My Dog Keeps Gagging, What Is Causing It?

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At least once in your life, you must have heard your dog coughing and without the possibility to swallow properly. This type of reaction does not sound pleasant and may worry you. 

This phenomenon is usually normal and should not worry you. But if it appears for a long time and is chronic, you should visit a veterinarian.

There are differences between coughing, gagging, and vomiting, and it is crucial to make this distinction. Sometimes making a video of this situation might help the veterinarian with the diagnosis.

When dogs cough, this doesn’t bring anything up, except for spraying some mucus or saliva, which is usually swallowed back. The vomiting is pretty evident because food or stomach contents come out of the pet’s mouth.

Dog gagging appears in conjunction with coughing. While the dog is gagging, it might open its mouth wide and create a retching sound. 

Unlike vomiting, no content will come out of the mouth, except for a little bit of mucus.

Gagging is usually normal and should not concern the owner, except for when it’s frequent and unusual. 

You should be concerned if a foreign object is trapped in the airways or when there are diseases like the Kennel cough.

The causes might be upper respiratory illnesses like sinusitis and rhinitis, heart disease, intestinal parasites, and even bloating.

Let’s look into these concerning causes of dog gagging, as they are explained in the following text.

This article is really helpful to know for your dog: The Best Way to Prevent Ticks and Fleas on Dogs

Why Does My Dog Keep Gagging?

There are a few reasons for dog gagging; let’s take a look and discuss them. 

Foreign Object in Throat 

One of the most common causes of dog gagging is the ingestion of something that shouldn’t be eaten. Sticks are infamously hazardous as foreign objects but are the favorite for playing and swallowing in puppies.

Eating sticks and other objects that have sharp edges can cause internal splinters in the dog’s throat, esophagus, and stomach. This will cause gagging and coughing and might lead to bleeding.

Dogs sooner or later realize that they have eaten something that’s making them sick, so they try to speed up the process of vomiting by eating grass.

Upper Respiratory Infections

The following are the most prevalent infections associated with gagging:

  • Sinusitis
  • Rhinitis

Sinusitis is a sinus infection, as the name implies. On the other side, infected nasal passages cause rhinitis. 

Excess mucus and postnasal drip associated with these diseases can quickly obstruct a dog’s airways. So, when your dog gags, it is trying to ease the strain on its congested lungs.

Also, as unusual as it may sound, if your dog has recurring nose or sinus infections, there could be an underlying dental problem.

Because of the terrible combination of bacterial build-up in the mouth and its proximity to the sinuses, a variety of dental disorders ranging from gingivitis to tooth abscesses can all induce sinus infection.

Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease is another prevalent cause of canine gagging. However, this is more common in senior dogs, so consider your dog’s age before panicking.

When you consider age, there are various other signs to check for when establishing the presence of heart disease.

A dog gagging as a result of a failing heart may also exhibit:

  • Cyanotic tongue
  • Shallow/rapid breathing
  • Lethargy

It is also crucial to realize that symptoms in dogs have a lot of diagnostic overlap. Lethargy and difficulty breathing could indicate anything from Cushing’s disease to cardiac concerns. 

While it is perfectly fine to be concerned, the best thing you can do is visit a veterinarian and provide them with a complete history of the gagging and other symptoms.

Tracheal rupture

This issue is more common in tiny dog breeds like Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers. 

A collapsed trachea may be the source of your dog’s continuous gagging. As time passes by, it might require surgical intervention.

This issue might be congenital, or it can develop later in life in your dog. It is critical to thoroughly observe your dog to determine the source of the problem. 

Consult a veterinarian if the gagging becomes chronic. Keep a record of the events that surround your dog’s gagging and any other symptoms they may be experiencing.


Parasites are another typical medical cause of dog gagging. Dogs, as mentioned, will eat everything, which might lead to serious parasitic illnesses.

The roundworm is one of the most typical parasites that dogs consume. Dogs get infected by sniffing or licking infected feces.

Your dog’s intestines start to develop roundworms. But the juvenile worms move away as soon as their larvae hatch. 

This situation is always concerning, especially if the larvae winds up in the lungs of a dog.

The following are some signs of a roundworm infestation:

  • Abrupt anorexia
  • Potbelly tummy
  • Dull coat
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea

You may find mature roundworms in your dog’s feces, so if any of these symptoms develop alongside the gagging, start paying attention closely.

You’ll know if your dog has roundworms in its feces because they look like long spaghetti worms. If what you’re seeing looks like rice, your dog could have tapeworms.

No parasite is beneficial. But the good news is that each dog can be protected with regular deworming.

Keep in mind that some parasites, such as roundworms, can be passed down through families. If a pregnant dog has them, the new litter will also have them.

What Should I Do If My Dog Keeps Gagging?

If your dog is gagging more frequently, or if it is followed by a cough, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, lethargy, clawing at the mouth, fever, or excessive panting/drooling, you should seek professional help. 

To verify that no foreign objects are blocking the dog’s airways or throat, your veterinarian will first clear the mouth, throat, or esophagus. If your dog has sinusitis or rhinitis, antibiotics will be prescribed.

Your vet will perform a fecal exam to confirm the presence of intestinal parasites in your dog and will prescribe the proper wormer. 

Make an appointment with your vet two weeks after administering the deworming medicine to ensure that all of the parasites are gone. 

You will have to pick up the feces to keep the pet from getting the infection again.


Gagging is usually normal and should not concern the owner, except for when it’s frequent and unusual. Concerning reasons include trapped foreign objects and diseases like the Kennel cough.

The causes might be upper respiratory illnesses like sinusitis and rhinitis, heart disease, intestinal parasites, and even bloating. 

Before panicking, remember that there are differences between coughing, gagging, and vomiting, and it is important to make proper distinction. 

Remember that prevention is the best cure. So, you should always take your dog on regular wellness check-ups before you start getting head-aching bills. 

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