Why Do Dogs Gag When They Bark

Why Do Dogs Gag When They Bark?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

A common cause of dog gagging is kennel cough, a type of respiratory infection that causes a harsh, goose-like cough followed by gagging. Another infectious disease, pneumonia, can also cause dogs to gag, as can other more severe illnesses.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why Do Dogs Gag When They Bark?“.

There are many reasons why dogs gag when they bark. In some cases dogs will make a ‘coughing noise’ to clear their throats after howling. 

Why Do Dogs Gag When They Bark

Plastic bags or bones can cause dogs to gag when they have something foreign in their throats.

When a dog gags frequently it is a good idea to have him checked out by a veterinarian.

In general gagging is not a sign of illness; however if your dog becomes uncoordinated or loses his appetite while gagging seek a veterinarians advice immediately. 

When a dogs mouth is full of excessive saliva phlegm or drool gagging becomes more of a problem.

These are the ten most common reasons why dogs gag when they bark.

1. The dog’s throat is dry from howling

Its not uncommon for dogs’ vocal cords to become very dry when they howl. When a dog howls it usually means that he is having difficulty getting enough air into his lungs. 

As a result dogs that are gagging will often make a ‘coughing noise’ in an attempt to clear their throats. 

When the vocal cords are too dry the dog can not effectively clear his throat by blowing air through them. Thats why gagging isnot indicative of illness.

2. A foreign body in the dog’s throat

Gagging and coughing are the most obvious causes of excessive gagging and coughing in dogs. Dogs that have something in their throat like a bone or a bone fragment are very uncomfortable.

It will also of course obstruct traffic at its worst.

Gagging is used by your dog in both situations to try and “free” the foreign object.

You should check your dogs mouth for any pieces of food or plastic objects that he may have swallowed if he is gagging and coughing. 

Afterward visit your vet to have him checked out if you do not find anything.

3. Kennel cough can cause a dog to gag when they bark

Dogs can get kennel cough if they are exposed to other dogs or a foreign animal (usually a cat). Dogs who are exposed to kennel cough develop symptoms in their nasal passages. They may appear anywhere between two weeks and six months after exposure.

The disease can make your dogs vocal cords very dry and make him gag when he barks.

Your dog should be analyzed and treated by a veterinarian or veterinarian-supervised pet care facility if you are concerned they have kennel cough. If not diagnosed and treated kennel cough can cause serious and even fatal symptoms.

4. An ear infection

It is very common for dogs to have ear problems. There are many things that can cause ear infections but bacterial infections or external parasites are the most common.

The dog may have brown green or yellow discharge coming from its ear if its ears are infected. The symptoms can also cause a dog to gag when he barks and other symptoms such as head shaking and ear scratching.

If you suspect your dog may have an ear infection you need to take him to the veterinarian for an examination. The vet will provide your dog with the correct medication to flush out the infection and control the symptoms.

5. Reverse Sneezing

There is a condition called reverse sneezing that could cause your dog to gag whilst barking.

In medical terms reverse sneezing is known as paroxysmal respiration.

It is characterized by the animal rapidly opening and closing its mouth or nostrils while snorting or honking. Canines are most commonly affected by paroxysmal respiration which is caused by inflammation of the soft palate.

As a result of the irritation the dog gags when he barks or swallows air.

When the dog barks and swallows air the irritation causes him to gag. Known as paroxysmal respiration the gag reflex can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and usually occurs when the dog is relaxing or lying down.

Without any treatment reverse sneezing usually goes away on its own and the dog is usually completely normal afterward.

6. Canine influenza

Dogs are susceptible to the canine influenza virus which can be fatal if left untreated. An elevated temperature poor appetite coughing and lethargy are symptoms of canine influenza. The symptoms of canine influenza usually appear all at once in dogs infected with the disease.

Because of this you should have your dog examined by a veterinarian as soon as the symptoms appear.

It should not come as a surprise that dogs can get the flu. Dogs catch a different strain of the flu than humans do. This form of influenza is caused by a virus specific to dogs and can be spread by direct contact with infected dogs or their bodily secretions.

If your dog displays any of the following symptoms contact your veterinarian immediately.

7. Laryngeal paralysis

There is a risk of laryngeal paralysis for you to consider

 Paralysis of the larynx muscles is known as laryngeal paralysis. As a result your dog will have more difficulty breathing and will have trouble getting enough oxygen into and out of his lungs.

In addition to struggling for breath after exercise or running your dog may also make a “grunting” noise while breathing and cough throughout the day.

When you notice any of these symptoms in your dog you should take him to the veterinarian. Laryngeal paralysis can be treated with some treatments that can help your dog breathe and keep the paralysis at bay.

The condition will prevent your dog from eating or drinking properly until it is resolved. Untreated this condition could worsen.

8. Allergic reactions

Pollen or dust allergies can cause your dog to gag and bark due to allergic reactions

Dust and pollen affect dogs in much the same way as they do humans. Reacting to these things can lead to a cough that is hard to get rid of. They have narrowed airways and their mucous levels are higher than usual.

Antihistamines are often used to treat this condition. You should take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if you suspect he is allergic to dust or pollen. To make sure he is able to breathe better in his own home keep his environment clean. His airways will be easier to clear if he is able to cough this way.

9. Congestive heart failure

Your dog may have a heart condition such as congestive heart failure.

If your dog is gagging after barking it could be suffering from congestive heart failure. Dogs suffering from congestive heart failure have trouble breathing.

He experiences shortness of breath when his heart starts failing. As the heart weakens several different changes occur throughout the body and this is one of them.

Congestive heart failure is a condition that no one wants to think about for their dog but it is something that you should watch out for.

If you notice your dog gagging coughing you should take him to the veterinarian right away. You can have your veterinarian perform tests to determine if your dog is experiencing heart failure.

He can then lower the blood pressure of your dog and make breathing more comfortable.

10. Bronchitis

You could be suffering from bronchitis or another respiratory condition

Barking while gagging can be caused by respiratory conditions like bronchitis. Dogs with these conditions cannot cough out the mucous in their airways. He also cannot breathe as easily as he should. You can cause your dog to gag when he coughs as a result of this.

If your dog is gagging while barking there are many respiratory conditions that may be responsible. In a lot of ways a dogs lungs resemble those of a human and they can also develop similar conditions to you. Theres a pretty good chance that a few doses of medicine will get them back on track whatever the issue may be.


The first thing you need to do if you notice your dog gagging is to take him to the vet. Its important to let the doctor know whats happening with your dog so that he can perform tests and determine whats wrong. Certain dog gags can be prevented but there are other things that can make a dog gag. Make sure you take your dog in for treatment if you are not sure what the problem is.

There are many factors involved in determining how alarmed you should be if your dog is gagging while barking. Among those factors are the dogs age health pre-existing medical conditions and recent activity. It is time to take your dog to the vet if he is gagging after a barking session and the problem is getting worse over time.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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