Is your dog coughing like vomiting but not expelling any stomach content? This is a symptom of dry heaving. It is common in dogs and usually resolves in a few minutes.
During a dry heaving episode, a dog makes repeated, rapid, and forceful inhalations through the nose, often accompanied by a snorting sound. If the episode is prolonged, your furry friend may feel anxious and shiver all the while.
We understand how it can be a concerning sight for pet parents. That’s why we dug deeper to understand the causes, symptoms, and the appropriate actions you should take to comfort your dog while dry heaving.
Our experts have researched this symptom in different breeds to help you identify the probable condition your dog might have. So, the information presented here is authentic and reliable. As a pet parent, you should go through the write-up to learn the required strategies that ensure the right care for your canine friend when he experiences dry heaving next time.
What is Dog Dry Heaving?
Dog dry heaving, also known as retching or reverse sneezing, happens when a dog attempts to vomit without actually expelling any vomit or phlegm. It is often accompanied by gagging, coughing, and drooling. A typical dry heaving episode appears like your dog is trying to get out something stuck in his throat. While occasional dry heaving may not be a cause for concern, persistent or frequent episodes should be addressed by a veterinarian.
What Causes Dogs to Dry Heave?
The exact cause of dry heaving in dogs is not yet fully understood. But studies show that it responds to irritation or inflammation of the nasal passages, throat, or soft palate.
Some potential triggers for the irritation are allergies, respiratory infections, dust or smoke, excitement or anxiety, pulling on a leash, or pressure on the throat area.
If your dog is dry heaving frequently and for longer durations, you may immediately seek veterinarian care. In this case, the below conditions can be the reason.
1. Nausea and Stomach Upset
One common cause of dry heaving is nausea and stomach upset. Dogs can experience tummy troubles from eating something they shouldn’t or being overly hungry. This can be seen in breeds like Bulldogs, Boxers, and Boston Terriers that are known to have sensitive stomachs.
You can treat nausea at home with vet-approved anti-nausea medication. However, make sure to consult with your veterinarian to understand the safety and effectiveness of the medicine.
Also, if your dog is facing other persistent tummy troubles like vomiting and diarrhea, seek vet care to prevent any serious conditions.
2. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat)
GDV, commonly known as bloat, is a serious condition that can cause dry heaving in dogs. Bloat occurs when the stomach twists and rapidly fills with air. Large and deep-chested breeds like Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Standard Poodles are more prone to this condition.
Along with dry heaving, other symptoms of bloat include sudden swelling of the abdomen, excessive salivation, and whining. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.
If you suspect your dog has bloat, seek veterinary care right away.
3. Eating Too Quickly
When dogs gobble down too fast, it increases the chance of food getting stuck in the throat. The dog may feel choked, resulting in dry heaving.
Brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus, known for their short snouts, are particularly prone to eating too quickly and experiencing dry heaving. This can trigger the body to cough and dry heave in an attempt to remove the irritation.
To prevent this, consider using a slow feeder or food puzzle that slows down your dog’s eating pace.
4. Throat, Mouth, or GI Tract Obstructions
Obstructions in the throat, mouth, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract is one of the leading causes for dry heaving in dogs. Dogs may accidentally swallow foreign objects like toys, rocks, or tissues, causing blockages. This can be more observed in curious breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and Jack Russell Terriers. Signs of obstruction include pawing at the face, coughing, choking, and, of course, dry heaving.
If you suspect your dog has swallowed anything, seek immediate veterinary care. Your vet will visually examine the dog and may perform an X-ray to locate and address the obstruction. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.
5. Cardiovascular or Respiratory Conditions
Dry heaving can also indicate underlying heart or lung conditions like heartworms in dogs. These conditions can irritate the respiratory tract, leading to dry heaving. Breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Boxers, and Yorkshire Terriers may be predisposed to heart conditions.
You can watch for other symptoms, i.e., fatigue, vomiting, and changes in activity level to confirm whether your dog has this condition. However, diagnosing heart or lung conditions can be complex and may require bloodwork and scans.
Since early treatment is crucial, consult your vet as soon as your dog shows any of these symptoms.
Treatment Options for Dry Heaving in Dogs
Dry heaving in dogs is easily treatable. If any external irritation in the throat area is causing it, your dog should stop coughing in a few minutes. But, in case of any underlying serious condition, choose the below treatment options.
1. Veterinary Evaluation
The first step is to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian. A thorough examination of your dog will help identify the underlying cause of the dry heaving. Provide your vet with detailed information about the frequency, duration, and any accompanying symptoms. These details will assist the vet in making an accurate diagnosis and determining the appropriate treatment plan.
2. Medication and Fluid Support
Depending on the actual cause, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to alleviate nausea or treat specific conditions in your dog. Anti-nausea medications can help relieve symptoms and comfort him. Also, intravenous fluids may be administered sometimes to address dehydration or provide support to your furry friend during treatment.
3. Surgical Intervention
If your dog dry heaves because of a serious condition like gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) or an obstruction that cannot be resolved naturally, surgical intervention is necessary. Also, surgery is often considered to treat bloat or remove obstructions from the throat, mouth, or GI tract. In case of these conditions, follow your veterinarian’s guidance regarding surgery options and post-operative care.
How to Prevent Dog Dry Heaving?
When your dog dry heaves, as an instant care treatment you can offer him water, gently rub the throat area, and calm him down. He should stop heaving in a few minutes. If this symptom is frequent, you can take the below preventive measures-
- Slow Feeding: If your dog has fast feeding habits, consider using a slow feeder or food puzzle to prevent dry heaving. These devices make dogs work for their food, slowing down their eating pace and reducing the risk of throat obstruction.
- Supervise Meals and Food Choices: Monitor your dog’s diet closely to ensure they are not ingesting any food that could upset their stomach. Avoid feeding them items like grass, which can irritate the throat and trigger dry heaving. Be mindful of food allergies and intolerances, and consult your vet for guidance on appropriate dietary choices.
- Administer Medication Appropriately: If your dog takes medication that causes nausea or irritation, discuss alternative options with your veterinarian or adjust the dosage. Giving medication with a small amount of food can help reduce the chances of dry heaving.
- Vaccinations and Preventative Care: Keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations, including the one for kennel cough. This will help minimize the associated risk of respiratory infections and dry heaving. Additionally, ensure he receives regular heartworm preventative medications to protect against heart and lung conditions.
- Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s overall health. Routine examinations will identify potential issues before they escalate into more serious conditions. Early intervention and treatment are always better for your furry friend.
Dry heaving in dogs can indicate underlying health issues. With proper treatment and care you can ensure the condition is treated. Remember to consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis if the symptoms persist. With preventive measures, you ensure your furry friend doesn’t experience dry heaving episodes frequently. However, certain breeds may be more predisposed to this symptom and related conditions. It’s always important to consult with a veterinarian for personalized treatment for your dog. That’s all, thanks for reading!
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