There are many reasons why your dog may be gagging when he barks. Some of those reasons are fairly benign, while others can be more serious.
In this article, we will cover the most common reasons for this behavior so you can find the underlying cause of it and ensure your pup's health and happiness.
Why Do Dogs Gag When They Bark?
As a dog owner, you may have noticed that your pooch gags while barking or growling, as if something is stuck in the throat. This is not uncommon as it happens to many dogs, especially those who are excited or nervous. Vomiting is a common and normal reaction to stress, but what causes this behavior in our pets?
To answer this question, we must first understand how breathing works in humans and dogs. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen; when it contracts and moves down into your chest cavity during inhalation (breathing), the air is drawn into your lungs.
When you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes back up into its original position so that all of the oxygen-rich air can be expelled out of your body through pursed lips and forced exhalations (barking).
Gagging is a reflex that helps dogs to throw up food and water, and it is the same process that happens when we burp or have hiccups. It can be an uncomfortable feeling for them, but gagging is not harmful.
A dog may also gag if he gets too excited while barking at something, such as another dog or person passing by your home.
6 Reasons Why Your Dog Gags When Barking
Gagging while barking is normal for many dogs, but it can also indicate illness. Here are the top six reasons why dogs gag while barking.
1. Dry Throat
Dry throat from howling. Howling is a natural and instinctual behavior for dogs, but it can dry out the throat over time. This can cause a dog to gag when barking or howling, especially if they do this frequently.
Dogs will bark to express excitement, guard their family or as a warning.
However, sometimes a dog's barking can be excessive. Keep in mind some dogs are more prone to barking than others. The best way to address excessive barking is to figure out what type of barking your dog is expressing (e.g. who or what is the focus of the barking?) and tackling the root problem.
2. Foreign Object
Foreign body in the dog’s throat, esophagus, or mouth. Dogs will put anything and everything in their mouth. If your pup gets "something" stuck in his throat— like a bone or toy — it may cause him to gag when he barks as well as cough up small pieces of whatever is lodged in there.
If your dog is gagging frequently and seems to have trouble breathing, he might have an obstruction in his throat. The most common cause of this is a foreign object (like a piece of food or a toy) or something else stuck on the tongue that is blocking airflow.
Clearing the airway and removing the foreign object is the first thing your vet will do. So it's important to rush him to your vet if you speculate a foreign object being the cause of his gagging.
3. Kennel Cough
Kennel cough can cause a dog to gag when they bark too. Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection that's readily passed from dog to dog.
It begins with symptoms like a runny nose and sneezing and progresses into fever and coughing if left untreated; this condition can also lead to gagging during barking because of irritation caused by frequent coughing reflexes while barking.
It's more common in younger dogs than older dogs.
A Kennel cough can clear up in 7-10 days time but it is recommended not to treat a cough at home longer than 3 days without getting it checked out by a veterinarian to rule out more serious causes such as symptoms of a heart disease or a collapsed windpipe.
4. Environmental Factors or Allergies
Environmental factors such as allergies may be causing your dog's gagging while barking behavior as well!
If so, you might notice other symptoms such as red eyes/nose and watery eyes/nose too; contact your vet right away so that together you can determine what has triggered these allergic reactions for them not only to stop affecting themselves but also their loved ones around them!
Your dog may be allergic to a variety of environmental factors, including dust, mites, pollen, and other irritants. There are also specific allergies that can occur in dogs that can cause them to gag while barking.
If your dog is experiencing any type of allergy symptoms, it is best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment plan for your pup's allergies.
Some dogs tend to swallow their own hair when they groom themselves (like cats do), which may lead to gagging or coughing episodes during or after grooming sessions or periods of excessive shedding in springtime or fall (due to seasonal changes).
Additionally, some breeds like Huskies have long coats that can collect dander from their skin over time; this dander could cause irritation if ingested by your pet during playtime outside or while being brushed at home on an infrequent basis — but it will not necessarily manifest as gagging unless there is an underlying health concern such as asthma present in addition.
5. Underlying Medical Complications
Several medical issues can cause gagging in a dog. These include:
- An ear infection
- Reverse Sneezing
- Canine influenza
- Laryngeal paralysis
- Chronic Degenerative Valve Disease
- Mitral Valve Disease
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Sinusitis or rhinitis
- Intestinal parasite infestation
- Tracheal collapse (especially common in smaller breeds such as Chihuahua or Yorkshire Terrier).
- Signs of brachycephalic airway syndrome in dogs. Pugs and French Bulldogs are the most well-recognized brachycephalic breeds of dogs.
This is only a partial list of some of the more serious conditions that can cause gagging in dogs. Your veterinarian may discuss other possibilities based on your dog's specific condition so please contact your veterinarian for a thorough diagnostic workup.
6. Intentional Vomiting
Another reason can be that your dog is trying to induce vomiting. This can be something that your dog does when he is excited, or it can be something that you have trained him to do on command.
Either way, the same process happens in this case as well: the salivary glands are stimulated and produce excess saliva, which gets swallowed and causes nausea.
If your dog has been taught to vomit on command (or if he is just naturally good at inducing vomiting), then he may gag because of the increased production of saliva in his mouth.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Gagging While Barking?
If your dog is gagging while barking, it is usually nothing to worry about UNLESS he does so frequently and for long intervals.
If this is a recurring problem, bring him in so that he can be examined and tested for any health issues that may be causing the condition.
If your pet is gagging for longer than a few minutes, take him to the vet immediately.
According to the American Kennel Club, though many coughs are treatable, all require medical attention.
Dogs can be hard to read and their symptoms are not always obvious. If you have any concerns about what is going on with your pup, do not hesitate to get in touch with an expert for some advice!
In any case, if your dog is showing other symptoms of a deep cough or gagging, such as lethargy and loss of appetite, you should consult your vet immediately. But if it is just the bark that causes him to gag, then we hope this article has helped you understand why this is happening.
It is generally a good idea to do frequent health check-ups. Also, monitoring your dog’s stress levels can be difficult early on, but it is something you should get in the habit of doing. For example, you can try to bond better with your doing times he feels alienated. Stress is a root of many problems, and can often do significant damage which we cannot directly measure.
What do you think? Are there other reasons for dogs gagging while they bark? How did you solve your problem – don’t forget to let us know and share your results. What helped your dog might also help somebody else’s furry friend!