What Does It Mean When A Dog Keeps Gagging?

Most dog gagging cases we have encountered are usually a result of foreign objects lodged in a pup’s mouth, esophagus, or throat. However, some of them may emanate from some health issues like kennel cough. For this write-up, we are poised to discuss the gag reflex, also called the pharyngeal reflex or laryngeal spasm. In a brief explanation, it means a contraction in the back of a dog’s throat triggered by the presence of a foreign body touching the back of its tongue, roof of its mouth, back of its throat, or the area surrounding the tonsils. This is a good explanation of why a dog keeps gagging, but there is more to it.

Why Is My Dog Gagging?

Gagging can be caused by a plethora of things, notable among them are;

Foreign Object Lodged In The Oesophagus, Throat, Or Mouth

Small objects like sticks and toys can easily lodge in the back of a pup’s throat. These are called foreign bodies, and can also go further down to the esophagus and throat. Dogs must be monitored closely while playing with certain toys and chewing on rocks or sticks should be discouraged. If such occurs, it may lead to gagging, drooling, clawing at their moth, and perhaps vomiting.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a contagious disease. A hacking cough may be observed in your pooch. This type of cough is usually dry and can be accompanied by gagging. The coughing and gagging are likely to get worse through the course of the sickness. For the treatment of kennel cough, call in the vet who will recommend some medication to alleviate both gagging and coughing.

Sinusitis And Rhinitis

While we describe rhinitis as a nasal infection, sinusitis is an infection of the sinus. These infections produce a postnasal drip that will make your pup retch and gag. Both rhinitis and sinusitis can occur as a result of infected teeth and will require the attention of the vet.

Intestinal Parasite Infestation

intestinal parasites are present in all puppies as they were born with it. Thus, de-worming is a necessity. Besides, as they go through the course of life, dogs can easily pick up some intestinal parasites without your knowledge. When a dog keeps gagging and coughing, it may be an indication that your furry friend is ailed by a roundworm infestation. The larvae can easily move to the lungs and from there, penetrate the capillaries of the lungs, and gain access to the air sacs. The chronic stage when a dog keeps gagging would be because those roundworms are already inside the air sacs. At this point, worms may be observed in your pooch’s vomit or poop.

Heart Disease

Gagging may be an indication that your pooch has a heart condition, particularly if it’s senior dogs. Signs that your canine friend has cardiovascular disease include chronic or uncontrollably gagging alongside exercise intolerance, fast breathing, sluggishness, and a bluish tint to the dog’s tongue

Tracheal Collapse

This condition is widespread among smaller breeds like the Chihuahua. You may notice recurring gagging, and over time the collapse will likely worsen and may call for surgical intervention. We have seen cases of tracheal collapse that are congenital, which also means a birth defect; there are still some that are acquired during the course of a dog’s life.

How To Differentiate Between Dog Gagging, Coughing, And Vomiting

dog gagging, A dog keeps gagging

Canine gagging is the word used to describe that certain noise that emanates from an animal before or after a bout of cough. The noise is perceived as if the animal is about to vomit as it coughs.

When you hear a pup cough, nothing substantial comes up but you might just have a spray of saliva or mucus, which the dog usually swallows back immediately. Conversely, when vomiting occurs in dogs, it is usually obvious, as the content of its stomach will end up on the ground.

Gagging and cough go hand in hand for dogs – while gagging, a dog may likely open its mouth wide to emit a retching kind of sound. But distinct from vomiting, what might come up could be some little mucus that the dog may or may not swallow. Expulsion of the content of the stomach does not happen with gagging unlike in vomiting.

A good pet parent should always note the order of the two actions gagging and coughing – does your pooch gag first before coughing or coughs before gagging. You might find it difficult to believe, but it does matter, when they have the right order, the specialist will be in a better position to determine the type of ailment they should be considering.

Should I Be Concerned If My Dog Keeps Gagging?

The same thing happens among humans; we swallow wrong sometimes and go through bouts of gagging and coughing. When your pooch experiences the same thing, you don’t need to be immediately concerned. However, you may need to keep a close watch for the next 48 to 72 hours even if the dog appears to be alert, bright, breathing normally, feeling fine, feeding, and drinking well – this is just to ensure that all is well.

When gagging exceeds 72 hours, it might be an indication of a more serious condition than the normal reaction that comes from swallowing wrong. This should be taken seriously, especially when you observe other symptoms like distress, troubled and noisy breeding, anxiety, or feeling unwell. Recommendations for this situation include an immediate veterinary exam. The specialist will conduct the necessary tests and come up with a diagnosis.

How To Manage The Situation If Your Dog Is Gagging

What is likely to happen at the vet’s clinic will vary depending on the symptoms displayed by your furball, though a complete physical exam must come first.

Sometimes, it might be possible for the vet to come up with a tentative prognosis based on just the examination. However, some extra tests may be needed under certain conditions. Most common among the initial tests that a vet is likely to recommend is blood work which exposes infections in the dog’s system. The situation may also call for radiographs of the pup’s lungs and neck.

In some cases where the vet observes the possibility of laryngeal paralysis (this occurs when an animal swallows foreign objects like a ball, and it’s lodged in its throat), he may recommend sedation in order to get a complete examination of the larynx.

It is good to know that most cases involving canine gagging are somewhat easy to treat. Even the more serious cases like the ones caused by laryngeal paralysis or pneumonia have treatments available. These treatments can reduce gagging significantly or completely cure it.

Also Read: Covid-19: Does the Coronavirus Affect Animals?

How To Prevent Gagging In Dogs

Chronic recurring gagging is not good for our canine friends; thus, we must keep them from such by putting things like bones, small toys, and sticks out of their reach. If lodged in their throats, these objects will give rise to gagging. A regular veterinary exam is necessary for your pet, especially those with a history of an underlying condition like tracheal collapse or heart disease.

Also, fecal exams should be done on a regular basis, and when a dog is found to have intestinal parasites, the appropriate wormer can be administered to kill off such parasites. In situations where a dog needs to be boarded, the Bordetella vaccine should be given to guard against kennel cough.

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