Is your dog coughing at night regularly? Does it disturb his sleep pattern? Do you experience your dog is gagging but not throwing up?
Dry heaving or gagging is an emergency or concern in dogs. This type of coughing is a process that occurs in large-breed dogs like Labradors, German Shepherds, or Great Danes. If you notice the gagging worsening, you should contact a vet immediately.
Coughing can also be a reaction to the changes in the dog’s environment. According to animal experts in New York City, “Coughing keeps the respiratory dogs free from harmful substances and excessive secretions.” People tend to cough when they inhale the dust from their surroundings. The same goes for dogs too. Although all dogs tend to cough at some point in their lives, it can be quite scary if we tend to overlook it.
The horrible sound coming from your dog can be nothing serious. But if overlooked, it can lead to grave concerns. There is no predictable cause why dogs gag and cough. Some dogs start to gag when there is a change in their diet or if their daily exercise routine is different. It is good to take the dog to the vet for a visit as early as possible if you notice any difference in his behavior and signs.
My Dog Is Gagging But Not Throwing Up – Is It A Problem?
Dog gagging is the noise that your dog makes just before or after a cough. It might sound like your dog is also trying to vomit and cough at the same time.
The usual time when a dog starts coughing was when it had too much to eat. The contents of the food might have begun to come up from the stomach. This overeating might have resulted in the food coming up into the throat. Overeating tends to make a dog vomit up on the floor.
What Causes Gagging In Dogs
Some of the common reasons why your dog might be gagging are:
- A dog starts gagging when it has to cough. After coughing, if the dog coughs up saliva or mucus, nothing is alarming. Usually, when your dog gags but produce a little bit of mucus, then the problem goes away by itself. If your dog has not passed any stool for more than three to four days, it becomes a concern. This irregularity of bowel movement shows that your dog is dehydrated and needs stool softeners. Sometimes, this can even lead to heart disease and bronchitis. Consult a vet if your dog is quite old and has been coughing for more than two weeks.
- Kennel-cough is also one of the common causes of dog gagging. It is a viral infection that causes health problems if your young dogs are unvaccinated. But, as the dogs grow older, it usually lasts one to two weeks and doesn’t require any treatment.
- If your dog is relatively young, gagging is alarming. Your pup’s gagging symptoms might not be specific, and it will not be easy to examine too. If your puppy is not energetic and refuses to eat and drink, visit your vet at the earliest. This behavior change could indicate a stomach infection, parasites in the body, or something serious. Sometimes, it can lead to respiratory problems and result in mild to severe seizures. Respiratory issues in young dogs are life-threatening.
- A collapsing trachea could be the problem. Many dog breeds such as poodles and Pomeranians have weak trachea. This weakness can be often hereditary and lead to blockage in the windpipe. If the air in the windpipe or lungs is blocked, your dog can have severe coughing and gagging.
- Bilious Vomiting Syndrome (BVS) can make your dog cough too much. Your dog’s stomach contains bile that helps it to digest. If your dog is hungry in the early morning and late nights, the stomach acids start to form, which cannot dissolve the bile. This formation of acids causes stomach discomfort, which makes your dog nauseous.
- Ensure that your dog is being fed adequately and his plate is not empty at night. If your dog is continuously underfed, this will lead to lethargy, drooling, pale gums, and dehydration.
- Dogs suffer from Bloating. Bloating in dogs can be numerous types. In some cases, bloating occurs when your dog eats food too quickly, and a lot of air gets swallowed. In some cases, the abdomen starts swelling because of Gastric Dilatation or GD. The stomach becomes twisted and causes a life-threatening condition for your dog. Your dog can show symptoms of restlessness, rapid breathing, and abdominal pain.
- Motion Sickness or Nausea. If your dog has traveled with you in a car for a long-distance, he might experience motion sickness. If your dog starts to whimper, get diarrhea, or drool, he might be showing signs of nausea.
- Ear infections in dogs can also lead to nausea. Some medicines for other sicknesses have also led to nausea in dogs.
- Blockage in the throat can also lead to gagging. Dogs are known to eat, chew or consume unfamiliar objects due to their curiosity. They swallow bones, food wrappers, rocks, sticks, and non-edible things. Some of the symptoms that your dog shows before they start to gag are pacing, pawing at the face, whining, drooling, or barking a lot. If you are sure that your dog has swallowed something weird, take him for a proper x-ray examination.
- Obesity is a leading cause of gagging in dogs. Obese dogs usually cough a lot because their fat puts a lot of pressure on their trachea. Even a pound of extra fat becomes harmful to health. Ensure that your dog eats healthy and gets adequate exercise. If you overlook your dog’s weight, it can develop health issues like arthritis and heart failure.
- Certain types of grass inhaled can lead to coughing in dogs. A single blade of grass can cause respiratory problems in dogs. Grass produces sharp tails called foxtails that can poke their way through the airways. They can result in more than coughing. These types of foxtail grass can lead to pneumonia, pyothorax, and lung infections.
- Cancer can be one of the causes of gagging. In most unfortunate cases, some dogs show early signs of cancer through gagging. Even though people take good care of their dogs and vaccinate them properly, genetic cancer is unavoidable. Some breeds of dogs like golden retrievers and boxers have a high chance of getting cancer. This kind of cancer is because of some genetic components in their species. It also lies in their underlying traits of an inbred population.
Other causes for gagging in dogs can be inhaling airborne irritants at home like air fresheners, cigarette or kitchen smoke, fireplace ash, or mold. Many dogs are also known to cough because of swallowing rat poison meant to kill dogs.
What Do I Do When My Dog Is Gagging?
It isn’t easy to treat dogs at home if you are not a healthcare professional. The best and only thing you can do for a gagging dog is to bring them to the vet.
Some of the necessary things that you can do for your dog are:
- Limit your dog’s movement. Your dog’s normal activities should be limited. It can be a bit hard to do since dogs are naturally active. Physical strain can lead to more gagging and coughing. If possible, you can tie your dog to a harness and not a leash. Tying your dog can choke him to death.
- Keep your dog away from other pets. If your dog is not treated soon, his gag and cough can be something contagious. If you keep your dog at a dog daycare facility or a dog training facility, stay away from it for some time. Your dog might have got infected by other dogs. If not, your dog might transmit something to the other dogs.
- Keep your dog warm. Cold weather or temperature can make your dog prone to more sickness. If you feel your dog is gagging and coughing more because of the approaching winter, regulate his temperature to be warmer. You can even provide an air humidifier for him.
- Clean your dog’s kennel regularly. Poor hygiene on a dog with an unclean kennel can make your dog susceptible to more sickness. It is also good to keep your dog’s kennel dry. A damp kennel can make your dog cold and ill.
- With-hold food and water to your dog for some time. If your dog gags and coughs for a long time, it is advisable to keep your dog from eating for some time. Moreover, if something is blocking your dog’s air passage, more food and water might obstruct his breathing passage.
After a short time:
- Give your dog some food and water.
- If the dog can hold it down but starts to gag again, do not feed him.
- Until you take your dog to the vet, do not feed him anything solid.
- Encourage your dog to throw-up. It is good to check your dog’s behavior. If your dog has to visit the vet, you can mention all the actions you kept track of your dog too.
- Monitor your dog’s bowel movements. It is good to check whether your dog’s bowel movements are healthy or not. It would be best if you were prepared to tell the vet everything you know your dog has swallowed and whether it was present in the cleaning materials. If the vet suggests going for a fecal examination, you can tell him everything beforehand.
It is advisable to get your dog treated to the vet without any delay. The earlier you take him, the quicker he’ll feel better. If your dog was adopted from a dog shelter, ensure that he gets vaccinated at the earliest. Unvaccinated dogs tend to fall sicker more than vaccinated ones. Even the mortality rate goes up for dogs that are not vaccinated. If you want to have a happy and healthy dog, making healthy choices for him is the best prevention against all kinds of sicknesses. Adequate care and responsibility towards your dog can ensure a long life for him.
A few ways to keep your dog happy are:-
Give your dog all the attention he needs. A responsible dog parent cares for the needs of his dog. There are some cases where a dog can fall sick and even die of broken-heartedness because of lack of attention. It is not acceptable to keep pets of any kind if you cannot take care of them.
Groom your dog every once a week. Regular bathing and feeding your dog, and preparing homemade treats are some of the many positive ways to pamper your dog healthily. You can trim your dog’s nails, brush his teeth and fur. Not only that, regular exercise can lengthen the life span of your dog.
Deworm your dog every few months. If you stay in a warm area, the chance of your dog getting worm diseases is high. Mosquitoes are carriers and may transmit many diseases to your dog. An infestation of worm diseases can result in swollen abdomen and heart failures too.
Massage your dog regularly. Every dog likes getting scratched and massaged. Massages can help reduce pain in your dogs. They help your dog to relax and enjoy the physical communication that you display. Since dogs cannot communicate with words, they use body language like wagging, panting, and jumping to express their excitement.
Invest in a good dog bed. It is not fair to let your dog sleep on the bare floor. It causes discomfort and body pain. Buying the right mattress for your dog can help them enjoy a sound sleep, especially if it’s a senior dog. It can take a few days for your dog to adjust himself to a new bed. So ensure that you keep it near the place where he usually sleeps.
Take your dog for regular check-ups. Take your dog to the local vet for routine check-ups. Even if your dog is not sick, it is always good to prevent sicknesses before they start to cause problems in our dog’s health.
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