There are several things that could make your dog gag very often. Gagging is a symptom that is similar to choking and coughing. While your pet may not actually be choking on an object or a bone, he may be suffering from a condition known as reverse sneezing. When your pet sneezes, he releases air from his nostrils, but if he’s suffering from reverse sneezing he will rapidly take in air through his nose and make loud coughing, hacking or snorting sounds.
Although reverse sneezing is just temporary, pet owners are often alarmed when it happens. If the episodes recur intermittently throughout the week, you should get the pet examined by the vet to rule out underlying health conditions.
Other Causes of Gagging
Apart from reverse sneezing, there are a few other things that could irritate the dog’s esophagus and cause excessive gagging. Dogs that are allergic to certain substances present in the environment may be suffering from an asthma attack. Such pets will have difficulty breathing and may gag or choke due to the lack of sufficient oxygen intake. Besides this, gagging often occurs in older pets that are suffering from cardiovascular problems.
If you find that your aged pet starts gagging particularly at night, you should conduct a prompt vet check as it could be an indicator of heart problems. You should also not rule out the possibility of choking as some pets accidentally ingest foreign objects that are lying on the floor. Others may have gulped their food down too quickly and this could make them gag.
What to Watch For When a Dog Gags
It’s important to make note of any accompanying symptoms that the pet exhibits as this will help the vet come to a conclusion. Watch for signs of any nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, nausea and sneezing and keep the vet informed about the same.
Diagnosis of the Cause of Gagging
If the gagging passes off on its own you needn’t worry. Pets that gag repeatedly need to be checked by the vet. The vet will perform a thorough physical exam and look for any signs of abnormalities in the esophagus and the pet’s respiratory tract. Blood tests and urine analysis will reveal any changes that have taken place in the body.
If necessary, additional diagnostic tests like chest X-rays and ultrasounds will be performed.
Treatment for Dog Gagging and Underlying Conditions
Since gagging is a symptom of a disorder, the main aim of treatment is to cure the underlying disorder that’s causing the gagging. If the dog is suffering from asthma, the vet will prescribe medications and ask you to take certain preventive measures to reduce the occurrence of asthma attacks. It’s beneficial to keep a portable oxygen cylinder at home if your pet suffers from asthma.
Alternatively, if the gagging is associated with cardiac problems, the vet will ask you to change the dog’s lifestyle so that the heart problem is kept in check.
Tips for Pet Owners:
- If the pet develops certain side effects after taking prescription drugs, keep the vet informed about the same.
- Administer all medicines on time and avoid overdosing your dog.
- If the pet starts gagging, speak to him in a reassuring manner and gently stroke his back.
- Conversely, if your pet is choking on something, attempt the Heimlich maneuver only if you have been trained to do so. If not, seek emergency medical care.
Since the Heimlich maneuver can cause bodily damage if it’s performed when the pet isn’t choking, you need to be certain that your dog is choking before you try to help him out.