Why Does My Dog Keep Coughing Gagging Like He’s Choking?

  • By: Charlie Anderson
  • Date: November 4, 2021
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Why Does My Dog Keep Coughing Gagging Like He’s Choking?

A dog’s coughing can be very alarming for a pet owner. They may think the dog is choking and try to help him out by patting his back, but this can make things worse. The gagging or coughing could actually be caused by something as simple as allergies, so it’s essential to get your pup checked out by a vet before you start worrying about anything serious.

Why Does My Dog Keep Gagging?

Dogs cough for a variety of reasons, and acting swiftly can save your dog’s life. Call the vet immediately before trying anything else if you see your pet choking or gagging because he has something stuck in his throat or airway.

When it comes to coughing, there are several possible explanations: allergies, an irritant such as a bee sting or plant poisoning, infections like kennel cough caused by bacteria or viruses, heartworm disease is accompanied by shortness of breath. Coughing is often present when dogs have tracheal collapse from weakened cartilage keeping their windpipe open. There may also be other symptoms, including wheezing, breathing difficulty that goes away after coughing runs its course, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss from exhaustion, or from coughing.

A Foreign Object in the Throat, Esophagus, or Mouth

If your dog begins gagging, coughing, and acting strangely after chewing on a toy or food bowl, take note. This may be an indication that he has a foreign object stuck in his throat.

Typical objects include chicken bones, plastic pieces from chew toys, stringy rope-like material such as dental floss, grass seed husk, corn cob even small rocks! Sometimes these items will pass through the digestive tract without incident; other times, they can become lodged in the esophagus or further down into the stomach, possibly leading to serious illness requiring surgery. If you think there’s any chance this could be what’s wrong with your pet, get him checked out immediately by a vet familiar with emergency care procedures if necessary.

Disease-Related Coughing

Kennel cough is a common ailment of dogs that can be transmitted from one dog to another in close quarters, such as boarding kennels, puppy playgroups, and groomers. The same applies to humans who may get it from an infected pet or other sources like hay fever allergies. Kennel cough is caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, which lives in moist, dark areas on surfaces and inside nasal passages and trachea where they form colonies. Dogs with weaker immune systems are most at risk, especially puppies, young adults, senior citizens, pets receiving cortisone treatments animals taking immunosuppressant drugs. When your pup starts coughing, sneezing, gagging, wheezing, loss of appetite, and lethargy, get him to a vet as soon as possible.

Infections in the Trachea and Lungs

Infections in a dog’s respiratory system can manifest as coughing, blood-tinged sputum mucus, trouble breathing, weight loss, lethargy fatigue. Three types of conditions cause a persistent cough:

  • Kennel cough is caused by bacterial or viral agents.
  • Lungworms invade the lungs through ingestion of an infected intermediate host like mosquitoes.
  • Heartworms enter via mosquito bites, too but also travel to other places first.
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Heartworm disease, which affects about one out of every four dogs diagnosed, leads to difficulty breathing if not treated promptly, sometimes cardiac arrest. Since this condition requires long-term medication, prevention is critical for pet owners who live in areas where mosquitos are typical year-round, especially around bodies of standing water.

Heart Disease

Dogs can develop heart disease, which leads to coughing due to the strain on their cardiovascular system. It’s common to be associated with other symptoms, including fatigue, lack of energy and regular activity, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, shortness of breath, especially while resting or exercising unkempt hair coat seizures. Heartworm is a life-threatening condition, but there are medications available that help slows its progress and manage symptoms, so your pet has more time left before needing surgery.

If you see any of these signs, go to the veterinarian, and they will do tests like chest X-rays, EKG blood work, urinalysis, ECG ultrasound echocardiogram. They will also do a physical examination and history taking.

Intestinal parasites

Intestinal parasites such as hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms can also cause coughing in dogs. It’s not always easy to tell what type of parasite is present, especially when your dog has more than one since the symptoms are often similar, but if there’s a chance this could be, take them for tests and treatment immediately.

If you suspect any intestinal infestation, get your pet checked out by a vet who will run stool sample analysis along with other diagnostics like X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, bloodwork ECG radiographs. When early detection and treatment are possible, pets have better chances of full recovery without lasting damage from advanced infections.

Tracheal collapse

Another cause of persistent coughing in dogs is tracheal collapse. When air can’t flow freely through the windpipe due to weak tissue, it causes a “honking” noise and makes breathing difficult. Symptoms include trouble running or jumping, labored breath sounds, chronic gagging, and retching cough, especially with exercise, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, unkempt hair coat, dry skin flaky skin patches over, including the face.

Treatments for this condition vary depending on the severity. Usually, when a dog is sick, people give him medicine and care. This can be hard because he wants to play. Make sure he rests and gets help with his teeth and nails. You can also put up baby gates to keep him in certain rooms or areas of the house.

Your vet will determine whether surgery is needed if the medication does not improve symptoms after a few weeks. The trachea must be widened by cutting through tissue around it and suturing it back together with a strong thread; this procedure has an 80% success rate. Suppose your dog also suffers from heart disease. In that case, surgery can make stress on his system even more dangerous, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll survive. Still, without treatments, it is hard to recover from this disease. If you have a problem with breathing while resting or sleeping, then recovery will be difficult. This could lead to death within two years of diagnosis, most often due to pneumonia weakening the lungs.

What Does It Mean If My Dog Keeps Dry Heaving?

What Does It Mean If My Dog Keeps Dry Heaving?

If your dog is dry heaving and it seems like she can’t stop, you may be wondering what this means and how to help her. Most often, if a dog keeps coughing up hairballs or foaming at the mouth, they’re suffering from tracheal collapse, which we’ve already discussed in further detail above. However, other things could cause similar symptoms. They include kidney disease, heartworm, cancer tumors, organ failure, pancreatitis pneumonia, liver problems, or intestinal parasites. Older dogs sometimes get these problems, and they can make the dog sick.

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If your pet is frequently vomiting, but it doesn’t appear to be due to anything serious, she might have nausea, which can cause dry heaving. Vomiting after eating or drinking may also accompany other symptoms like diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, weight loss, decreased energy, depression, inappetence constipation, especially if the problem started suddenly without any known triggers.

At this point, unless you’ve already ruled out underlying causes for concern yourself, take her to the vet so they can run tests and figure out what’s causing these issues before things get worse or more complicated. However, the good news is that most cases are typically not life-threatening even though treatment will involve getting rid of whatever is irritating their gastrointestinal tract, whether through surgery, medication changes, supplement use dietary diet modifications.

Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

Although it doesn’t happen often, some dogs suffer from bilious vomiting syndrome, a severe condition caused by a blockage or other problem in the bile duct. If you do not get treatment, then you will vomit and have diarrhea. It can be tough to breathe and feel weak. You may also have seizures or go into a coma. If you stay sick, then your chance of death may be higher than usual.

Suppose your dog isn’t eating well-drinking water normally but still seems interested in treats. If your dog is sick, call the vet. If you need to go to the hospital, take your dog and do it quickly. The trial will get worse over time if you do not fix it. It starts with irritation and leads to ulcers, scarring, and eventually liver failure.


GDV is a disease that happens to dogs. It makes the stomach turn over, which can cause a lot of trouble. The dog might have difficulty breathing, vomit, or fall down.

If food goes too quickly to the small intestine, the air gets stuck and becomes like a balloon. That balloon starts rotating until blood flow is cut off and people can’t survive. Surgery is usually necessary for survival, but it needs to happen within six hours before things get worse and the damage moves into other organs.

Tumor obstructing the throat

Another possible reason for persistent dry heaving is due to a tumor obstructing the throat. This can happen in dogs with cancer. Cancer can spread to other parts of the body, but it is more common than not in older dogs. It is most often found on the jaw bone, tongue, muzzle lips, gums, the roof of mouth tissue around eyes and ears, anus rectum genitals breasts, back legs, stomach area chest.

If your dog has swollen glands all over her neck, drools excessively, chokes when she eats, vomits blood, struggles to breathe, or defecates. You should take them in to see a vet immediately so they can remove them before any internal damage occurs, leading to further complications down the road starting with which may lead to ulcers bleeding, and scarring.

Cancer is a severe problem. If it goes untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and make things worse. It could start with a sore or infection that applies until there is no more tissue that isn’t scarred or dead. Dogs get cancer too, but they are less likely to get an infection because they lick their wounds clean, unlike people who usually pick up bacteria from their hands. That’s why you need to take your dog in for testing as soon as you notice something different about them, especially if they’re over seven years old already.

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Foreign body in the throat

A possible cause for persistent dry heaving is a foreign object stuck in the throat. It can make it hard to swallow, breathe, drool excessively, cough, vomit blood and struggle to breathe.

Dogs are naturally inclined to eat anything they find lying around your home, which includes things that might harm them if consumed whole. You should get your dog taken to the doctor right away if it does not act normal. It might have something stuck in its throat preventing it from swallowing, breathing, barking, sneezing, vomiting, gagging, or coughing. This can lead to other complications before eventually leading to death.

Respiratory illnesses

Bacterial and viral infections can also cause a dog to keep coughing, gagging like they’re choking, starting with kennel cough or bronchitis, which is highly contagious in dogs that have been around other sick animals recently.

This condition makes it difficult for dogs to breathe, especially when lying down. If you leave it untreated, the infection will appear and make your sickness worse. If you feel sick, go to the doctor. It will heal on its own if left alone for three weeks or so. If your dog has been sneezing, vomiting, trouble breathing, fever, depression, or weight loss, you should see a vet. You need to do this as soon as possible before it becomes something worse.

Why Does My Dog Keep Choking on Nothing?


Why Does My Dog Keep Choking on Nothing?

If you notice your dog making noises like they are choking or can’t breathe, then there’s a chance that some disease has infected them. Common causes for these symptoms include reverse sneezing, pneumonia, kennel cough, heart disease collapsing trachea, and even foreign objects in the throat. If it seems severe enough, then take them straight to their vet, who will properly diagnose what is wrong with treatment available if needed.

FAQ About Dog Coughing and Gagging

My dog sounds like he has a hairball stuck in his throat.

Dogs coughing and gagging is not normal. If your dog’s behavior seems off or if he has a history of health issues, it may be time to make an appointment with the vet. It could also mean there’s something stuck in his throat that needs removing.

Why does my dog keep gagging but not throwing up?

The most common reason why your pup may be coughing and gagging but not throwing up, however, is because of the vacuum effect in his throat when he tries to vomit with nothing coming out. This can cause an obstruction in his esophagus or another part of his neck, leading to pain and discomfort.

Dog making a noise like something stuck throat

It is important to note that dogs can develop pneumonia if they repeatedly try to vomit and nothing comes out. If the dog has an object stuck in his throat, it needs removing immediately by a professional, or else he may choke on it, leading to death.


If your dog is coughing, gagging, or even choking for no apparent reason, it could be an indication of a more serious issue. Your first step should always be to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible so they can conduct tests and diagnose any problems that may exist. You don’t want to wait too long before seeking help because this behavior could quickly turn deadly if left untreated.

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