While gagging is a common reflex on dogs that could be caused by excessive saliva or mucus. If it doesn’t go away as fast as it appeared could mean that something else is going on. It could even be a reason for concern. Some of these worrying reasons could be:
- Foreign objects.
- Respiratory infection.
- Sinusitis or Rhinitis.
- Laryngeal paralysis.
- Intestinal parasite infestation.
- Tracheal collapse.
All of these will require medical attention and care. Some are chronic and can’t be healed, and the dog must remain under permanent treatment.
Reasons for Dog Gagging
If your dog can’t stop gagging it surely means that any underlying affection is going on. It’s worth mentioning that, since all the causes interfere with the respiratory tract, may include wheezing and coughing. The most common causes for chronic gagging are:
Foreign Object in the Throat, Esophagus, or Mouth
Tiny objects like toys and sticks can easily become lodged in the back of your dog’s mouth. These objects can also enter the esophagus and throat.
Kennel cough, which is a type of respiratory infection, is the most common infectious cause of dog gagging. Other more severe infectious diseases can also cause gagging, like pneumonia. Fortunately, there are treatments for these respiratory infections, and vaccines to prevent some.
Sinusitis or Rhinitis
Sinusitis and Rhinitis could be causing gagging in your dog. These are sinus infections, and nasal infections respectively. Typical causes of these include infected teeth or issues with nasal passages. Each condition will need different medical treatment.
In this condition, the larynx will no longer close properly, allowing some food or fluid to access the airway. This can happen particularly often on older Labrador Retrievers.
Intestinal Parasite Infestation
Gagging and coughing can be an indication that your dog is suffering from a roundworm infestation. Intestinal parasites can migrate to the lungs and then infiltrate the capillaries in the lungs. If this is the case, you will see worms in the poop or vomit. To avoid this, deworming would be recommended.
A dog windpipe is composed of cartilage closed by a flexible membrane. When this cartilage is too weak, supportive rings that surround the trachea collapses. Some small breeds like Chihuahuas or Pugs are prone to this affection and gagging just worsens things.
What to Do When a Dog is Gagging
The first step would be recognizing some other symptoms. If your dog is gagging often or compulsively, check if there is some nasal secretion, breathing difficulties, cough, lethargy, or fever.
In the second place, if you have the possibility, take a video of your dog gagging. It is important to know that, if he is coughing, if he coughs before or after gagging, as well as his movements while gagging.
With all the evidence collected, take him to the vet, the earliest since symptoms appeared possible, it could get serious later. Provide all the information you can, there are many reasons for this, and some share symptoms. When better the description, the faster the diagnosis will be.
Not always the diagnosis will be easy to make, sometimes the vet will require blood tests, x-ray, and some other studies first. Be patient and stay alert for any new symptoms that could show up.
Lastly, if you identify that something is stuck on your dog’s mouth or throat, don’t attempt to remove it by yourself. If not done carefully or lacking tools to help with the procedure, may end in you hurting him or him hurting you. Always let the vet do this kind of job.
How to Prevent Gagging
Once your dog has some kind of incident that led to chronic gagging, he will be more prone to suffer it again. Getting rid of small toys or making sure there are no sticks within the dog’s reach is crucial.
If he’s sensitive to sinusitis, rhinitis, or respiratory infections, try avoiding spaces that are heavily frequented by dogs. Having your dog indoors when the weather is cold or during the night will help too. And make sure the vaccination schedule is up to date.
When a dog suffers from tracheal collapse, following the treatment and making vet checks often will keep the situation under control.
Finally, regular checks, deworming, and staying away from little objects will prevent chronic gagging from your dog before it happens!