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Is your dog gagging but not throwing up? There are many things that can cause this. Some are not very serious, but there are some conditions that can be very serious and even life-threatening. 

If your dog seems like they are also having trouble breathing when they are gagging, you should take them to the vet right away.

Why is My Dog Gagging But Not Vomiting?

There are many reasons that your dog may be gagging and not vomiting; these are just a few.


Bloat is the common name for gastric dilation and volvulus. This is when your dog’s abdomen becomes enlarged and flips over. 

This can lead to your dog trying to vomit and just gag. You may also notice that your dog’s abdomen has become very distended. If you thump on your dog’s side, you may even hear what you would if you thumped on a balloon filled with air. This is a classical sign of bloat.

If you think that your dog has developed bloat, the best thing to do is to take him to the vet right away. If it occurs at night, you need to find your nearest emergency clinic to take him to. 

Bloat cannot be treated at home and will require immediate and emergent veterinary care. Your vet will need to perform life-saving surgery to decrease the air production in your dog’s abdomen and flip their stomach back over. 

Your vet will perform a gastropexy where they tack their stomach back in place so that their stomach cannot flip over again.

Even with the best possible care and immediate veterinary attention, the prognosis of a dog who has developed bloat is about 50 percent. 

Upper Respiratory Infection

If your dog has an upper respiratory infection, they may cough and gag, but not vomit. This infection usually starts in the upper respiratory tract, such as the sinus in your dog’s head, throat, and trachea. 

As the infection gets worse, it progresses further into your dog’s lungs and can lead to pneumonia. If your dog does develop pneumonia, they will cough and gag.

Common signs see in a dog with an upper respiratory infection or pneumonia are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Discharge from their nose
  • Lethargy
  • Not eating

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it would be best to see your vet. They will want to take x-rays and run bloodwork to see if the signs that you are seeing are due to an infection. 

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Many dogs with an upper respiratory infection will quickly improve with antibiotics.

If your dog keeps gagging without throwing up, please see your vet. 

If your dog keeps gagging without throwing up, please see your vet. 

Something is Stuck in the Dog's Mouth

Some dogs will chew on a stick or other objects. These can easily get stuck in their mouth or throat, causing your dog to gag. Many times they will not vomit.

 Common signs of a dog with something stuck in their mouth is drooling. Most dogs will be pawing at their mouth and drooling a lot.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal Paralysis occurs more commonly in older Labrador Retrievers. This is when the larynx does not close properly, allowing food or water to enter your dog’s airways.

 Common signs of a dog with Laryngeal Paralysis are:

  • Harsh cough
  • Gagging
  • Loud breathing sounds
  • Gagging

If your vet thinks that your dog has laryngeal paralysis, they will want to sedate your dog and look in their mouth. They will be able to examine this area to see if there is an abnormal function of their larynx.

 If your dog does have laryngeal Paralysis, there is a surgery that can be done to help the larynx function properly and help prevent your dog from allowing food or water in their trachea. 

This type of surgery is usually done at a specialty hospital by a veterinary surgeon.

When Do I Need to See My Vet?

There are many reasons your dog may be gagging, but not vomiting. This could be just a one-time event, but there are many causes that would continue to cause your dog to gag.

 If your dog continues to gag or shows other symptoms, it is best to see your vet right away. Bloat is a very common reason for your dog to gag, but not vomit. This can be a life-threatening issue that needs to see a vet as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done at home to help a dog who is gagging. It is always advised to see a vet, especially if your dog is also having trouble breathing.

Final Thoughts

If your dog is gaging but not vomiting, this can be very serious. It is best not to delay and take your dog to your vet right away. They will be able to quickly examine your dog and see what is causing your dog to show these signs, and get them started on treatment to help them start to feel better right away. 

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