When an animal tries to vomit but nothing comes out, this is known as “dry gasping.” As a result, a loud belch or the sound of gasping for breath may be heard. The actual act of a dog gagging does not pose any risk to your pet, but it could mean that an underlying disease is causing it.
But how do you know if your dog’s condition is a minor problem that you can treat with a home remedy, or a sign of something more serious? Let’s take a closer look so you know how to respond and help.
Minor Causes of Retching in Dogs
Developing a hairball in your dog, or just having a slight tickle in the back of the throat, are two minor causes of gagging in dogs. Also, he could be allergic, have a canine cold, or just have eaten too fast. Dogs frequently “hack” or “gag” as a natural reflex that goes back and forth. Older dogs are more prone to dry retching because their ability to produce more mucus causes them to gag from time to time.
Home remedies to help a dog dry out
Some minor causes of gagging in dogs can be controlled at home with some simple home remedies. If your vet agrees, he can try one of these six solutions:
Most of the time, you can control the symptoms of hairballs at home. When your dog ingests hair, the hair does not easily pass through the digestive system and instead accumulates, forming a hairball. If you think your dog may have hairballs, you can help him get rid of them by giving him small amounts of Vaseline, canned pumpkins, and plenty of water.
2. Upset stomach
Ginger can be a helpful home remedy if your dog has dry retching due to an upset stomach. Add some grated raw ginger to your dog’s regular food. The most suitable dog food for this is wet, but grated ginger can also be added to the kibble.
3. Eating too fast
Your dog may be able to eat more slowly if you use a slow feeder to prevent him from becoming overexcited. Dogs can eat more slowly and deliberately with the help of slow feeders. This can improve their digestion and help them avoid overeating, which could cause gagging. It is crucial that your pet chews her food correctly. By eating more slowly, your dog will be less likely to dry out, vomit, or even choke on food.
4. Canine cough
Sometimes referred to as “kennel cough,” canine cough is transmitted by airborne viral or bacterial droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, and dry retching. In most cases, the symptoms come and go on their own. But in puppies or young dogs with weakened immune systems, the infections can develop into lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection. But if the dry cough doesn’t produce anything, I may give you cough suppressants to administer at home.
5. The common cold
The symptoms of the common cold in dogs are remarkably similar to those in humans. Along with lethargy, they may experience a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, a dry cough, and retching. Try placing your dog near a humidifier and make sure he gets plenty of rest if he is panting and panting as a result of a cold.
Another common cause of retching in dogs is allergies, particularly food allergies. Dogs can have food allergies to grains, gluten, and some types of meat. Environmental allergies can also cause gagging, which can lead to swelling of the face, tongue, or throat.
In dogs with allergies, anti-inflammatory medications can decrease excessive coughing. According to PetMD, Benadryl is one of the few over-the-counter medications that veterinarians instruct owners to administer at home to treat their dogs’ mild to moderate allergy symptoms.
Serious Causes of Retching in Dogs
If you notice your dog drying off with difficulty, it may be due to a more serious condition that requires veterinary intervention. Anti-inflammatory medications or oral antibiotics are effective treatments for kennel cough and tonsillitis, which may not require immediate attention. But obstruction by foreign objects, chronic bronchitis, heart conditions, swelling, and tumors are serious causes of dry heaves that need to be treated by a veterinarian urgently.
It’s always a good idea to make an appointment with your vet to find the source of your dog’s dry retching so it can be properly treated. Especially if your dog continues to gag, you should treat this as an emergency and take him to the vet right away. Foreign objects stuck in the throat are a potentially fatal condition that requires urgent medical attention. If your vet confirms that the cause of your dog’s dry retching is minor, such as a common cold, overeating or allergies, these conditions can be reduced at home with some simple remedies.
Sources and further reading
This article is accurate and true to the best knowledge and belief of the author. It is not intended to replace the formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription or advice of a veterinary medical professional. Animals showing signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Luisa Fiolek