Have you ever noticed your dog gagging and making a weird face? It’s almost like they’re trying to throw up, but nothing comes out. There’s no scientific description of the face or sound your dog makes when they gag, but it usually happens after, before, or between coughs (those hacking or honking noises).
If your dog is gagging and nothing is coming up, don’t worry too much – it’s probably just a case of reverse sneezing. Generally, dog gagging is not a serious condition, provided it happens occasionally, and your dog doesn’t seem uncomfortable. However, if your dog is frequently gagging, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition, and you should take them to see a vet.
Today, let’s help you answer why does my dog gag all the time, and take a look at some of the most common causes of gagging in dogs and what you can do about it.
Why Does My Dog Gag All The Time – 7 Common Causes
If your dog is frequently gagging and has other symptoms such as a runny nose, fever, or decreased appetite, it may have an infection. The two most common infections in dogs are:
Sinusitis: This is an infection of the sinuses and can cause your dog to gag, sneeze, and have a runny nose. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the skull that help moisten and filter the air we breathe. When these cavities become inflamed, they can cause a buildup of mucus that leads to pain, pressure, and difficulty breathing.
There are two types of sinusitis that can affect dogs: acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis is a sudden onset of inflammation usually caused by an infection. Chronic sinusitis is a long-term condition often resulting from allergies or other environmental irritants.
Rhinitis: It’s a medical term that refers to inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the inside of the nose. This inflammation can be caused by a variety of things, including allergies, infections, and even certain types of cancer.
Symptoms of rhinitis in dogs will vary depending on the underlying cause but may include sneezing, sniffling, discharge from the nose, gagging, and rubbing or pawing at the face.
Another common type of infection in dogs is Laryngeal Paralysis. This condition affects the larynx muscles (voice box) and makes it difficult for your dog to breathe. The most common symptom of this condition is a loud, harsh honking noise when your dog breathes in. Other symptoms may include panting, exercise intolerance, and difficulty eating or drinking.
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above besides gagging, you should take your dog to see a vet as soon as possible.
One of the most common causes of gagging in dogs is allergies. Allergies can be caused by anything from the environment (pollens, molds, dust, etc.) to certain foods. Many dogs are also allergic to their shampoo, flea collars, or other products that come into contact with their skin.
The symptoms of allergies vary depending on the allergen but may include itching, runny eyes, sneezing, coughing, and gagging. If your dog is allergic to something in its environment, you may also notice them pawing at its face or rubbing its nose on the ground.
Ingesting Foreign Objects
Another common cause of gagging in dogs is ingesting foreign objects. Dogs are curious creatures and often put things in their mouths that they shouldn’t. Things like sticks, stones, toys, and even small pieces of food can get lodged in the back of their throat and cause them to gag.
If you think your dog has swallowed a foreign object, it’s important to take them to the vet’s clinic.
Many a time, you might not notice if your pup has swallowed something it shouldn’t have. So, if foreign object ingestion is a recurrent problem, it would be best to keep a close eye on them when they’re outside or playing with other dogs.
Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can affect dogs of all ages. It’s most commonly seen in dogs boarded in kennels or shelters, hence the name. However, it can also be contracted at dog parks, grooming salons, and other places where dogs gather.
The symptoms of kennel cough include a dry, hacking cough, gagging, runny nose, and fever. In some cases, it can also lead to pneumonia.
Tracheal collapse is a condition where the cartilage rings that support the trachea are either incompletely formed or weakened, resulting in the flattening of the trachea. This condition is more common in small breeds of dogs, especially those with short snouts, like Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, and Shih Tzus.
Symptoms of tracheal collapse include a harsh, dry cough, recurrent gagging, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, the dog may also faint or have a bluish tint to its skin from lack of oxygen.
Such conditions can worsen over time. Hence, it’s best to get your dog checked by a vet immediately if you think it may have tracheal collapse.
Parasites are another common cause of gagging in dogs. Intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms can all cause your dog to gag. These parasites are usually contracted by coming into contact with contaminated soil or eating infected prey.
As you might already know, dogs sniff and eat all sorts of things when they’re out on a walk. If you don’t regularly deworm your dog, it may end up swallowing some nasty parasites.
The symptoms of intestinal parasites include weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and gagging. These parasites can cause serious health problems like anemia and organ damage if left untreated.
Therefore, it’s important to have your dog checked for parasites from time to time and to deworm them as needed.
What’s the relation between heart disease and gagging in dogs, you might ask. Well, heart disease can cause a buildup of fluid in the chest cavity, which in turn puts pressure on the lungs and makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. It can lead to a condition called pulmonary edema, which is characterized by coughing and gagging.
The symptoms of heart disease in dogs are quite similar to tracheal collapse. In both cases, medical intervention is necessary to prevent the condition from worsening.
Other Causes Of Gagging In Dogs
There are some more potential causes of gagging in dogs, including:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Respiratory infections
- Tumors in the throat or esophagus
- Congestive heart failure
Occasional Gagging In Dogs – What Can You Do?
As pet parents, we never want to see our furry friends in discomfort. If your dog is occasionally gagging and doesn’t seem to be in any distress, you can do a few things at home to help them feel better.
- First, make sure they’re drinking plenty of water. A dry throat can often lead to gagging. You can also try giving them ice chips or a frozen treat to help soothe their throat.
- Little things like keeping away small objects they might choke on can also help. If your dog is the type that likes to put everything in its mouth, it might be a good idea to invest in a puzzle toy or another type of toy that will keep them occupied and away from potential choking hazards.
- If your dog is gagging due to allergies, you’ll need to identify the allergen and take steps to avoid it. This may involve switching to a hypoallergenic shampoo, using an air purifier, or changing their diet. If you’re not sure what’s causing your dog’s allergies, a trip to the vet is in order.
- Finally, if your dog is gagging due to kennel cough or another respiratory infection, they’ll need to see a vet for treatment. In the meantime, you can help them feel better by keeping them hydrated and avoiding stressful situations that may exacerbate their cough.
When To Worry About Your Dog’s Gagging
While occasional gagging is usually nothing to worry about, there are some situations where you should seek medical attention for your dog. These include:
- Your dog is frequently gagging or for long periods of time
- They’re also coughing, sneezing, or have a runny nose
- They have a fever or seem lethargic
- Their gagging is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite
- They’re having difficulty breathing
If you’re ever concerned about your dog’s health, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and give your vet a call. They can help you determine whether your dog’s gagging is cause for concern and, if so, provide the necessary treatment.
Gagging is common in dogs and is usually nothing to worry about. However, if your dog is gagging more than often or shows other symptoms (as mentioned above), it’s important to seek medical attention.
Only a vet can determine the exact underlying cause of your dog’s gagging and provide the necessary treatment.
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