly when it comes to medicine.

Summary: My Dog Ate Cough Drops

So, what is going to happen if your dog ate cough drops? Well, depending on the ingredients they may be just fine, they might feel slightly poorly, or they might be at risk of more serious harm. They might also choke on them or suffer from a blockage, particularly if the drops were still in the packaging.

Check the ingredients of the cough drops straight away to see if they have consumed anything particularly dangerous. Look out for xylitol and benzocaine, in particular, and call the vet if they are present.

If your dog isn’t choking and there weren’t any dangerous ingredients in the cough drops, then you should monitor your dog to see if they start to feel poorly. Even the “safer” ingredients can cause an upset tummy, so keep your dog hydrated and be prepared to call the vet if you notice any serious symptoms.