Why is My Dog Gagging and Coughing?

Your dog is gagging and/or coughing. Did something simply go down the wrong way, or is it something more? Knowing what these symptoms mean can give you peace of mind about your pet and potentially help you avert a more serious medical situation. 

In this blog, we’ll explore various reasons behind these signs and how to identify when a vet’s expertise is needed. At Heart + Paw, we’re committed to guiding you through your pet’s health concerns. If your dog is experiencing these issues, we encourage you to find your nearest Heart + Paw hospital and contact us for more information or an appointment.

dog gagging and coughing

When Should You See a Vet?

Below are some of the most important reasons to see a vet if your dog is gagging and coughing. Knowing the difference between a minor occurrence and a deeper health issue can save your pet a lot of discomfort and stress.

  • Persistent or Intense Symptoms: If your dog’s gagging and coughing are continuous or particularly severe, seek veterinary care. Persistent symptoms can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
  • Behavioral or Appetite Changes: If your dog is acting differently or has lost interest in food, these changes, coupled with gagging and coughing, might indicate a health issue requiring professional attention.
  • Accompanied by Other Symptoms: If the coughing and gagging are accompanied by symptoms like lethargy, difficulty breathing, or a change in barking, it’s time to consult a vet. 

What Typically Causes Gagging and Coughing in Dogs?

There are several reasons why your dog might be experiencing these symptoms:

Respiratory Infections

Similar to human colds, dogs can suffer from respiratory infections. Symptoms include coughing, gagging, nasal discharge, and sometimes fever. These infections can range from mild to serious and may require antibiotics.


Dogs can be allergic to pollen, dust, mold, and even certain foods. Allergic reactions can cause coughing, gagging, sneezing, and itchy skin. Identifying and avoiding the allergen is a key part of successful treatment.

Foreign Objects

Dogs are curious and may swallow objects that can get stuck in their throat, leading to gagging or coughing. This is an emergency that often requires immediate veterinary attention to remove the object.

Heart Disease

In some cases, coughing and gagging can indicate heart disease in dogs. Heart conditions often lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs, causing coughing, especially at night or during rest.

Kennel Cough

This is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It’s characterized by a strong, persistent cough and may be accompanied by gagging. Vaccination usually prevents this disease, but infected dogs often need veterinary care.

Tracheal Collapse

Common in small breeds, this condition occurs when the trachea (windpipe) collapses, leading to a harsh, dry cough that sounds like gagging. This can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes, but severe cases may require surgery.

Preventing Future Episodes

Routine wellness exams can help with the early detection and prevention of conditions that cause coughing and gagging. It’s also important to keep an eye on your dog’s environment and minimize their exposure to potential allergens or harmful objects.

We’re Here to Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy

If your dog exhibits persistent coughing and gagging, or if you notice any accompanying symptoms, it’s best to get in touch with Heart + Paw. Our expert team can examine your pet from head to toe and perform any necessary diagnostics to get to the bottom of their situation. From there, we’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan. 

At Heart + Paw, we understand how vital your dog’s health is to you. We’re committed to providing the care and support they need to enjoy a healthy, happy life. If you have concerns about your dog’s symptoms, we’re just a phone call away and ready to assist. Just find your nearest Heart + Paw and reach out to make an appointment!

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About Us

Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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