Coughing and Gagging in Puppies? Causes and Remedies

You suddenly find that your happy, healthy puppy has suddenly turned into a coughing puppy. A little cough now and then is not a big deal, but you need to be concerned with gagging puppies that also cough a lot.

If your pet pooch only coughs once in a while, it’s considered perfectly normal. The cause could be something simple like a tickle in the throat.

Dogs are social creatures and this could land them in a bit of trouble. They sniff at other dogs, scoop up dirt and other unpleasant things. Viruses are quickly transferred from one dog to another.

Normal Causes for Puppy Coughing

In normal cases, your puppy may be coughing or gagging now and then due to the following:

  • There’s a tickle in the puppies’ throat and coughing eases the sensation.
  • Your puppy could have ingested liquid or food a bit too fast, so it’s the classic problem of falling into the wrong pipe, leading to the cough.
  • It is possible that something got stuck in the throat. Get him to your vet as soon as possible. Try removing the foreign object immediately as well using both hands.

These types of coughing or gagging in puppies are not occasions to be very concerned about. Of course, you could teach your puppy to slow down on the food. For instance, Labrador Retrievers really devour their food. This type of feeding can cause choking, gagging and even vomiting.

Tip: Check out some good slow feeding bowls that will prevent your dog from devouring foods/liquids. Such bowls come with ridges that reduce the surface area, so that your puppy will not be able to gulp the food anymore. This helps in reducing the cough symptoms.

Reverse Sneezing/Coughs in Puppies

Reverse sneezing is quite commonly seen among smaller breeds of puppies or the flat-faced puppy. You could mistake it for a cough. Most often, the cause is an irritant like a tight collar or pollen, change in temperature or plain excitement, also resulting in gagging at times. You will find your puppy standing with his elbows widespread; head extending forward and the eyes will be bulging, while he coughs.

There’s no specific treatment for this kind of cough, but if the condition is chronic, it’s time to take that trip to the vet.

Kennel Cough/Tracheobronchitis

It’s a viral/bacterial infection resulting in gagging or coughing in your puppy. He could have caught the infection from another dog.

Your vet will probably prescribe an antibiotic, whereas the body also heals itself in a natural way with the cough going away naturally with time.

You could also opt for probiotic supplements like Pet Dophilus or just plain old cough syrup. Other natural remedies include honey, with just one tablespoon twice a day. Pour a teaspoon of coconut oil over your puppy’s food, or sprinkle some cinnamon, as it is a powerful antiviral spice that can reduce gagging and coughing.


If you hear a wet sound in the puppy coughing, it is possible that fluid is present in the lungs. In this case, your pet will probably find it difficult to breath and there will be a loss in appetite as well, while he coughs persistently.

To combat this issue leading to the cough in your puppies, you need to administer antimicrobial drugs. Try supportive therapy like inhalations to prevent gagging problems in your puppy.

Coughing and Gagging in Puppies

Collapsing Trachea

When the rings on the windpipe collapse, it results in coughing in your puppy.

Other symptoms to look out for are heavy breathing, gagging or bluish gums. Yorkies and other toy breeds are the most likely to be affected and it could occur at any age.

Collapsing Trachea

You may have to take your puppies to the vet to get it diagnosed using radiographs and fluoroscopy. Treatment is usually through cough suppressing medications or corticosteroids for controlling the inflammation, as well as antibiotics.

Tip: Try to get your puppy to exercise more. This will reduce the weight of your pet, so less effort is required for breathing and it reduces gagging.  In extreme cases, you may also have to resort to surgical techniques to cure your puppies.

Heart Problems

Sometimes puppies coughing can also be indicative of heart problems. Your vet will conduct diagnostic tests, like x rays and echocardiogram to determine the cause of the cough in your puppy. Check out whether the coughing is only when your puppy gets excited or after eating or simply at night. All these can help your vet in better diagnosis.

Severe coughing and gagging due to heart problems could present an emergency and you must immediately seek your vet’s help for your puppies.

Fungi/Yeast – Symptoms of Gagging

Your puppies could have picked up a fungi or yeast infection through dirt or even through the air, which leads to coughing. The best remedy would be prescription medicines to cure the condition.

The fungal infection could be on the skin, inside the ears, or inside the body of your puppy, affecting the respiratory system and causing coughing/gagging.

Check out for presence of ringworms on the skin as this can cause your dog to cough.

You might have to use anti fungal shampoos, place a cone over the head during the treatment and also administer some oral treatments prescribed by your vet. It might even take months for the infection to completely clear up.

Coughing and Lung Problems

Puppies could be coughing due to bronchitis, pneumonia and other common lung problems. The problem arises when puppies suck the dirt or grass seeds, which infects the airway and causes gagging.

Consult your vet immediately and he’ll probably administer some antibiotics to reduce the cough in your puppy.  In some cases, the problem might be diagnosed as lung cancer.

Lung Cancer

If your puppies have a chronic coughing problem, there is a possibility that it could be lung cancer, though it is a very rare condition. Your vet might have to take chest xrays to check out the presence of any tumors in your puppy.

If it is an advanced stage, your puppy might cough blood while gagging and have difficulty in breathing. Chemotherapy is one option and lung transplantation is another.

Wrap Up

If you realize that your puppies are persistently coughing and gagging, you must first realize that he is not well. Treat your puppy with the same kindness that you would treat members of your family. A persistent cough should raise a red flag and there is probably an underlying cause for it.

When puppies cough excessively, take a trip to the vet, who will make a proper diagnosis for the cough and rule out the above possibilities. He can then prescribe the right medication for your puppy to get back to normal health.

Allow your puppy to rest while he is trying to get better and in a very short time he/she’ll be back to their awesome selves. Happy Petting!!!

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