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Is Your Dog Dry Heaving? It Could Be A Sign That Something’s Seriously Very Wrong!


Has your dog been dry heaving?

Dry heaving basically means that your dog is trying to vomit, but nothing is coming out. And this is something that could potentially be fatal. So, if your dog has been dry heaving, you definitely should take him to the vet as soon as you can for proper diagnosis.

Dry heaving is a sign of another condition called GDV, but more about that later. First I’d like to help you differentiate between the normal coughs and something serious.

What Could Be The Reason Behind Your Dog Dry Heaving…

Let’s talk about the reasons your fluffy there has been keeping you up all night with his constant coughing, shall we?

There are different reasons he may be coughing. Let’s get into those…I know what you’re thinking, you’re a dog parent, not an aspiring vet!

Well, I agree with you, but try to understand my point as well, if you know what’s normal and what’s not, you’ll know when to panic and when you should take that little furry thing to the doctor right away.

They say knowledge is power, and this way you’ll know the difference a life-threatening condition (that a lot of people tend to miss) and a normal one.

Okay, now I’ll stop rambling and get to the point. Ready?

Let’s go!

1.Distemper Coughs

Things to look out for:

● Dry cough
● Fever between 103 to 105 degrees
● Yellow discharge from nose and eyes

A Distemper cough is an airborne illness that your dog may have probably caught from another one of his doggy friends.

Although your dog may be vaccinated for this in his puppy years, but if you have been slacking on those yearly booster shots, then chances are your dog is dry heaving because of this.

Get this checked as soon as you can.

Okay so now that you know what a distemper cough is all about, let’s see what you can do…

What you should do:

Well, for starters, never miss a booster shot! And also, book an appointment with your vet and pay him a visit…

You’ll also have to deal with your dog’s pleading eyes when he realizes that you’re taking him to the vet!

If your dog doesn’t have a distemper cough, then keep reading for more…

2.Kennel Cough

This is also known as Bordetella and this also is airborne like a distemper cough caused by a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Now that you know the science-y stuff, let’s talk about what you should look out for:

● A dry cough without mucus
● Runny nose
● Sneezing
● Lethargic Doggy friend
● …..And a low fever

A Kennel cough usually goes away on its own and it can be prevented through a proper vaccine.

Anyhow, let’s go on to the next one…

3.Internal Parasites

So, I don’t know how to tell you this but something could be living inside your dog!

Err, what!?
Well, if you paid attention in biology class then, you’d know a thing or two about parasites.

If not, I’m here!

A little About Parasites (Because why not!?)

Well, parasites are basically tiny insects that live inside us (yes, even us humans!) and just suck the nutrients or whatever they need out of our body! Some parasites like a leech, can ‘latch’ on to our bodies on the outside.

● The Roundworm

Dogs become infected with roundworms from eating or licking soil or anything contaminated with the eggs. Like licking soil wasn’t bad enough! Worms then travel to the lungs through your doggy’s bloodstream, reach the windpipe of your pet and your dog swallows them to and they reach the intestines.

So, um, what do parasites have to do with my dog dry-heaving?

Would you be pissed at me if I said nothing?

Okay, I’m only kidding, don’t worry! When your furry baby is coughing because of roundworms, this means that his windpipe is sort of irritated by the larvae, eww…

There isn’t just the roundworm, though…

● The Heartworm

Don’t worry, I’ll not go into the anatomy, I promise.

I see you rolling your eyes! This sort of behavior isn’t acceptable! Go to your room!

Okay, I’m kidding. Let’s move on, shall we?

There are other worms called the Heartworms that also cause a coughing with gagging without any vomit. The parasite doesn’t allow enough oxygen in your pooch’s blood to travel to the heart and lungs, so take your dog to the vet ASAP!

Now, talking about parasites is making me squeamish, so let’s move on!

4. Canine Bloat

This is the most common reason and a life-threatening one when it comes to your dog dry heaving.

So take this one seriously, okay?

Canine bloat is also called Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV) in medical terms. In this situation, your dog’s stomach gets filled with air and the food inside your dog’s belly becomes distended.

Now, when the torsion occurs, the stomach gets twisted on itself which cuts off the exit routes for food, gas, and other fluids. This means that your doggy is unable to throw up or belch which leads to your dog dry heaving without passing any food or gas out.

Things you should look out for in GDV:

● A hard, swollen abdomen
● An agitation and restless doggy
● White foam
● Fast or labored breathing
● Pale gums
● Increase in the dog’s heart rate
● Low blood pressure
● Weakness
● Drooling

There are also a few risk factors that are involved when it comes to GDV. I’m talking about them so that you don’t unnecessarily panic if your dog doesn’t have GDV…I mean I’ve had a lot of panicky moments when I Google my symptoms.

I’ also talking about these so that you can call your vet if you feel that your dog may indeed have GDV. Your dog’s health is the most important.

I know I digress from the topic, but now let’s talk about the risk factors.

Risk Factors for Gastric Dilation and Volvulus

I’ll discuss risk factors that contribute to GDV and increase your lil friend’s chances of developing it.

1.Large Breeds With Deep Chests

Dogs that are large in size have greater chances of developing GDV because of the structuring of their internal organs.

Breeds like The Great Dane, German Shepard, Boxer, Labrador Retriever, Akita, Golden Retriever, etc. are at a risk of developing GDV.

2.Feeding Intervals and Meal Sizes

It’s true for you and it’s also true for your dog!

Instead of giving your dog big meals, break them into smaller ones throughout the day.

If, however, you’ve been giving your furry ball of fur two big meals instead, then, your dog is at risk. So, stop!

Even I used to give my dog two big meals until I read into the GDV. Most dog owners don’t know much about this… Share this with as many dog parents as possible!

3.Aged Dogs

Older dogs from the above-mentioned breeds have higher chances of developing GDV than younger dogs and puppies.


For reasons unknown, male dogs have higher chances of developing GDV than their female counterparts!

5.Life History // Pedigree

Like the way a lot of human diseases are genetically predisposed to us, dogs whose parents (not you! The doggy parents) and/or older relatives have experienced episodes GDV are more likely to develop it as well.

Also, dogs that have experienced gastric dilation are more likely to develop GDV.

What Does All This Mean!?

There are several reasons to why your dog is dry heaving and I have explained them all to you in great detail. Some reasons, like GDV, are serious and require you to take your doggy friend to the vets immediately. Others aren’t as serious but require you to see a vet anyway.

All you should take away from this article is that your dog’s dry heaving isn’t just a cough that’ll go away on itself. It could be something very dangerous and life threatening, so book an appointment as soon as you can!

Leave comments if you want to know more about dry heaving or if you think I missed something!

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1 Comment
  1. Isabel says

    I thought that my dog dry heaving wasn’t a huge deal! But the distemper cough point made me feel otherwise.
    Thank you

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