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My Dog Keeps Dry Heaving: What Should I Do?

We know that sometimes our dogs can fall ill and begin to show the associated symptoms, but what happens if they aren't your typical concerns? Here, our Blountville vets talk about why your dog has a dry heaving cough and what you can do to help them.

Why is my dog dry heaving?

Anytime your dog is showing extreme signs of illness it can be nerve-wracking. It can be confusing when they look and sound like they need to vomit yet nothing is happening.

Some of the common reasons behind dry heaving in dogs include:

  • Tonsillitis
  • A tumor partially obstructing your dog's throat 
  • Upper respiratory infection 
  • A foreign object lodged in your dog's throat 
  • Gastric dilation-volvulus (bloat)

If it only happens once, it may not be a cause for concern, but you should still schedule an examination. This examination will allow your veterinarian to rule out any serious health concerns.

What exactly causes dry heaving in dogs?

There are many different illnesses and conditions that can result in dry-heaving dogs. These are:

Kennel Cough (Bordetella)

Bordetella is a contagious disease that primarily affects dogs who spend time in social settings. If your dog gets a kennel cough, it will have a runny nose and a loud honking cough. One symptom of kennel cough is dry heaving. Because kennel cough is highly contagious, dogs showing symptoms should be isolated from other dogs to prevent the disease from spreading. If you suspect that your dog has kennel cough, contact your veterinarian right away.

Bloat (Gastric Dilation-Volvulus)

Bloat can be fatal to dogs that do not receive emergency veterinary care right away.

This complex medical condition occurs when the dog's stomach fills with air, increasing pressure and preventing blood from the dog's hind legs and abdomen from returning to the heart. In some cases, the stomach flips, cutting off even more blood flow and causing the pancreas to produce toxic hormones that can cause the dog's heart to stop. Bloat symptoms include dry heaving, an enlarged abdomen, increased salivation, restlessness, and pain when you touch your belly.

Without treatment dogs suffering from bloat will likely go into shock within 1-2 hours, experience increased heart rate, lose strength, and the condition will become fatal. If you see any of the signs of bloat in your dog you should call your vet right away.

Object Lodged in Throat

If your dog has something stuck in their throat that is causing a partial obstruction, they may experience gagging, retching, and dry heaving as they try to force the object out. If you suspect your dog has an object lodged in their throat, contact your nearest emergency veterinarian right away to have their airway cleared.

Tonsillitis, Sore Throat or Throat Infection

When your dog has a throat infection or illness, it can cause breathing, swallowing, and gag reflex problems. If your dog's tonsils are swollen, he or she may experience gagging and dry heaving. If you suspect your dog has swollen tonsils, consult your veterinarian.

Tumor Causing a Blockage

Any growth in the back of your dog's throat can cause breathing and swallowing problems, as well as gagging or dry heaving. If your dog has a growth in the back of their throat, it must be surgically removed to clear the airway and prevent dry heaving. If you notice any type of growth in your dog's throat, contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination.

What should you do if your dog is dry heaving?

No matter the possible cause of the dry heaving, if your dog is suffering from these symptoms you should contact your vet right away. Their life could depend on it.

Kennel cough and tonsilitis may be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or oral antibiotics and may not be considered urgent, however, more serious causes of dry heaving will require veterinary intervention.

Foreign objects can damage the throat or shift and block the dog's ability to breathe, and bloat is always a veterinary emergency.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

If your dog is dry heaving or showing any other concerning symptoms, please contact our vets at Airport Pet Emergency Clinic right away.

New Patients Welcome

Airport Pet Emergency Clinic is open weekday evenings, overnight, weekends and holidays to provide your pet with urgent care when needed. Our experienced Blountville vets are passionate about caring for companion animals.

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