Why Does My Dog ​​Gag?

Why Does My Dog ​​Gag?

Do you want to know why your dog gags? Well, keep reading, because we are going to tell you about the most common causes that explain why your pet suffers from these annoying attempts to vomit. Retching and nausea are unproductive attempts to vomit or to clear the pharynx of any blockage. It is a behavior that you should not ignore because it can hide some serious problem in the background. At OneHowTo.com, we tell you why your dog gags.

Why Does My Dog ​​Gag?

Gagging differs from coughing in that, in addition to the loud noise it produces, it involves abdominal movement, in an attempt to expel content located somewhere in the digestive system. We must differentiate between gagging and coughing. In this Best Pets Lover article, we are going to comment on the different causes that explain why does my dog gags.

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Retching in dogs

It is common for a dog to gag as a precedent for vomiting, which can tell us if the episode is repeated or if we see other symptoms, that it is suffering from a digestive disorder that we should consult with our veterinarian.

Many times a dog that has vomited on several occasions gags without vomiting when he no longer has any contents to eliminate in his stomach. But, sometimes, these indicate another type of problem. In the following sections, we will explain the most likely causes of why our dog gags.

The presence of foreign bodies

One cause that can explain why a dog gag is that a foreign body has been swallowed and is lodged in the mouth, throat, or esophagus. We are talking about objects such as bone fragments, splinters, thorns, threads, needles, hooks, spikes, balls, other toys, ropes, etc.

If these bodies have cutting or sharp edges, they can complicate the picture by producing perforations. If our dog begins to show hypersalivation, nausea, gags, rubs his mouth with his paws or against objects, keeps it open, regurgitates, or seems nervous, we can think of the presence of a foreign body. If this is found in the mouth, it sometimes gets stuck on the tongue and it is possible to locate it when we lift it. On the off chance that we see it obviously, we can attempt to separate it.

In any other case, it will have to be our veterinarian who does it and anesthesia will likely be needed. We should never pull a thread if it can carry a threaded needle. If the foreign body remains inside our dog for hours, our veterinarian will prescribe the use of antibiotics for the dog to prevent infections.

Objects that reach the esophagus can be detected on an x-ray and removed through an endoscope or abdominal surgery. Finally, you have to know that if the body is installed in the larynx, the dog will present cough, choking, and respiratory problems.

Pharyngitis and chronic bronchitis

Suffering from any of these conditions could also explain why our dog gags. Pharyngitis in dogs is inflammation of the pharynx, as its name suggests, and it can have different causes. It also presents with retching, fever, cough, pain when swallowing, and loss of appetite. If we look at the throat we will see it reddened and we can even see pus. We must take our dog to the vet to identify the cause of the inflammation and administer antibiotics. It may also be necessary to use pain medication.

Bronchitis in dogs, especially when we refer to it as chronic bronchitis, meanwhile, is a disease characterized by the presence of a cough that does not subside over time. It influences more moderately aged canines and comprises an irritation of the bronchi and bronchioles. The bronchi are the tubes into which the trachea divides as it enters the lungs and, in turn, divides into bronchioles.

In this case, the cough that causes this inflammation manifests itself in attacks, generally triggered after exercise or excitement, which end in gagging and even expectoration, which can confuse caregivers who think that their dog is gagging and vomiting white foam or saliva that is expectoration.

Thus, it is common for the caregiver to refer that the dog’s gags and coughs as the main symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Veterinary treatment is required to avoid major and irreversible damage and this will consist of a combination of drugs and a series of measures aimed at preventing coughing spells from being triggered.

How to know if it’s gagging or coughing

Gagging and coughing are very similar, and to help your dog you have to know how to tell them apart. Sometimes the foam expelled by the dog’s mouth is the result of the effort made by the cough, and not vomiting, as has often been thought.

One of the easiest ways to differentiate one from another is through sounds. The cough makes a hoarse, dry sound. Meanwhile, the arcades emit a sound that comes out of the throat and that is more salivary.

It is also important to know how to differentiate retching from regurgitation. Although in both an attempt is made to expel something from the stomach, regurgitation is done without retching and sudden abdominal movements.

What to do if your dog gags

Once we know the causes and how to differentiate them from other discomforts, it’s time to get down to work and help our pets. As we have said, those that are joined by spewing are the most hazardous, so we will zero in on them.

These are the steps to follow:

  • Attempt to figure out why it happens to you. It possibly happens when you have taken care of him something not his food. If you see that it happens to him often, maybe his food has something that makes him feel bad. If it happens to him when he comes from the street, maybe it is because he has eaten something from the ground. In short, pay close attention to your pet.
  • Prevents vomiting. If it happens often, under medical prescription, you could give the dog a preventive medication so that the time between one event and another lengthens.
  • Replenish your fluids. When there is a lot of vomiting, we tend to become dehydrated and your dog is no less. For this reason, you must give him a lot of water and mineral salts that help him replace all the lost liquid.
  • If he vomits more than once on the same day, go to the vet as soon as possible.

If you think that the cause of the arcades is to have swallowed an object, with much more reason you should go to a specialist. Sometimes it is necessary to take actions that you could not do at home.

Be especially attentive, because if what happens to your dog is a dilation-torsion of the stomach-, this could cause death. Don’t assume that gagging doesn’t matter. Everything that happens in our body, and in this case in your pet’s, that is out of the ordinary, is because something is wrong, and you are responsible for helping him discover what.


Due to its frequency, we dedicate a separate section to another disease that can explain why our dog gags: tracheobronchitis, better known as kennel cough, because, as it is highly contagious, it spreads rapidly in groups of dogs, such as the aforementioned kennels, protectors or canine residences.

It is transmitted through the cough and sneezes it produces, but it can also be spread by accessories or clothing. With kennel cough, we can see that our dog has retching and runny nose, in addition to the characteristic cough. This is going to be the main symptom and, as was the case with chronic bronchitis, its strong attacks are the ones that are going to end in retching. By this equivalent instrument, expectoration might show up.

On some occasions, indicating the mildest cases, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy could occur. In the most serious cases, there will be mucopurulent nasal and ocular discharge, sneezing, altered breathing and pneumonia may even occur.

Most dogs, on the other hand, maintain their usual mood and appetite, do not have a fever and the only symptom of the disease is a cough. It requires veterinary treatment although, as always, prevention is best. If our dog is in contact with many others, such as in a busy park, or we are going to leave it in a kennel, it is recommended that we properly follow the canine vaccination schedule. And if the animal is sick, it must be kept isolated.

Stomach torsion/dilation

This is perhaps the most urgent cause, due to the risk of death it poses, which can explain why a dog gags. Early detection can save your life. Stomach torsion/dilation encompasses two processes, which are as follows:

  • Gastric dilatation: In this process, the stomach is distended due to gas and liquid.
  • Gastric twist: In this stage, the expanded stomach turns on its longitudinal pivot, which forestalls its exhausting. The contents of the stomach begin to ferment, thereby increasing distention. The blood circulation in the area is also affected and necrosis of the stomach wall and perforation can occur, which will cause shock and death.

Although this condition can occur in any dog, those of large breeds, due to their anatomical conformation, are more prone to it. A quick intake of food or large amounts of water, as well as vigorous exercise before or after a meal, can cause it.

Symptoms include nervousness, restlessness, hypersalivation, retching, and nausea, as well as abdominal distension. The dog may have pain if we touch its belly and it adopts abnormal postures. We must seek urgent veterinary assistance. An X-ray can give us the information to differentiate whether we are facing dilation or torsion has also occurred. In the last option case, the medical procedure will be fundamental.

Motion sickness

Motion sickness, or motion sickness, is another reason why a dog may gag. This problem is moderately normal and we can see it when we travel with our canine in the vehicle, for instance. We will notice anxiety, apprehension, hypersalivation, sickness, spewing, and in any event, regurgitating.

We must consult with our veterinarian since it can be corrected and, also, administer medication to avoid dizziness. Meanwhile, if we have to take our dog by car, we can collect water and food from it a few hours before starting the trip. Movement affliction is very normal in pups and for the most part, vanishes with age.


If an object obstructs the mouth, throat, or esophagus, retching may occur in an attempt to clear the passageway. It is important to be very careful with this type of event and watch at all times that the dog does not ingest strange things. Otherwise, the edges of objects may cause internal lacerations that are difficult to control.

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These types of cases are high risk and are considered a veterinary emergency. At the slightest suspicion, go to a veterinarian to make sure your pet is okay. The prognosis is reserved and will depend on the type of object causing the obstruction, the level at which it is located, and the difficulty of the symptoms.

Inflammation of the pharynx.

Inflammation of the pharynx -pharyngitis- is caused by an infection that can cause symptoms such as fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, cough, and retching. This is usually the product of the discomfort caused to the dog during the inflammation so that the signs will worsen as the pathological process progresses.

In these cases, it is necessary to stop the infectious process to prevent retching from continuing. However, attention by a veterinarian is mandatory, since the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories that are suitable for the dog is required.

Gastric torsion

Gastric torsion is a very dangerous clinical picture for the dog since if it is not resolved immediately, it could cause death. This condition causes the stomach to turn on its axis and block the upper and lower outlet. Therefore, neither the food nor the gases can get out and a fermentation process begins that swells the stomach like a balloon.

One of the first and most obvious symptoms is retching. This is because the body detects that it needs to free up space in the stomach through vomiting, but it cannot do so because the outlet is blocked. That is why attempts to expel gastric content (gag) are constantly repeated.

Kennel cough

This condition is also known as tracheobronchitis and is characterized by causing strong coughing events. This situation is what induces the gags, since the effort produced by the can when coughing, leads to unsuccessful attempts to vomit. Of course, the pathology is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, lethargy, nasal secretions, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.


As in humans, dogs can also get dizzy due to different daily movements. Consequently, they generate a feeling of nausea that usually ends in several retches or vomiting. This often happens when trying to drive them, so it is important to be careful if they are known to be susceptible to these events.

When the arcades are accompanied by vomiting, they could mean something more serious. Moreover, sometimes it is a sign of some internal damage that we must attend to. However, it is also possible that it is just a reflex action to a strange or too unpleasant smell, so it depends a lot on each case.

Steps to follow:

Step:1  There are several reasons why your dog may gag:

  • You may have a foreign body in the pharynx, usually seeds, bones, hooks, or others, you may also have a parasite, tumors, or polyps.
  • Your pet may have swollen lymph nodes, or he could have aspirated something from his esophagus.
  • The cause of the retching can be an inflammation of the trachea caused by an infection.
  • Another explanation might be a sickness of the throat brought about by the presence of unfamiliar bodies that stall out in that organ.
  • The retching that your dog suffers from can be a consequence of gastric torsion. In this case, your dog should be taken to the vet immediately because his life could be in danger. The abdomen swells and the esophagus closes, making it impossible for your dog to vomit.
  • Your pet may have heart disease and gag after exertion.
  • Another problem that can cause this is the hypertrophy of the soft palate, which causes a stimulus in the pharynx.


If your dog has a foreign body stuck, the retching will be sudden, it will begin to become distressed and sometimes expel bloody saliva. In these situations, animals are not usually unwilling to eat but may try to drink. In the first 24 hours, the signs usually improve, however, the symptoms associated with malformations or congenital tumors usually worsen as the pathology progresses.

Whatever the cause, it is recommended that you go to the vet to find out the cause of the retching and nausea.

If your dog vomits, we recommend you read this other OneHowTo article on what to do if your dog ​​vomits many times.


Normally, the veterinarian inspects your pet’s throat, head, and neck to assess symmetry, the presence of any lump, and, above all, to see if it is painful when palpated. The expert will ensure there are no enlarged lymph hubs. It could be important to completely inspect your canine’s mouth and eliminate any unfamiliar articles that are found. You will also need to look for evidence of tumors or malformations.

For this test, your pet may need to be sedated if it is not easily handled. An X-ray is sometimes helpful in demonstrating the presence of metal objects, but not for debris such as bone, wood, or grain.

Step: 4 

If the cause is not very visible in the neck and head, a chest X-ray or even an endoscopy will be necessary to rule out an esophageal problem. With this type of test, you will also see if there is any gastric torsion that is causing all the discomfort and retching.

When these episodes are associated with coughing, the vet will try to confirm if he has any respiratory or heart disease. With chest radiography and auscultation of the lungs and heart, a definitive diagnosis can be reached.

Other causes of retching in dogs

Finally, we can see that our dog gags if he eats grass or any grass. The reasons why the dog ingests grass are not clear, what is known is that it acts as an irritant in the stomach, thus explaining why the dog gags and vomits. If we see that this behavior occurs frequently, we should consult our veterinarian.

On the other hand, ingesting grass or soil can cause our dog to become infected with nematode eggs, which are one of the most common worms that can be found in dogs. They are like “spaghetti” and can sometimes be found in the vomit or feces of the infected dog. In the smallest puppies, larvae of these parasites end up in the lungs, which can cause coughing spells, nausea, and retching. It will be our veterinarian who will recommend the most appropriate deworming schedule.