My Dog Ate a Cough Drop

Can Dogs Eat Halls Cough Drops? Safe?

Every once in a while, we’re bound to get ill; we more often end up with a cold or cough. Therefore, you end up doing what most people do – you stock on up on cough drops and Robitussin® among other things. When you’re sick, you don’t always pay as close attention to where everything is, and suddenly, you find out after running to the store (to go buy your favorite soup and grilled cheese items) that when you return home, there are cough drop wrappers everywhere shredded all over the floor, and almost no cough drops in site. Your first reaction is to panic. Can cough drops cause your dog to die from poisoning? What can you do now?

What to Do When Your Dog Eats Cough Drops

Most people have eaten Halls brand cough drops, and so have many dogs. This isn’t the only type of lozenge your dog has probably eaten, and it happens to a lot of people. So, although you may want to freak out, you probably shouldn’t (this could only make matters worse). This does not mean that if your dog eats a cough drop though, that there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Halls® cough drops can contain a wide variety of ingredients and flavorings. Some of these can actually be toxic for dogs. If your dog ended up eating a lot of cough drops, then you need to be concerned. One thing that you must check, is if they are sugar-free. If your cough drops contain Xylitol, this is one of the key ingredients that can actually harm your dog.


Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, and it helps to provide sweetening in cough drops without causing it to have a lot of sugars. The downside, is that it’s extremely dangerous for dogs – too much of this chemical can even cause their liver to fail, and basically poison them much like alcohol would do to a child. If your dog ate one, then you may want to contact your vet. Depending on the size of your pet, and how many cough drops containing Xylitol that they ate, they may actually be okay (if they just ate one cough drop, or a piece of one, and they’re a big dog – they’re probably alright). The downside to this though, is that usually if a dog eats a cough drop, then they probably ate more than one. Xylitol also causes a severe blood sugar decrease in your dogs, and this crash can be extremely dangerous too. If your cough drops contain glucose, corn syrup, and no xylitol, you may be alright. Just keep an eye on them for signs.


Menthol is in a ton of cough drops, as it acts to soothe our throats and helps suppress coughs. However, this can be potentially dangerous for a dog as well. It’s probably not going to do that much damage to an adult dog, but for puppies, it can actually cause a “quick cooling” (as they’re usually advertised) that lowers blood oxygen levels, and makes it harder for newborn puppies (or just weened puppies) to breathe and intake oxygen. Otherwise, menthol isn’t as much of a concern (there are plenty of medicated shampoos for adult dogs that have menthol in them).


This ingredient is often found in throat lozenges that are “maximum strength sore throat relief” drops. They’re meant to help numb our throats so there isn’t as much pain. If your dog gets ahold of this and ingests it, it may more than likely cause their tummies to be upset. However, in higher doses, it can cause a type of anemia in dogs (although it’s rare) caused Methemoglobinemia. Look to make sure your dog is not vomiting non-stop, or suffering from swelling of the face and jaw. It also poses a threat because since it will numb their tongues and throats, it can pose as a choking hazard to dogs that are commonly susceptible to choking more often.

Choking Hazard

Aside from the risks of chemicals found in cough drops, they’re also considered an extremely high risk for choking anyway. Your dog may just swallow a cough drop whole if they can’t chew it – which may lead to them choking on it. This has been known to happen with many small things, and often times, smaller dogs have the tendency to choke on things like cough drops.


One of the other dangers out there for your pet, is that the cough drops can end up causing obstruction in the intestines. While your pet is probably going to digest the cough drop itself, a lot of times, the wrappers (such as those in plastic wrappers) won’t be digested. If your dog eats enough of them, this can cause intestinal blockage, and your dog may need surgery if this happens – they won’t be able to use the bathroom, and can even end up having fatal blockage if not immediately taken care of.

So, What Should I Do?

If your dog eats cough drops, the first thing you need to do is take some notes so when you speak to the vet, you know what to tell them.

  1. Find out how many cough drops they ate. Did you just catch your dog eating one or a couple? Or did they eat the whole bag?
  2. Check to see if the wrappers are gone too. More than likely, your dog may have eaten the wrapper. But with the risk of blockage in their digestive track, you need to double-check.
  3. Check the ingredients. Not every cough drop can cause damage. Make sure that the cough drops don’t contain the ingredients listed above that can cause severe issues.
  4. How Long ago was it? Depending on how long ago you think your dog ate the cough drops, your vet may have to have a different approach if it was a long time since your dog ingested the cough drops.


If your dog eats a cough drop, yes, there may be a reason to be concerned. However, if you notice that your dog is able to pass a stool (and passes a cough dropper wrapper in the process), then it has probably happened long enough ago that it’s safe. Either way though, you need to monitor them closely for behavioral changes like lethargy, and contact a vet as soon as you take all the necessary assessments to report the cough drop ingestion.

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