Why is My Dog Dry Heaving

by | Dec 4, 2022 | Behavior

Dry heaving could be a sign of a serious issue with your dog that requires emergency care. Some medical conditions that cause it can be life-threatening, especially when immediate care isn’t taken. According to dog experts, taking your dog to a veterinary doctor for a checkup immediately after you notice the problem of dry heaving is essential.

What is Dry Heaving in Dogs?

Dry heaving is a condition where a dog tries to vomit without producing anything. Occasionally, dogs do vomit from time to time for various reasons. However, when it comes to dry heaving, your dog could have a severe underlying problem. When your dog is experiencing dry heaving, you’ll notice that it’s trying to vomit with abdominal effort. In this case, you’ll see muscle contraction in the abdomen towards the dog’s stomach. Research shows this problem is common in most huge, deep-chested dogs, such as German shepherds, Rottweilers, Great Danes, etc. Dry heaving is usually accompanied by coughing, gagging, and drooling. Some people tend to confuse it with reverse sneezing. However, they’re a bit different, although they can happen at the same time.

Reasons for Dry Heaving in Dogs

Dry heaving in dogs occurs because of numerous reasons. Sometimes, dry heaving tends to have mild symptoms that don’t present any risk to your dog. However, whatever the case, it’s always advisable to take your dog to a veterinarian for its safety. Dry heaving can occur due to the following reasons:


This is among the leading causes of dry heaving in dogs. When your dog experiences an upset stomach, especially after eating the wrong thing, there is a high chance of becoming nauseous, resulting in dry heaving. Typically, nausea in dogs can easily be treated with medications. However, dog owners are encouraged to consult with a vet for further directions to ensure dog safety.

Eating Too Fast

Dog experts usually discourage the habit of dogs eating too quickly due to the subsequent effects, including dry heaving. When dogs eat too fast, there is a higher chance that some food particles will stick to their throat. To get rid of these food particles, the dog will cough and dry heave from time to time.

Respiratory or Cardiovascular Conditions

Heart and breathing conditions can easily cause dry heaving in dogs. When your dog has a lung or heart condition, it may experience dry heaving. Such conditions obstruct and irritate the dog’s respiratory system causing heaving. This is usually accompanied by signs like vomiting, fatigue, and activity changes. To diagnose such conditions, numerous scans and bloodwork are required.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus

This is also called bloat and is largely associated with dry heaving in dogs. When your dog gets its stomach filled with air, there is a high chance of experiencing dry heaving. This is usually accompanied by other symptoms like whining, salivation, and abdominal swelling. Any case of gastric dilatation-volvulus in dogs should be taken with utmost urgency since it can be life-threatening.

Kennel Cough

This is also called Bordetella. It’s a serious respiratory condition affecting canines in dogs. Kennel cough causes dry heaving, although it resolves on its own. In most cases, no medication is required for the same reason.

Mouth, Throat, or GI Tract Obstruction

When your dog experiences mouth, throat, or GI tract obstruction, there’s a likelihood of experiencing dry heaving. Any obstruction can be dangerous to your pet and needs urgent care. GI tract obstruction, in particular, is usually accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, severe constipation, and fatigue. You should take your dog to a vet for examination in case of such obstructions.

These are the top causes of dry heaving in dogs. It’s also caused by allergies, tumors, intestinal conditions, and medication side effects.

What to Do When Dry Heaving Happens

When your dog is dry heaving, you should first assess it to determine the severity. You should also find out if there’s anything stuck in the dog’s mouth or throat. Additionally, you should also check whether there are any visible behavioral changes or symptoms like abdominal swelling, difficulty in breathing, and coughing, among others. Depending on what you see, you should take your dog to a vet immediately for a medical checkup and medication. The veterinarian may recommend x-rays to find out whether there are any internal problems or damage to organs.

Steps to Prevent Dry Heaving in Dogs

There are some steps that dog owners can take to prevent dry heaving. First, they can slow down the feeding pace. This can be done by monitoring the diet that the dog takes. You should discourage your dog from taking anything that can irritate the throat. Secondly, you can prevent dog heaving through various medications recommended by veterinarians. These medications should be administered in proper dosage to ensure your dog’s safety. Thirdly, dog owners shouldn’t feed their dogs foods containing high fats or oils because they cause bloating and IBS. Lastly, consider vaccinating your dog against Bordetella (kennel cough) and preventative surgery.

In conclusion, these are the steps to take to prevent dry heaving in dogs in the future. The majority of the time, dry heaving is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, there are instances where it can an indication of a serious condition. It is always best to consult a veterinarian before “blowing it off” to ensure your canine friend is healthy. The cost of treating this condition will vary depending on the severity and underlying condition.