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Gagging dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Golden Retriever Mix
Age: 2-5 years
Last night, my dog was in his crate for bed, when I heard him gag for the first time. I got him out, and he immediately wanted outside to ravenously eat grass. He stayed up all night, wanting to go out and eat grass, and gagged intermittently - like he was trying to throw up. He never did.

He's pretty restless, but the gagging isn't persistent - only every once in awhile. He's eating normally and drinking a little more water than usual. I'm trying to think of anything he could've eaten - and the only thing that comes to mind is that he had a bully stick for the first time 2 days ago. However, the gagging didn't start until last night. He's not lethargic and eating and drinking, so I didn't want to take him to the vet and get charged an expensive amount for this to just be something mild.

He's also gulping intermittently and seems to be breathing a little heavier. Something is bothering him - I just don't know if something could be lodged or if his stomach is bothering him. Is there anything I can do at home to find out more?

He's still eating grass like crazy - which is not typical. He's 3 years old, 75lbs and has been in great health until now. He's had his heartworm medication. When I first rescued him 3 years ago, he had kennel cough from the shelter I got him from. I don't think this is the same thing - he's not coughing persistently - more of a gag, and the grass eating indicates to me that he's either sick to his stomach, or trying to get something unlodged from his throat. Other than that, he's still barking at our neighbors through the fence, and alert - just more restless than usual and not sleeping very well. Any ideas of what this could be? (Sorry for the novel!)

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your question. This is a tough one to answer without being able to examine Max, but I'll give you my thoughts.

By far the most common reason for a dog to sound like there is something stuck in his throat and gag off and on like this is kennel cough which is a virus that is airborne and very contagious.

I have written an article that you can read here about kennel cough. It contains some videos of dogs with coughs that are probably due to kennel cough so you can compare Max's sounds to these dogs.

Some dogs with kennel cough will just have a very mild gag and often it can look like they are vomiting. Some will be even more strongly affected.

It is unlikely that there is anything stuck in his throat as he would be in quite a bit of distress.

I have seen some dogs who can get something called esophagitis which can happen if a sharp edge had scraped the inside of the esophagus. It's conceivably possible that the bully stick could do this. If it is a mild case then he should be better in a day or two. But if things are getting worse or if he doesn't want to eat then he may need medication from his veterinarian.

At this point if he is happy and eating well then I wouldn't be too worried. If he keeps it up for a few days or if at any point he seems to be getting worse then I think a vet visit is a good idea.

Hope things are better soon!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thanks Dr. Marie, I appreciate it. Is there any reason he's eating so much grass? He normally never does this. He's not sleeping at all because he wants outside constantly - I'm worried about not sleeping myself tonight! :) Under any circumstances can I give him hydrogen peroxide to see if he will throw up whatever may be bothering him?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

There are lots of different reasons for dogs to eat grass. It could be that he is a little nauseous. But often we don't know why dogs do it.

I wouldn't recommend the peroxide. While I do use it occasionally to make dogs vomit, it can potentially have side effects. I would only use it in cases where I know a dog has eaten something toxic and I want to get it out fast.

I hope he is feeling better today!

Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.