Dogs don’t generally cough much, unlike people, so if your dog suddenly starts coughing or gagging, it could be a symptom of something more serious. Smaller breeds and flat-faced breeds like pugs, bulldogs and boxers can often develop breathing difficulties because of their short snout, and some dogs can have food or environmental allergies that can cause snorting, gagging and other respiratory distress.

Let’s look at some of the most common causes of persistent coughing and gagging in dogs.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough causes a sudden persistent cough that can become violent enough to make your dog vomit. Similar to bronchitis in humans, kennel cough can cause your dog to gag, wheeze, snort, and produce deep, hacking coughs, but it usually isn’t as serious as it sounds.

Although kennel cough is contagious, and your dog will have to be isolated to prevent the infection spreading to other dogs, the condition will often clear up by itself. A normal healthy dog may take a couple of weeks to recover, but you might need to keep a careful watch on senior dogs and young pups in case they need veterinary care.


Dogs chew on all sorts of things, and they can sometimes get lodged in their throats. Usually it’s something small such as a grass seed, and you’ll know there’s something wrong because your dog will make gagging sounds, lick their lips and keep trying to swallow.

If your dog can’t cough it up, you’ll need to make a quick trip to your local vet clinic for treatment.

Collapsing Trachea

Small breeds of dog are susceptible to a condition known as tracheal collapse, which can be congenital or acquired. Your dog will often gag while eating or drinking and show an aversion to exercise with respiratory distress. Mild forms can be managed, but more severe cases may need surgery.

Heart Disease

Coughing can be a sign of heart disease in dogs, but there will also be other obvious signs such as breathing difficulties, bluish tongue, lethargy and fatigue, especially when walking or running. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your veterinarian as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.


A cough that sounds wet or phlegmy could indicate fluid build-up in your dog’s lungs, which could be pneumonia. Your dog might also have trouble breathing, be lethargic, and have a fever. Any wet-sounding cough needs immediate vet care so your dog can be started on the appropriate treatment, as pneumonia can be caused by a number of different things.

Veterinarian Rockingham

At Pork Kennedy Vets, your pet’s health and comfort are our top priority, and we’re open every day of the week for help and advice if your dog is coughing or gagging persistently.Call 08 9524 6644 or contact us online for any enquiries or health concerns regarding your pet. Our wellness programs make pet care easier, and with affordable monthly payments, they’re an investment in the health and wellbeing of your beloved pet.

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