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Dog Dry Heaving

Has your dog suddenly started dry heaving? Today, our St. Louis veterinary team explains why your dog may be dry heaving and what you can do about it.

When your dog suddenly and expectedly begins dry heaving it can be a frightening experience. It certainly looks and sounds as if they are going to vomit, but nothing comes out. Our St. Louis vets discuss some of the most common causes of dry heaving in dogs.

Why might my dog be dry heaving?

There could be many reasons for dry heaving in dogs including:

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

Your dog may occasionally dry heave without cause for concern, such as if they have anything stuck in their throat. However, if your dog is dry heaving repeatedly or dry heaving is recurrent it is essential to contact your vet right away to book an examination for your pup so that serious health issues can be ruled out.

What are the possible causes of dry heaving?

There are various reasons why your dog may begin to dry heave and these reasons can vary in severity. Below are just a few of the reasons why your dog may be dry heaving:

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a common and preventable highly contagious upper respiratory illness in dogs that is characterized by a dry, hacking cough and nasal discharge. Dry heaving is one of the common symptoms of kennel cough in dogs. Because of the highly contagious nature of kennel cough, dogs showing signs of the condition should be isolated from other dogs in order to limit the spread of the condition. Call your vet if you think that your dog may have kennel cough. 

Bloat - Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

Bloat is a potentially fatal condition in dogs. 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 which can cause the dog's heart to stop. If your dog shows signs of bloat, urgent veterinary care is required right away! Signs of bloat include dry heaving, enlarged abdomen, increased salivation, restlessness, and signs of pain if you touch their belly.

If you do not seek treatment immediately your dog's heart rate will increase, they will lose strength, and the condition will become fatal in as little as 1 to 2 hours.

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Foreign Object Lodged in Throat

Occasionally your dog may end up getting something stuck in its throat which can result in gagging, retching and dry heaving as your dog works to force the object out. If you think that your pooch could have something stuck in their throat contact your vet right away or head to your nearest emergency vet for urgent care.

Tonsillitis or Sore Throat

Just as with humans, your dog may occasionally suffer from a sore throat which may possibly interfere with their ability to swallow and your dog's natural gag reflex. If your dog has swollen tonsils it could lead to repeated gagging and dry heaving. If you are concerned that your dog's throat or tonsils are swollen please contact your vet immediately.

Blockage Due to Tumor

Any sort of growth that occurs in the back of your dog's throat could cause breathing and swallowing issues and result in gagging or dry heaving. If your dog has a growth in the back of their throat it will need to be surgically removed in order to clear the airway and stop your pup from dry heaving. It's important to contact your vet to have the growth properly diagnosed and treated.

What Should I Do If My Dog Begins To Dry Heave?

If your dog is dry heaving it is always best to err on the side of caution and contact a vet right away. 

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 suddenly begins to dry heave please contact our St. Louis emergency clinic immediately to have your dog diagnosed and treated.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Animal Emergency Clinic is an after-hours emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs from St. Louis and surrounding areas. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

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