Dog Gagging Without Vomiting: 3 Causes And When To See The Vet

If the dog chokes and makes strange noises, dog owners are quickly concerned!

Is that bad? What are the causes of gagging without vomiting?

In this article, we explain why your dog does this occasionally and when you should see a veterinarian.

In a nutshell: When the dog chokes without vomiting

Gagging without vomiting is quite common in dogs. This behavior cannot be described as really harmless, because it can indicate a whole range of serious diseases. If your dog shows this behavior only very rarely, there is usually nothing to worry about.

However, you should check your dog’s throat for debris and reconsider his feeding if you can identify heartburn.

Causes & Symptoms: Why Does My Dog Gag?

Dog gagging is not uncommon. If it’s only an occasional occurrence, it’s not immediately a cause for concern.

However, if your dog often retches without vomiting, this can also indicate various health problems and diseases.

The fact is, whenever something seems strange to you, listen to your gut feeling and call a vet instead!

But now to the possible causes:

1. Foreign body in throat

If your dog retches without vomiting, this may indicate a foreign object that has been swallowed. Especially when small particles have lodged in the esophagus or trachea, your dog tries to get rid of them by retching.

Other symptoms that indicate a swallowed foreign body:

  • Scratching the mouth with the paws
  • Strong salivation
  • lick lips
  • Difficult breathing
  • refuse food
  • Cough
  • panic

You can open his mouth and see if there’s anything stuck in his mouth that you can remove. But be careful with your fingers!

Even if your dog has already swallowed a foreign object completely, this can lead to a gag reflex. The dog tries to regurgitate the foreign body.

If your dog is unable to throw up the foreign body on its own or if the condition persists for a long time, you should definitely contact a veterinarian. Otherwise, there is a risk of life-threatening intestinal obstruction, shortness of breath, and panic!

2. Stomach upset

An upset stomach is relatively common in dogs because their digestive tract is quite sensitive.

This can be caused by eating too quickly, food allergies and intolerances, the consumption of toxic substances, excessive grass eating or a gastrointestinal infection.

In this case, retching without vomiting is often accompanied by a number of other symptoms, such as:

  • Strong salivation
  • loss of appetite
  • lick lips
  • bloating and diarrhea
  • refusal of food
  • Depressive moods
  • exhaustion
  • apathy

Depending on the severity of the symptoms and how long they last, you may want to contact a veterinarian to determine what is causing your dog to choke and make funny noises.

3. Hyperacidity of the stomach

Does your dog often choke at night or in the morning without vomiting? Then this can indicate an over-acidification of the stomach.

If it’s been too long since the last meal of the day, the empty stomach may not get rid of excess stomach acid and attack itself.

In this case, it can help to push back the feeding times a little or give your dog a snack before going to bed as a home remedy.

However, if your dog has problems with heartburn very often, you should consult a veterinarian and, if necessary, a dog nutritionist, because this is very unpleasant for your dog.

When to the vet?

In addition to the causes already mentioned, there are a few other serious reasons that can be behind choking without vomiting, for example:

  • Laryngeal or tracheal cancer
  • tonsillitis
  • laryngeal paralysis
  • tracheal collapse
  • gastric torsion
  • kennel cough
  • bronchitis
  • rhinitis

Attention danger!

Symptoms vary from dog to dog. However, if your dog is exhibiting any of the following symptoms more frequently or consistently, you MUST go to the vet!

  • Runny nose or nosebleeds
  • Blue or pale mucous membranes
  • Depressive moods
  • Irregular breathing
  • Sudden aggressiveness
  • Rapid exhaustion
  • Strong lip licking
  • difficulties swallowing
  • Strong salivation
  • exhaustion
  • wheezing breathing
  • rub snout
  • circulatory collapse
  • loss of appetite
  • hard belly
  • shortness of breath
  • restlessness
  • Cough
  • panic

What can I do if my dog is choking?

If your dog is gagging without vomiting, there can be a variety of reasons. Depending on what symptoms he’s showing, the best way to help him is to contact a veterinarian.

If you’re sure your dog is gagging because of heartburn, giving him something to eat may help. In this case, a quick remedy is to let him lick a cup of yoghurt.

How can choking be prevented?

After you have worked with your veterinarian to find out what is causing your dog to choke without vomiting, you may be able to prevent the uncomfortable urge to throw up.

If the vet diagnoses a food allergy/intolerance, you should of course refrain from feeding this food from now on.

Your dog can also be helped if the stomach acid is too aggressive. For example, by changing the diet or by regularly giving them elm bark. Please discuss this with your vet, too!


If your dog begins to gag without vomiting, this can indicate various causes.

Unfortunately, many of the causes are quite dangerous and can possibly cost your dog’s life. That’s why it’s important that you monitor your dog closely and act immediately if something seems strange to you!

Gagging without vomiting can indicate a foreign object that has been swallowed, as well as an upset stomach, hyperacidity, gastric torsion, bronchitis, tonsillitis, or laryngeal paralysis.

These and other causes are often accompanied by life-threatening symptoms such as shortness of breath, an intestinal obstruction, circulatory collapse, or panic!

You absolutely have to help your dog in this case!

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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