Why Is My Dog Gagging And Not Throwing Up (And How To Handle It)

When a human typically gags multiple times it’s followed shortly by throwing up. This, however, isn’t always the case with dogs. 

If your dog is gagging repeatedly but not throwing up, it’s only human nature to be concerned.

However, it’s important not to jump straight to conclusions and assume the worst – it’s a lot more common than you think.

This guide will take an in-depth look at gagging in dogs, including the main causes of the behavior, as well as some of the most effective methods of handling it. 

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What Causes The Gagging Reflex In Dogs? 

There are several reasons why your dog may be gagging. Listed below are eight of the most common. 

After Coughing

If your dog coughs up saliva or mucus after coughing, this isn’t too much cause for concern. Most of the time when your dog gags but produces a little bit of mucus, the problem soon goes away by itself. 

However, if they also haven’t passed any stool for more than 3-4 days, the coughing becomes a concern. Irregular bowel movement is often an indicator that your dog is dehydrated and requires stool softeners.

It’s a good idea to consult your vet if your dog is relatively old and has been coughing for longer than two weeks. 

Blockage In The Throat

All dogs are known to eat or chew unfamiliar objects due to their natural curiosity to smell and taste anything of interest. They swallow bones, sticks, stones, food wrappers, and plenty of other non-edible things. 

Before your dog starts to gag, they typically demonstrate the following symptoms: pawing at the face, pacing, drooling, barking, and whining.

If you’re sure that your pooch has swallowed something they shouldn’t have, you’ll need to take them for a proper x-ray examination. 

Kennel Cough

This is one of the most common causes of dog gagging, with some of the main symptoms a runny nose, fever, sneezing and low energy.

It’s a viral infection that can cause a variety of health problems if young canines are unvaccinated.

However, as dogs become older, kennel cough only lasts 1-2 weeks on average, and doesn’t require any treatment.  

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Collapsing Trachea

A number of dog breeds such as Pomeranians and Poodles have weak trachea.

This weakness is often hereditary and can result in blockage of the windpipe. If the air in the windpipe or lungs is blocked, your dog will likely experience bouts of coughing and gagging.

Young Age

If your pooch is still relatively young, any kind of gagging is concerning. Their symptoms might not be specific, and examining the cause of the gagging is a difficult task.

If, alongside their gagging, they’re devoid of energy and often refuse to eat or drink, you should visit the vet immediately. 

This behavior change could indicate something serious such as a stomach infection or parasites in the body. It can also lead to life-threatening respiratory problems and mild to severe seizures. 

Bloating

Bloating in dogs can occur in a number of ways. Sometimes it arises when your pooch consumes their food too quickly and a lot of air gets swallowed.

Other times it can occur when the abdomen starts swelling because of Gastric Dilatation.

In addition to gagging and general discomfort, your dog can show symptoms of restlessness, quick breathing, and abdominal pain. 

Grass

It only takes a single blade of grass to cause respiratory issues in dogs. This is because grass produces sharp tails known as foxtails that can poke their way through your pooch’s airways.

Unfortunately, this can cause more than just gagging and coughing. These types of foxtail grass can lead to pyothorax, pneumonia, and lung infections. 

Obesity

This is another leading cause of gagging in dogs. Obese dogs have a tendency to cough and gag a lot because their fat puts a significant amount of pressure on their trachea.

Therefore, make sure that your dog eats a healthy diet and gets adequate exercise. If you overlook your pooch’s weight, it can lead to serious health issues like arthritis and heart failure. 

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What You Can Do To Help 

It’s incredibly difficult to effectively treat dogs at home if you’re not a healthcare professional. The best thing you can do for a gagging pooch is to take them to the vet for examination.

Nevertheless, listed below are five of the necessary things you can do at home to help limit your dog’s suffering. 

Keep Them Warm

Cold temperatures can make your dog prone to more sickness. So, if you feel your pooch is coughing or gagging more over the winter months, it’s important to regulate their temperature to be warmer. 

Limit Their Movement

Try and limit your dog’s normal activities. This is a lot harder to do than it sounds since dogs are naturally active, but physical strain can lead to more gagging.

If possible, it may be a good idea to tie your dog to a harness

Clean Their Kennel Often

Poor levels of hygiene can make your dog susceptible to more sickness. As well as cleaning their kennel regularly, it’s a good idea to keep it dry, as a damp kennel can make your pooch cold and ill. 

Keep Them Away From Other Pets

If your dog isn’t treated quickly, their gag and cough may be contagious. If you keep your pooch at a daycare facility or training facility, it’s probably best to stay away from it for a little while.

Your dog may get infected by other dogs and could also transmit something to others.  

Monitor Bowel Movements

It’s important to check whether your dog’s bowel movements are healthy or not. This way, you’re best prepared to tell the vet everything you know your dog has swallowed. 

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