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Why Is My Dog Gagging? 9 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & What to Do

Adam Mann

By Adam Mann

dog gagging outdoor

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you own a dog long enough, it’s only a matter of time before they vomit, gag, or even choke. But while there are times when there’s nothing you need to do after a minor bout of vomit or gagging, other times, it’s a sign of a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

But why is your dog gagging in the first place, and when do you need to take them to the vet for it? We’ll break down everything you need to know below.


The 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Gagging

If your dog is gagging, there are a few different reasons why they could be doing it, and these reasons range from minor to severe. We’ve highlighted 10 different reasons your dog could be gagging for you here:

1. Eating Too Quickly

This is one of the most minor yet most common reasons a dog gags. The good news is that if this is the reason your dog gags, it should be a one-time thing, and it shouldn’t last very long.

Schnauzer puppy dog eating tasty dry food from bowl
Image Credit: Maximilian100, Shutterstock

2. Inflamed Larynx

A more serious reason your dog could be gagging is because they have an inflamed larynx. When this happens, it can lead to gagging, coughing, or noisy breathing, and it might require surgery to fix. This condition is more common in dogs with compressed faces or if your dog is obese.

3. Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is another extremely severe condition that can affect dogs, especially older dogs. This condition involves a portion of a collapsed larynx, and if it happens, your dog needs immediate help from a surgical veterinarian.

vet checking samoyed dog's eyes
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

4. Respiratory Infection

Sometimes, the reason your dog is gagging is serious but doesn’t require surgical intervention. This is the case with a respiratory infection like kennel cough. It’s typically not a very serious condition, but if your dog is gagging as a result, you need to contact a vet for further treatment options.

5. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is a common condition for dogs, with vomiting and diarrhea as two of the most common symptoms. Like many of the conditions on our list, you usually wouldn’t need to take your dog to the vet for it, but if they’re gagging, it means they need further help, and a vet should be able to help.

veterinarian taking care of an akita inu dog
Image Credit: PintoArt, Shutterstock

6. Sinus Infection

A sinus infection causes excess nasal fluid to build up and drain to the back of the throat, and when your dog is trying to clear their throat, they’re likely going to gag. It’s usually not a severe condition, but if it persists longer than 24 to 48 hours, you’ll need to take them to the vet.

7. Bloat

Bloat is a potentially deadly condition for dogs if you don’t quickly get them medical attention. This condition involves a twisted stomach in dogs, and without quick treatment, it will kill your dog. Other signs of bloat include a swollen stomach, weakness, and attempts to vomit.

pug dog in a veterinary clinic
Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

8. Acid Reflux

Just like humans can suffer from acid reflux, dogs can too! This is an extremely uncomfortable condition for your dog, and it can come from multiple conditions. No matter the cause, you should take your pup to the vet for proper treatment options.

9. Foreign Object

If your dog has a partial blockage in their throat, they could be choking, but it looks like they’re just gagging. Your dog will be unable to stop gagging if this is the case, and they’ll need immediate medical attention. Often, your dog will need a surgical procedure to fix the problem, but otherwise, the condition could be deadly for your pup.

German shepherd puppy is fed and checked out by a veterinarian. choking, inhaling tiny things, or object inhalation
Image Credit: Mihail Guta, Shutterstock

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What to Do if Your Dog Is Gagging

Just because your dog gags once or twice doesn’t mean you need to rush them straight to the vet. However, if your dog doesn’t stop gagging, that’s another story.

But if your dog only goes through a bout or two of gagging, you need to take a look at their overall health before making a decision. If they’re alert, active, and drinking and eating normally, you shouldn’t need to take them to the vet, but you should pay special attention to their health over the next 48 to 72 hours.

If the signs go away over this time, there’s nothing to worry about, but if they continue, then you’ll need to take them to a vet right away.

Finally, if your dog struggles to breathe, appears distressed, or makes louder noises than usual while breathing, you need to take them to a vet immediately.


Final Thoughts

Now that you know a little more about why your pup might be gagging in the first place, all that’s left is for you to figure out if you need to take them to the vet or if they can get over it on their own. You don’t need to rush them to the vet every time they gag once, but if they can’t stop gagging, are having trouble breathing, or are exhibiting other signs alongside gagging, you should take them to the vet right away.

Featured Image Credit: dossyl, Shutterstock

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