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 Lacey vets talk about why your dog is dry heaving 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:
- A tumor partially obstructing your dog's throat
- Upper respiratory infection
- A foreign object lodged in your dog's throat
- Gastric dilation-volvulus (bloat)
Like certain other symptoms, if it only happens once then it may not be a concern although you should still schedule an examination. This examination will allow your vet 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 condition that mainly affects dogs that spend time in social situations. If your dog contracts kennel cough they will experience a runny nose and a loud honking cough. Dry heaving can be one symptom of kennel cough. Since kennel cough is highly contagious, dogs displaying signs of the condition should be isolated from other dogs to limit the spread of the condition. If you are worried that your dog may have contracted kennel cough you should call your vet immediately.
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 which can cause the dog's heart to stop. Signs of bloat include dry heaving, enlarged abdomen, increased salivation, restlessness, and signs of pain if you touch the 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 pooch has something caught in their throat that is causing a partial obstruction it could result in gagging, retching and dry heaving as your dog works to force the object out. Anytime you think that your dog has an object stuck in their throat you should call your nearest emergency vet immediately to have your dog's airway cleared.
Tonsillitis, Sore Throat or Throat Infection
When your dog is experiencing throat infection or illness it can result in difficulties with breathing, swallowing and their gag reflex. If your dog has swollen tonsils it could lead to repeated gagging and dry heaving. Contact your vet if you suspect that your dog has swollen tonsils.
Tumor Causing a Blockage
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. If you spot any type of growth in your dog's throat you should contact your vet 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.