Puppies Coughing & Gagging: 11 Causes And Treatments

Coughing in your dog is just a natural response of the body to remove something which is irritating the airway. 

Usually, the reasons for puppies coughing & gagging are their tight collar or eating, drinking too fast. However, if this repeats persistent and regular, even after reducing, it recurs, that may be an indicator of needing treatment and a visit to your local veterinarian.

A visit to your local veterinarian before your dog has severe problems such as Kennel Cough, distemper, parasites, heart disease, infections, allergies, and throat. Thus, to deal with coughing and gagging of your dog, you have to know the potential causes to have the suitable treatment as below:

Typically, puppies coughing & gagging are caused by 2 main factors: foreign objects and medical problems.

Foreign objects:

Foreign objects mean that usually, there is something stuck in your dog's esophagus or throat, ending up coughing and gagging but without affecting breathing. The things which cause that incidents may be wood slivers, string, bone splinters, bones, and a rubber ball.

Medical problems:

If the cause is not a foreign object, perhaps it indicates a disease that needs your attention more.

#1 Kennel Cough (canine infectious tracheobronchitis):

puppy coughing and gagging

Unlike the usual cases, kennel cough is dry hacking attached to retching and gagging. In particular, your dog's eyes and nasal discharge. 

Moreover, if you don't provide the treatment in a timely manner, there will be a lack of appetite and lethargy. The sound is honking, looking like it's choking on something.

The causes are microorganisms such as mycoplasma spp, canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, and Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease. Thus, if your veterinarian diagnoses this, try to remember the last couple of weeks. Did you dog play or stay with any sick dogs in the same place such as playground, shelter, obedience class, dog park, and groomer? You may need to contact their owners to inform them of your dog's illness.

In the light cases, your dog will feel better within one week or more, if you make sure while treating process, it eats well and doesn't take part in the physical activities which will make the condition worse. 

In the severe cases, the Bordatella virus will invade the body, causing severe coughing, inflammation and other kinds of complications even leading to death.

Kennel cough is severe and dangerous. Don't forget to ask your vet whether or not your dog needs cough suppressants and antibiotics.

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#2 Sore throat (pharyngitis) and tonsillitis:

The primary causes of a sore throat and tonsillitis are your dog continuously and frequently swallows and licks its lips after that puppies coughing & gagging becomes weaker. 

There are other signs such as loss of appetite, pain on swallowing, fever. Furthermore, the back of the throat becomes red.

When it comes to treatment, you need to provide you dog the combination of a soft diet and a broad-spectrum antibiotic, fluid within 10 days. If your dog is suffering pains, your vet may prescribe a painkiller. 

Before arranging an appointment with your veterinarian, it's essential to determine how often your dog coughs and when your dog coughs: sitting, standing, doing exercise or laying down. Also, it's better if you have information about other attached symptoms and what you have tried at home to treat it.

#3 Roundworm infection:

Take a look at this video to know more details about roundworm infection:

Coughing and gagging are also considered as indicators of your dog's roundworm infection. Once roundworm eggs find how to go into the inside of your dog's body, its stomach will be home to roundworm. 

The larvae move to the lungs thanks to the circulatory system. After that through the capillaries, parasites find their own way to go into the air sacs. This process of irritation leads to coughing and gagging.

#4 Tracheal Collapse:

puppy coughing and gagging

If after your dog eats, does exercise or just feels excited, it has a recurrent and episodic honking or gagging cough, the high opportunity is the condition of tracheal collapse. 

Trachea which is a flexible tube made from firm and incomplete rings of cartilage makes itself responsible for transporting air to the lungs and vice versa. 

In the event of the tracheal rings to collapse, the airway will be obstructed, leading to puppies coughing & gagging. Elderly and overweight dogs are the principal objects of this condition because they usually develop a collapsed trachea.

If the condition of collapsing trachea is medium about 70%, it's useful to treat by medical management. However, a more severe disease will need a highly specialized surgery.

#5 Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and other problems about the heart:

puppy coughing and gagging

Compared to what I mentioned above, CHF and other heart problems like heartworm is a more severe problem. 

Its early symptoms include intermittent coughing (attached to gagging, in some cases). If your vet diagnoses this disease, don't make the condition worse by physical exertion or an excitation.

When it comes to Congestive Heart Failure, the coughing symptoms appear in the sleep at night. Other symptoms of heart disease include laborious respiration, too slow or too fast heartbeat, decreased exercise endurance, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and a bluish tinge to its tongue.

You have to consider several features to determine how to treat heart disease properly: the severity level, your dog's age, and health condition cost during the treatment process. 

A board-certified veterinarian cardiologist can provide more information. In light cases, your holistic vet may suggest a treatment of natural modality.

#6 Chronic Bronchitis:

The symptom of Chronic Bronchitis is that the coughing is dry and productive (ending up gagging sometimes) even in some cases, your dog may retch and spit foamy saliva. This can happen up to 2 months. 

The primary causes of Chronic Bronchitis are middle-aged dogs, no matter it is male or female. This disease doesn't influence your dog's daily eating routine and the healthy weight, so you have to pay attention more to other symptoms.

You can make a treatment plan for this disease by cough suppressants, doxycycline, Bronchodilators, and inhalers.

#7 Congenital Abnormalities:

puppy coughing and gagging

If your dog has a congenital abnormality that may be an elongated soft palate. That length excess is an obstruction to your dog's airway because it's straightforward to block something while entering the trachea. 

This is the reason which makes your dog gag, cough even retch. Avoid doing exercise, unless you want the symptoms to become worse.

#8 Pneumonia:

puppy coughing and gagging

When coughing, Pneumonia products the pretty "wet" sounds that means there is fluid excess or phlegm in the lungs. A lung infection causes fungal pneumonia from a pathogen or an organism. 

Apart from coughing, pneumonia also comes with some other symptoms such as hard to breathe, lethargy, fever, appetite and weight loss.

Moreover, keep in mind that this is a more severe and difficult-to-cure problem. To deal with the cause of natural bacterial, I highly recommend antibiotics, immune support or specific supportive therapy. 

If your dog doesn't suit with the anti-fungal pneumonia drugs, it will be more challenging to treat. In general, how to address precisely is based on the kind of fungus infection.

Aspiration pneumonia (inhalation pneumonia) is another form of pneumonia. It appears when your dog breathes in a foreign substance such as food, regurgitated gastric acid, and vomit. 

It's very dangerous to get this disease so you should prevention is the key. If you recognize any unusual signs, bring your dog to the vet or an emergency pet clinic immediately.

#9 Reverse sneezing:

puppy coughing and gagging

This disease is common in brachycephalic breeds or small ones. The sounds of this disease look like a sneeze more than a cough so many owners may be mistaken for choking or coughing.

When there is something such as the sudden change of weather, pollen, too tight collar, doing exercise, or just excitement which stimulates your dog's the soft palate and throat, making a spasm, that may be a symptom of reverse sneezing. 

While the frequent sneeze allows air to be pushed out through your dog's nose, in this case, the air is also pulled through its nose by a quick and noisy way.

When hearing the sounds of the reverse sneeze, you may wonder what it is choking or suffering an asthma attack. When being the reverse sneeze, the posture of the dog is eyes bulging, elbows spreading apart, and head extended or back.

For this case, there is no a specific treatment. However, it's essential to keep track of what is happening which allows you to avoid timely. You need to take it to your vet soon before it becomes a chronic condition and is longer, more regular due to a potential health problem.

#10 Distemper:

puppy coughing and gagging

Usually, an infection and compromised immune system can end up distemper which comes with symptoms of fever, watery eyes, runny nose, change in mood, loss of energy, lack of appetite, and a dry cough, of course. 

In some cases, there is the appearance of clear nasal discharge. This disease is highly contagious, and the cause is the Canine Distemper Virus.

Through airborne and travels in the air, your dog is able to pick up the virus from foxes, coyotes, raccoons or other dogs or it's infected when contacting directly with the contaminated things: feces, bones, and toys.

You should look for the help of the veterinarian since this case can lead to death. Normally, there isn't a specific treatment, but antibiotics and fluid therapy can treat symptoms without killing the virus.

Love your dog:

In ordinary cases, puppies coughing & gagging is just a small problem. However, if you determine that it relates to your dog’s health and is a sign of a disease, it’s critical to make a treatment plan immediately. 

Or you just need to bring your dog to your veterinarian. Your dog will let you know what you have to do. Keeping your dog hydrated may also help.

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(Last Updated On: April 29, 2021)

I'm a self-employed blogger, life-long pet parent, and lover of dogs and somehow manage to have time to pursue another of my passions - writing. I’m the primary contributor and editor of PUPPY FAQS. I love to write about nutrition, health, and care of puppies. In my spare time, I volunteer at my local dog shelter. If you have a question that needs answering, please leave a comment below, and I will do my best to explain it.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Alwyne John - March 28, 2021

Hello… I am very much devastated today. Our puppy suddenly got shaky and I guess she had fever too. Then I heard whizzing sound as she breathe. I watched her last night to almost no sleep just to keep her hydrated. Then, in the morning, she’s gone. She seemed to have suffered asthma or something similar to that kind of illness. she had trouble breathing. I was so confused what caused such. I still have 2 puppies and I fear they might end up the same. As of today, the 2 remaining puppies looked healthy, eat well. I have just buried their mom 2 days ago. 🙁 can you help me?


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