Has your dog’s sudden dry heaving left you speechless or frightened? It can happen out of the blue, looking like they’re about to vomit but don’t throw up. But don’t confuse dry heaving with vomiting, gagging, or reverse sneezing, as these are different cases.
Dry heaving in dogs can happen for several reasons, and such occurrences once in a while are not something to fret about, but if it happens repeatedly, then you should be concerned. At worst, it might also indicate underlying severe health issues. So, it’s best to know the root cause to avoid dangers.
So, let’s look at it in detail.
What Is Dry Heaving in Dogs?
Dry heaving can be differentiated easily from other issues like coughing or gagging. If you notice your dog trying to vomit without anything coming out of its mouth, it may dry heaving. It may also look like your dog is unable to catch its breath.
Vomiting occasionally is considered normal, as it can happen when your dog eats something abnormal, is overexcited, or swallows its food too quickly. Also, seeing your dog dry heave from time to time may not pose a threat, but if it happens repeatedly, you should immediately consult a vet for proper examination to rule out the underlying cause.
Moreover, dry heaving in dogs is quite common among large breeds and deep-chested dogs, such as German Shepherds and Great Danes.
Why Is My Dog Dry Heaving?
Dry heaving in dogs can be caused for several reasons, such as a tumor, respiratory infection, bloating, and others.
Some conditions are more severe than others and require immediate medical attention as they can be life-threatening. So it’s best to take your dog to the vet immediately so that all necessary examinations and X-rays can be done on time.
Causes of Dry Heaving in Dogs
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) Or Bloating
GDV is a life-threatening condition that can be fatal if not treated at the earliest. This happens when the dog’s stomach is bloated with air, and the growing air pressure prevents blood flow from the bowel and rear legs to the heart, causing abnormal breathing. Sometimes, the stomach can flip over, cutting blood flow circulation to major organs that can even stop a dog’s heart from beating.
In such a situation, dogs will try to release the trapped gas causing dry heaving. This condition is equally painful and dangerous and may quickly cause death. Generally, emergency surgery is needed to insert a tube and release the air or untwist the stomach.
If left unsupervised, the intense pressure can cause irreparable damage to the stomach, increase the heart rate, and may cause death in one to two hours. So if your suspect your dog dry heaving because of bloating, take him to the vet immediately.
You may look for signs such as its belly being sensitive to touch, excessive drooling, abdominal swelling, and restlessness.
Bordetella Or Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection characterized by a dry cough and nasal discharge. This condition is one of the most common causes that cause dry heaving. Kennel cough can affect dogs regardless of breed and size and can spread quickly. Luckily, this condition is easily treatable.
But because kennel cough is highly contagious, your vet might recommend isolating the dog away from other pets at home to avoid spreading the infection.
Blockage In The Throat
Dogs having trouble breathing due to foreign objects stuck in their throats is something that happens frequently. As we all know, dogs love chewing toys, and sometimes they can get caught in their throat, blocking the airway. This can cause them to gag or dry heave struggling to breathe while trying to force the object out.
Also, to remove the object, you should consult a professional, as attempting to do so yourself may further push the object down and cause complications.
So, if ever faced with such a situation, take your dog to the nearest vet right away or call your vet immediately.
Sore Throat Or Swollen Tonsils
Like humans, dogs also develop swollen glands causing a sore throat. Such a condition can interfere with swallowing food properly or trigger their gag reflex, potentially causing dry heaving.
But this condition is neither contagious nor life-threatening and can be treated with antibiotics or surgically removed.
Swollen tonsils are common in small breeds, but you shouldn’t take it lightly because it’s treatable, as inflammation can cause breathing issues.
Intestinal Parasites Or Parasitic infections
Although it might be disturbing to think about, parasitic infections can be related to gastrointestinal issues in your furry companion.
Most common parasitic infections include heartworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and roundworms. When a dog is left on its own, we are unaware of what it chews and swallows from the ground, which could be spores or parasite eggs. These parasites can travel through their intestines and lungs, causing dry heaving, weight loss, or diarrhea.
So, if you suspect your dog has parasitic infections, go to your vet before it worsens. The good news is that parasitic infections are easy to treat, and several medications are available.
Another condition that can interfere with your dog’s breathing and cause dry heaving is a tumor. This growth in their throat can interfere with a dog’s breathing pressing against the airway and preventing air from getting through.
Although all tumors are not cancerous, early treatment should be done to ease your dog’s discomfort.
Dry heaving is a severe issue for dogs, and you should act fast to protect your furry friend. Don’t wait until you see dry heaving evidence before taking your dog to the vet. Sometimes, you might not even know what’s causing your dog to dry heave out of the blue.
So, if you suspect any causes causing dry heaving, take your dog to the vet immediately, as it’ll require emergency treatment. If unlucky, sometimes even minor negligence can be fatal, which you might regret.
- Fascetti, A. J., & Delaney, S. J. (2015). Gastrointestinal disorders in dogs and cats. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 56(1), 13-35. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsap.12290
- Boller, M., & Mueller, V. K. (2019). Gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome in dogs. Frontiers in veterinary science, 6, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2019.00180
- Grant, D. C. (2015). Management of acute pancreatitis in dogs and cats. Veterinary clinics of North America: Small animal practice, 45(2), 337-355. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cvsm.2014.10.011
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