The Top 10 Reasons Why Dogs Cough And Gag
Does your dog cough and gag in the middle of the night? Maybe you have noticed that your dog is coughing phlegm and has left you wondering, why does my dog keep coughing and gagging 🤷♀️ ?
If she does, chances are that it might be more serious than you think. And in this post, we explore the most common reasons why your dog coughs and gag at night.
Listen, Just as humans cough, 🤧 it’s also normal for dogs to cough every now and then as it is part of nature even for animals who are also inclined to sniff pretty much everything that comes in their way.🐕
However, if your dog coughs and gags at night very often, it may be a real cause for concern that could lead to serious sickness and treatment may be required.
A persistent cough is a red flag that your dog probably has an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
Symptoms and presenting signs
The following are the symptoms and presenting signs that your dog has a cough:
- Dry, hacking, persistent or barking cough which can be worse on exercise, excitement or in cold air temperatures.
- Coughing up mucous phlegm or fluids, this is known as a productive cough.
- The dog becomes exercise intolerant or reluctance to go for a walk.
- Weight loss.
-Your dog may be lethargic or seem more tired than normal.
The following are some of the more common reasons why your dog coughs and what you should know about them.
1. Foreign object lodged in the throat
If your dog has a cough that grows suddenly violent or sounds more like gagging, especially when accompanied by lip licking or attempts to swallow, it may be a sign that your dog has a sore throat or something stuck in the throat.
If the dog starts coughing when it’s outside, it may have swallowed or inhaled a grass seed or other objects and it has become stuck in the throat.
The dog might try to cough out the thing stuck in the throat and if it fails, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
2. Reverse sneezing
This is a very common condition in small breed dogs and also brachycephalic breeds.
A reverse sneeze is not a cough but the sound can be mistaken for coughing or choking and it is caused by a spasm of the throat and soft palate that is triggered by an irritant, which can include simple excitement, exercise, a collar that’s too tight, pollen or even a sudden change in temperature.
With a regular sneeze, the air is pushed out through the nose but In a reverse sneeze, the air is instead pulled rapidly and noisily in through the nose.
The sound of a reverse sneeze can be upsetting, and many dog parents wonder if their pet is choking or having an asthma attack and some dogs who reverse sneeze also tend to stand with elbows spread apart, head extended or back and eyes bulging.
Reverse sneeze goes away in a couple of days but if it doesn’t then visit your veterinarian for treatment.
3. Kennel cough
Kennel cough is the persistent cough that attacks a healthy dog and is caused by a bacterial infection. The infections tend to produce deep, dry hacking coughs, sneezing, snorting, gagging and in some cases, vomiting.
Kennel cough can also be called coughing “fits” or spasms if the dog becomes excited or while exercising. If your dog has recently been in contact with other dogs, he may have contracted a kennel cough infection.
The symptoms of the cough usually appear from two to 14 days after exposure, last between 10 and 20 days, and can recur during periods of stress.
These infections are mild and resolve without medical intervention. Many veterinarians immediately prescribe antibiotics, but I absolutely do not agree with that approach.
I prefer to let a dog’s body heal itself naturally, as long as he’s otherwise healthy.
For the dog to finally recover from kennel cough it can take up to three weeks in healthy dogs, and twice as long in older pets and those with underlying immunosuppressive conditions. Puppies can also take a bit longer to recover.
Kennel cough can result in pneumonia, if your dog doesn’t start to improve on his own with the support of nontoxic remedies (such as nosodes, slippery elm bark, Echinacea, goldenseal and olive leaf), or if the cough becomes progressively worse, it’s important to make an appointment with your veterinarian to be on the safe side.
When there’s a buildup of fluid in the dog’s lungs, the cough sounds wet and this is a red flag for pneumonia which can have different causes.
The symptoms of pneumonia will also include loss of appetite, weight loss, fever and difficulty in breathing.
If your dog had these symptoms, take it to a veterinarian, it will need antimicrobial drugs, immune support medication, and specific supportive therapies.
5. Collapsing trachea
This condition mostly affects small breed dogs, it is a chronic, progressive disease that can be either congenital or acquired and dogs with the condition also typically show signs of exercise intolerance, respiratory distress and gagging while eating or drinking.
The treatment options for a collapsing trachea include medical management, which works for about 70 percent of dogs with a mild form of the condition.
More serious cases often require highly specialized surgery. Cartilage building supplements are also given to maintain the integrity of tracheal cartilage.
6. Heart disease
If your dog is coughing a lot, it may also be a sign of heart disease and other signs of heart disease include a bluish color to the tongue, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, decreased exercise endurance, a too-fast or too-slow heartbeat and difficulty breathing.
Book an appointment with your veterinarian and if your dog has been diagnosed with a heart condition and coughs mainly while he’s resting, lying down or at night, it could be a sign the disease is progressing, so you’ll need to get treatments for that and the treatments of heart disease in dogs depends on a variety of factors including the severity of the problem, the age, and health of the animal, cost of treatment and other considerations.
7. Inhaling indoor irritants will make your dog cough
airborne irritants lurking in your home can cause your dog to cough, these include dust mites, fireplace ash, dandruff, litter tray dust, second-hand smoke, mold, aerosolized products like household sprays, air fresheners, and even deodorants.
8. Obesity is another reason why dogs cough
A pudgy dog is an added risk of developing a number of health issues like arthritis, and congestive heart failure. Another good reason to put your best friend on a diet is that the extra weight is tied to coughing.
9. Inhaled blade of grass is another reason why dogs cough
A single blade of grass will cause respiratory problems to dogs.
10. Lungworms will cause your dog to cough
Lungworms are parasites that cause infection in the pulmonary artery and right heart ventricle in dogs, they then move out into the airways of a dog’s lungs resulting in coughing and other issues
Natural Remedies to treat dog cough
There are many natural remedies you can use to treat dog cough, with the help of your veterinarian, of course, a lot of milder cases of Cough can be treated at home with herbs and homeopathics, under the guidance of a holistic veterinarian.
A trip to the vet may be necessary for persistent cases lasting more than a couple of weeks, or where the dog becomes weak with a loss of appetite or any other signs of discomfort.
Herbal immune-system enhancers may help your dog as well, they include Vitamin C, Echinacea, Olive Leaf, and Astragalus. Colloidal silver is another excellent supplement for immune system support.
Some of the best remedies to cure your dog’s cough include the following.
1. Use Garlic
Garlic is a great addition to the diet of dogs suffering from Kennel Cough.
How to use
- Peel some garlic cloves and place them in a glass jar.
- Cover with a few good lugs of organic olive oil and leave to infuse for 24 hours.
- Add a few drops to each meal of your dog
2. Organic Unrefined / Virgin Coconut Oil
These possess amazing immune-enhancing properties. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids that are anti-viral and anti-bacterial (as well as many other benefits).
A dosage of about 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut oil per 10 pounds of body weight per day can be divided into your dog’s meals to help combat Kennel Cough.
Half this dosage can be used for maintenance of long term health. Use slightly less if any signs of loose stool occur.
3. Raw honey will do the trick
Raw Honey is a great natural treatment that helps soothe the throat, it has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties.
How to use
- If your dog has A 30 to 50 lbs give it about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey three to four times a day.
- Adjust this amount up or down depending on the size of your dog.
Homeopathic remedies for Kennel Cough include Drosera for a dry, hacking cough and violent coughing spells.
The throat feels ticklish when Drosera is indicated, and pressure to the neck (such as from a collar) can trigger a bout of coughing. The cough may also be worse when lying down.
4. Use Aconite
Aconite is useful in the very early stages, when signs of kennel cough (coughing, hacking as though something is caught in the throat), first appear.
Rumex Crispus is helpful for a cough associated with tickling in the throat, and which tends to be dry and persistent.
5. Use Spongia Tosta
Spongia Tosta is most helpful for croupy, barking coughs which tend to improve with eating and drinking warm things but get worse from cold drinks. Spongia is indicated for a cough that startles the dog from sleep.