So, why does my dog keep coughing and gagging? As anyone who has had a dog may likely attest, human beings and their dogs share several similar physical behaviors – for instance, just as folks cough in order to clear their throat when they are sick, canines will do the same if they are congested or some object is obstructing their airway. Plus, just as a persistent cough from a human might be a sign of a graver health concern (like pneumonia or lung cancer), the exact same logic applies to dogs.
While it might be an obvious statement, human beings have a distinct advantage over their pets – they might communicate when they aren’t feeling well and visit a doctor, whereby dogs depend on their pet parents to pay close attention to their symptoms, which includes different kinds of choking, coughs, gagging, or additional physical ailments which indicate distress. This post from Innovet Pet Products will discuss the many probable causes for dog gagging and coughing, which includes what you should pay attention to, the different kinds of coughs, how you can treat the dog in question, and additional relevant details for dog owners.
Kinds of Dog Coughs: Identifying the Symptoms and Sounds
To better offer your veterinarian as much details as possible, it is vital as a dog owner to pay attention to the noises of a sick pup’s cough – in doing so, it may help the vet’s clinic with a correct diagnosis and subsequent plan of action, if necessary.
Various kinds of dog coughing might involve:
- High-pitched cough which might create a dog gagging sound
- Dry, hacking, or deep cough
- Deep honking cough which might sound like the noise of a goose
- Moist/phlegmy, wet-sounding kind of cough
- Dog’s coughing while sleeping
Each of those distinctive kinds of coughs is a sign of a certain kind of health problem, which ought to be mentioned during the first call to the veterinarian’s clinic to determine whether or not it’s an emergency, as well as if it is a sign of a contagious disease or something more benign.
My Dog Just Started Coughing and Gagging: What’s the Cause?
My dog is gagging, why? There are many causes for dog coughing, which ranges from pretty common culprits to severe ailments.
Here are some of the most typical gagging in dog and coughing causes and the signs to listen and look for:
- Foreign Object Trapped in Throat: Whether he is a senior pooch or puppy, canines are natural explorers – yet occasionally their curiosity gets the best of them. Dogs that are inquisitive might accidentally swallow something they should not have (like a coin or small toy), which causes air passage obstruction. All foreign objects lodged inside a dog’s throat are hazardous, as they prevent proper ventilation and swallowing – and if they make their way into his esophagus, might be possibly life-threatening. Either way, if the dog seems to be having difficulty breathing or choking, immediately bring him to a vet.
In other puppy coughing gagging instances, a foreign object trapped in his throat might just be because of accidental ingestion or inhalation (for instance, a grass seed that entered his breathing pathway). Irrespective of how it found its way there, a foreign object inside a dog’s throat may lead to irritation, coughing, and even potential pneumonia or infection if left neglected.
- Why is my dog gagging? Signs You Should Look For: For pet parents who see a cough that abruptly grows violent or sounds if it is a gagging sound (accompanied by visible attempts to swallow or lip-licking), it might be a sign that a dog either has something trapped inside his throat or is experiencing a sore throat.
- Sore Throat: Like when a human occasionally gets a sore throat, dogs also can suffer this painful sensation. Even though seldom serious, it may be a nuisance for impacted dog – and in some instances, cause canines to make some various coughing noises that might indicate pain. While the causes might range from a secondary infection of the sinus or mouth, a foreign object lodged inside his throat, or in rare instances, tonsillitis, be certain that you pay keen attention to a canine’s cues – he might be attempting to inform that you he isn’t feeling well or is experiencing pain.
- Signs to Be on the Lookout For: Pet owners might observe a gagging cough which sounds high-pitched in their pet, suggesting that he is experiencing some kind of upper airway irritation, a kind of dog bacterial infection, or maybe a partial blockage. Make sure to immediately call a vet to discuss the dog’s symptoms, as well as figure out the next steps, as the vet might want to arrange a checkup that rules out anything severe. For pet parents whose gut is telling them it cannot wait for an appointment, immediately visit the veterinary clinic, or if it is after-hours, an emergency animal clinic.
- Reverse Sneezing: Usually related to smaller-breed pups, as well as flat-faced (brachyephalic) breeds, like pugs, reverse sneezing is a pretty common condition. Even though it isn’t a cough, it might be mistaken for dogs coughing and gagging by the unsuspecting pet parent. This odd phenomenon actually is caused by a spasm of the throat and soft palate in the dog, and gets triggered by different reasons, which ranges from exercise and excitement, a change in temperature, an allergic response to pollen, or even a collar that is just too tight.
While most cases of reverse sneezing do not require treatment, it is smart for pet parents track when these types of episodes take place – this won’t just assist in identifying triggers yet allow dog owners and their dogs to avoid them as much as they can. In the case that the reverse sneezing episodes last longer than normal or seem chronic, it might be wise to reach out to a trusted veterinarian immediately to make sure that something more severe is not brewing.
- Signs to Watch For: For people who aren’t familiar to the noises of a reverse sneeze, it might be worrisome or disconcerting – some people worry that their pet is choking or having an asthma attack. But, most of the time, a reverse sneeze is just that – air is being quickly pulled through the dog’s nose, whereby it’s pushed out in a normal sneeze. Other indications to be on the lookout for: his head extended, a pet’s stance might show his elbows spread far apart, and his eyes seem to be bulging.
- Kennel Cough: If the pet parent sees a dog that has a nagging cough or sudden persistent cough in their otherwise healthy dog, the culprit might be kennel cough. In some instances, the canine might suffer coughing spasms or ‘fits,’ which might grow exacerbated in times of vigorous activity or excitement (like a brisk walk outdoors or rough housing within a game of catch). For canines who’ve recently touched other dogs, the pooch in question might’ve contracted a kennel cough infection.
With symptoms which usually appear from 2 - 14 days after first exposure, this ailment may last from 10 to 20 days and might come back during stressful times. Even though some veterinarians might prescribe antibiotics, most professionals think that healthy pups may heal naturally in the instance of mild infections in around 3 weeks; but, in the instance of elderly dogs, puppies and dogs that have compromised immune systems, time for recovery might take a little longer and require condition/age-appropriate therapy. In severe instances, kennel cough might result in pneumonia; therefore, be certain to seek expert help immediately and talk about the best treatment choices with the family veterinarian. In any case, most professionals suggest quarantining canines affected with kennel cough, as the ailment is very contagious.
- Signs to Be on the Lookout For: Either bacterial or viral in origin, these infections typically elicit dry-sounding, hacking, deep coughs, accompanied by additional symptoms like gagging, snorting, sneezing, and in worst-case situations, vomiting.
- The Flu (Canine Influenza Virus): Canine influenza virus, additionally called dog flu, may impact dogs at any age. Even though most instances are not deadly, it may cause dogs to feel sickly, so it is vital for pet parents to recognize the symptoms and signs in the case of a local outbreak.
Infectious respiratory diseases caused by influenza virus, the known strains discovered in the U.S. are H3N2 and H3N8. Like human flu cases, canine flu also is airborne – respiratory secretions (like mucous and phlegm expelled during sneezing, coughing, and barking) get released into the environment, in which they then are inhaled by a fresh dog host. Plus, dog influenza spreads through shared objects, like dog collars, kennel surfaces, and water bowls, as well as through contact with humans who have had contact with an infected dog. Thereby, quarantining an infected pup is critical, especially in homes that have multiple dogs. Keeping canines away from public places or kennels that recently have reported cases are some of the best methods of protecting dogs from this painful aliment. While there isn’t any cure for canine flu, a veterinarian can suggest methods of keeping pets comfortable during their time with the unpleasant virus.
- Signs to Watch For: In the instance of canine influenza, there are specific tell-tale signs that every dog owner ought to know about. With symptoms ranging from mild to severe, canine flu is not seasonal, unlike human viruses.
So, keep a close eye all year long for signs and symptoms which might involve:
- Dog dry hacking cough gagging (with noises that range from dry to moist)
- Nasal discharge/sneezing
- Watery, runny eyes
- Listless behavior/lethargy
- Difficult or labored breathing
It also should be noted that canine influenza symptoms look like symptoms of kennel cough, therefore, be sure to consult a vet as soon as signs are noticed. It also is vital that you have a dialogue with the veterinarian office to learn the subtle but distinct signs between dog flu and kennel cough, as well as how each illness ought to be handled.
- Pulmonary Problems: In case an owner notices a “moist” cough – one which sounds phlegmy or wet – it might be a sign in the pup’s pulmonary system (lungs) or lower airway, which might mean pneumonia or something equally as serious. These types of noises might be an indication of fluid in the lungs, and unlike other kinds of dog coughs, his breathing will be labored even when he isn’t coughing. Such symptoms warrant instant attention, as dog owners ought to bring their pet to the vet ASAP.
- Signs To Watch For: Dog gagging cough that sounds moist or wet; typically a ‘productive’ cough which produces mucous or phlegm. Might also be accompanied by labored breathing, even if the dog is not coughing.
Did you know that pneumonia usually afflicts dogs that have underdeveloped or weakened immune systems, like geriatric dogs and puppies. There are several causes of canine pneumonia, which includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, canine parasites, or aspiration secondary to inhalation of foreign object after throwing up. This is yet one other reason why dog parents have to be proactive advocates and caregivers when it comes to their pet’s healthcare, especially for dogs that have immune systems that are compromised.
- Tracheal Collapse: In the case of toy breeds, most are at a higher risk of tracheal collapse, a progressive and chronic disease that might be either congenital or acquired. Dogs that have been diagnosed with this ailment typically exhibit signs of respiratory distress, dog gagging during drinking/eating, as well as exercise intolerance, since their airway is physically obstructed, making breathing challenging. Also, obese canines are at a higher risk of developing a collapsed trachea; therefore, a weight management strategy might have to be discussed with the vet if she or he feels it might diminish the issue, as well as ensure his general health. Depending upon the severity of the canine’s condition, tracheal collapse might warrant an operation or some type of medical management.
- Watch For These Signs: One distinctive characteristic of tracheal collapse is a cough which mimics the noise of a goose – it might become more pronounced if the canine is pulling against his dog collar during his walks, and is particularly prevalent in humid, hot weather when he’s interacting in physical activity.
- Less Frequent Canine Coughing Causes: While any type of dog coughing or gagging is cause for concern, there are some less-common causes of dog coughing that a veterinarian might want to rule out.
These might include conditions like:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Heart Disease/Congestive Heart Failure
Your Dog’s Coughing: What You Can Expect at Your Vet
Once a dog parent has brought the impacted dog to the clinic, the vet will have the ability to pinpoint the reason for the cough during the exam. Most likely, if the clinician thinks it is because of a severe condition, she or he might order a urine/blood test for more definitive results, and X-rays, an MRI, CT scan, echocardiogram (ECG) or other kinds of screening methods, depending upon the persistence and severity of type of symptoms/cough displayed. Even though it is natural to be concerned, talking to a vet and asking questions might relieve some fears – because after all, there isn’t any sense in thinking about the ‘worst-case scenario’ until the results present themselves. At the end of a day, a cherished dog will know that his owners are doing everything they can to offer the best care for him, no matter what the result is.
Keep Track of His Health
While it is ultimately the vet’s responsibility to determine the dog’s condition, it’s very useful as a dog owner to offer as much information as possible during a visit to the veterinarian. So, professionals encourage having a journal of a beloved cat or dog’s symptoms and signs – whether in a regular notebook, on a tablet or desktop, or using a smartphone app, keeping track of a dog’s health history helps pet owners recall the details, permitting them to keep accurate records of their dog.
This is helpful for several reasons – in tracking a dog’s general condition all throughout his life, it not just provides critical details that may be shared during a visit to the veterinarian, yet recording information – like responses to treatment, especially if the dog is prescribed a prescription medicine – may be referred to at a later date. This type of proactive pet-parenting may assist in identifying meds or treatments that might not have worked in the past, thereby helping owners and vets identify the best action to take while avoiding possibly harmful side-effects/allergic reactions. One other bonus: keeping an in-depth health log for one’s dog also is valuable for pet owners who usually get anxious or emotional during visits to the vet.
At the end of a day, the best thing you can do if your pet is coughing and dog gagging is to get treatment from a vet. As always with a dog, it is always best to be safe than sorry concerning their overall health.
Sources:Why Is My Dog Gagging?
When Your Dog Can’t Stop Coughing
Kennel Cough in Dogs
Tracheal Collapse in Dogs