Why Does Your Boston Terrier Sound Congested?

Nobody wants to see their little fur friend in distress, and coughing and wheezing noises can be very scary to listen to, and especially when they are coming from your adorable little Boston Terrier! Signs and symptoms of congestion often sound worse than it is, but it could also be something more serious that requires a vet check.

When a Boston Terrier sounds congested, it could be something simple like allergies, but congestion could also be a symptom of an infection, kennel cough, and even heart failure. Let’s have a look at what you can (and should) do if your Boston Terrier appears congested.

Congestion In Dogs

Fluid in a dog’s lungs is what causes congestion, and while it sounds scary, congestion isn’t always serious. Symptoms of congestion are a runny nose, which tends to be easily noticed in Boston Terriers, and fever, coughing, and breathing issues. 

It is unclear whether Boston Terriers are more prone to congestion, but it can be more noticeable and potentially more problematic due to their short snouts. Understanding why your Boston Terrier is congested is key to both preventing future congestion and treating any underlying conditions causing it. 

An important step is to contact your trusted veterinarian for advice and to make sure your Boston Terrier is properly diagnosed, but this article will help you understand congestion in Boston Terriers better, to notice the signs already at an early stage.

Why Does Your Boston Terrier Sound Congested?

First, we need to acknowledge the fact that Boston Terriers breathe differently than many other dogs and that their breathing can be heard even when they are breathing normally. The explanation is the size of their soft palate in the roofs of their mouths, as the airways are sometimes partially covered by it. 

What you want to look for is a change in how your Boston Terrier breathes, and below are a few examples of why a Boston Terrier might suddenly sound more congested than usual.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, and it is a highly contagious condition that causes inflammation in the upper respiratory system. Despite its name, dogs can get kennel cough in many other places other than a kennel.

Outbreaks of kennel cough are common at doggy daycares, boarding facilities, shelters, dog parks, and any other place where multiple dogs gather and socialize. Vet clinics are less commonly the culprit as a result of frequent sterilization of surfaces, but a dog could also pick it up while being groomed or at the vet.

By making sure your Boston Terrier is properly vaccinated, the risk of them contracting kennel cough is significantly smaller. It can still happen, but the symptoms tend to be less severe. Common symptoms of kennel cough are a hacking and dry cough that can sometimes almost sound like the dog is choking or about to vomit.

Collapsed Trachea

Tracheal collapse is more common in toy breeds and small dogs, and it is not unheard of in flat-faced breeds like the Boston Terrier. It is when the trachea literally collapses and prevents proper airflow. It is not always an emergency, but it can quickly turn into one where the dog is unable to breathe. 

A suspected tracheal collapse should always be checked by a veterinarian, as there are treatments and measurements you can take to make your little four-legged buddy better. 

Symptoms of a collapsed trachea are also coughing, but while also dry, it has more of a honking sound than kennel cough. Surgery may be necessary in more severe cases, as it helps open up the airways while the dog breathes.

Infections (Fungal)

Fungal infections could easily affect the airways, causing your Boston Terrier to sound congested. The only one who can diagnose a fungal infection is a vet, and your little fur friend will most likely be subjected to a few pain-free tests to determine the cause of coughing or other sounds related to chest congestion. 

Blastomycosis, Histoplasmosis, and Coccidioidomycosis are three examples of common fungal infections in dogs, and which one is more likely depends on a variety of factors such as where you and your dog are located, as some of these are more common in certain regions. 

Canine Cold/Influenza

Canine influenza virus is diagnosed with a blood test, and it is a disease that can easily be spread if a dog shares a water bowl with an infected dog, if one dog sneezes on another, direct contact and contaminated items like toys, chews, and surfaces. 

Most dogs that get canine influenza recover fully, and this includes Boston Terriers. However, any type of respiratory disease can be very uncomfortable for a flat-faced dog breed, and it is crucial that your Boston Terrier receives the right care to ease symptoms and speed up the recovery process.

Just like humans, dogs get colds, and this is perhaps one of the most common reasons a Boston Terrier may suddenly seem congested. 

Heart Failure

A significantly more serious cause of congested sounds in Boston Terriers is congestive heart failure. When the heart is unable to pump blood properly, fluids can eventually start leaking into the dog’s lungs – causing an aggressive and hacking cough. 

If your Boston Terrier is coughing – don’t panic and automatically think it is going through heart failure, as this is usually not the cause in most cases. 

That said, it can be, and a veterinarian will have to perform a few tests (including x-rays and echocardiograms) to determine whether your best fur friend is experiencing coughing caused by heart problems.

How Can You Help A Congested Boston Terrier?

It is only natural to want to do anything you can to make your congested pup feel better! First, make sure you visit a vet to get the congestion properly diagnosed, and once you know that it isn’t anything serious – follow your veterinarian’s orders along with these tips for how to help a congested Boston Terrier:


Congestion can cause difficulty breathing, which means your Boston Terrier is likely to tire out faster than normal. Avoid any lengthy physical activities, and keep games like fetch and tug to a minimum while your dog recovers.

It is also best to keep walks short during these few days and perhaps take shorter walks if your dog is impatient to get outside, rather than long and physically challenging walks. Dogs are not completely unlike us humans, and they do need their rest in order to heal.

Boston Terriers are often a little obsessed with their owners and desperate to please and to keep up with their humans, so your pooch might not always show you if he is tired, which is why it is best to control the amount of exercise your pup gets until fully recovered.


Keeping a humidifier in the room where your Boston Terrier usually sleeps can help open up their airways and make breathing easier and more comfortable. There are even special humidifiers made for dogs that you can use!

You can also let your dog stay with you in the bathroom while you take a hot shower if you don’t have a humidifier, as the steam will have a similar effect. Just make sure you don’t keep your Boston Terrier in there for too long as to can get a little hot.

Humidifiers are also beneficial for humans, and especially those with allergies and breathing issues, and you might be doing both yourself and your dog a favor by getting one!


A congested Boston Terrier needs to drink, and it is recommended that you keep a close eye on your dog’s drinking habits during recovery. Drinking water prevents dehydration and helps keep the throat also lubricated during episodes of coughing and hacking.

If you are noticing your dog not drinking enough, you can try offering some low-sodium bone broth as a compliment. Reluctance to drink should be brought up with your veterinarian and especially if it persists for more than a day.

Aroma Therapy

Not all aromatherapy is good for dogs, but some are, and your veterinarian can help guide you to the aromatherapy that can safely be used in a house with pets. It is best to use diluted aromatherapy around animals, and eucalyptus is one popular option among pet owners.

Remember, some scents are harmful and even toxic to dogs, so if this is a road you wish to go down and explore – do proper research before introducing your Boston Terrier to aromatherapy.

What Can Make Congestion Worse?

The last thing you want to do is accidentally make your Boston Terrier’s congestion worse. Avoid using heavily scented body lotions and perfume when around your pet to prevent further irritation to your dog’s airways. The same applies to air fresheners and similar inside the home.

Your Boston Terrier may be perfectly fine with these things normally, but while congested, their airways are likely more sensitive than what you may be used to, and regulating their environment to be as gentle as possible on their lungs is the best thing you can do for your dog.

Strong and consistent airflows are something you also want to look out for. Make sure to keep your Boston Terrier in a place without a draft, if possible.

When Should You Be Worried About A Congested Boston Terrier?

Due to the Boston Terrier’s head shape and overall physique, congestion is something you always want to keep a close eye on. If possible, have your Boston Terrier evaluated by a veterinarian early on (and especially if symptoms last for more than a day).

A dog that appears to have trouble breathing, is coughing up blood, acts lethargic, refuses to eat, or starts acting strangely should always be seen by a veterinarian right away.

Want To Train Your Boston Terrier With Peace Of Mind?

If you haven’t trained your Boston Terrier properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your Boston Terrier completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)


All dogs can get congested, where they may present symptoms like coughing and sneezing, and the Boston Terrier is no exception. These flat-faced dogs can sometimes be a little extra uncomfortable during these episodes due to their short snouts, and it is crucial to get a proper diagnosis for your pup’s congestion.

Start by calling your vet for guidance, and once you have ruled out any serious medical condition, make sure your Boston Terrier gets to rest, fluids, and anything he (or she) needs to recover quickly! Congestion in dogs often sounds worse than it is, but your pup might still need a little extra pampering for a few days.