My Dog Sounds Like He Has A Hairball: Help! Why Is My Dog Gagging?

Yes, even dogs get hairballs! When they do indeed get these hairballs, you can hear that dreadful sound that nearly sounds like a goose honking, and it's almost always followed by a loud coughing sound.

Gagging is a common dog response to remove something that’s disturbing their throat. It comes on fast and disappears just as swiftly without recurrence. But what if this persists regularly? 

Read on to find out why your dog is retching like he has a hairball and what you can do to stop it.

Why Is My Dog Gagging Like He Has A Hairball? 

There may be many reasons why your dog gags like he has a hairball. Here are some of those reasons:

Hairball

Although cats are more often linked with hairballs, dogs do acquire them as well, but not as regularly.

When your dog eats fur, the hair does not move through the digestive system easily and collects, resulting in a hairball. Coughing, retching, vomiting, lack of appetite if a blockage occurs, and gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhoea, are all indications of a hairball.

If this happens, your dog may experience significant medical problems, necessitating veterinarian treatment as well as a possible surgical intervention to remove the obstruction. 

However, the majority of hairballs may be passed with the help of laxatives or other supplements. However, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure so it is better to avoid hairballs in the first place.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, also known as bordetella or infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory ailment that affects dogs in kennels (thus the name), dog parks, dog shows, and just about everywhere where airborne viruses can pass from one dog to another.

Many owners believe their dog has something stuck in its throat when, in reality, the dog's throat is extremely inflamed due to kennel cough. Dogs that have anything caught in their airway are in excruciating pain. 

Kennel cough usually goes away in two to three weeks. Antibiotics, as well as cough suppressants, are frequently recommended to avoid problems and hasten recovery. Do consult with your local veterinarian for a more concise diagnosis.  

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis in dogs causes a dry, hacking cough that becomes worse with activity and enthusiasm. It is brought on by chronic inflammation of the airways. Inflammation causes the lining of the airways to expand and generate mucus, narrowing the passageways in the lungs even further. 

The illness is considered to be caused by exposure to airborne contaminants and irritants such as cigarette smoke.

Collapsing Trachea

A collapsed trachea is more likely to happen in little dogs. When the cartilage rings that partially encircle the trachea deteriorate and can no longer support the trachea, this is what happens. 

It collapses on itself, forming a tiny channel through which air is pushed, resulting in a distinctive honking sound akin to that of a goose.

Heat, activity, and obesity aggravate a collapsing trachea. Dogs with tracheal collapse have a dry cough that comes and goes. If the trachea collapses completely, the dog will have a lot of trouble breathing.

Cancer

Coughing can be severe or mild in dogs with lung cancer, depending on the kind and severity of the disease. The majority of these malignancies are metastatic, which means they originated elsewhere in the body and have spread to the lungs. Any type of lung cancer has a bad prognosis.

Heart Issues

Coughing in dogs might be a symptom of heart disease. A blue-tinged tongue, decreased appetite, fatigue, weakness, poorer endurance, fast or depressed pulse, and trouble breathing are all signs to watch out for.

If you detect these signs in your dog, takeit to the vet. If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, pay attention to when it coughs. It might be a symptom of a deteriorating illness if your dog coughs when resting, lying down, or sleeping.

Reverse Sneezing

Cough-like or choking noises can be made by reverse sneezing in small dogs and flat-faced breeds, like pugs. In a reverse sneeze, the air is inhaled quickly and loudly via the nose rather than ejected through the nose as in a typical sneeze.

Reverse sneezing, while not technically a cough, is caused by an irritant that produces spasms in the throat and soft palate. Postnasal discharge, foreign material, excitement, exercise, a too-tight collar, or a rapid change in temperature are all examples of irritants.

Parasite Infection In The Intestine

Because all pups are born with intestinal parasites, deworming will be required. Intestinal parasites are often picked up by dogs without their owners' knowledge. Gagging and coughing might indicate that your dog has a roundworm infestation.

The larvae can travel to the lungs, where they can then pierce the capillaries and enter the air sacs. If roundworms are present in the air sacs, your dog will have persistent gagging. Worms may be visible in your dog's faeces or vomit.

What Causes Hairballs In Dogs? 

Hairballs usually occur when a dog swallows part of its own fur when grooming, licking a skin area with loose hair, or for other causes, and the hair is later passed when the dog excretes.

If you have ever freaked out because a strand of hair from your dog’s rear end is dangling from its poo, it has most likely been eating its own fur or chewing on your hairbrush. This seldom happens, but it's not unheard of, and in most situations, dogs simply ingest a little bit of hair that does no harm.

Hairballs in a dog's stomach become particularly troublesome when they have a snowball effect. This implies that when your pet has a little bit of extra fur in its stomach, it hasn't been eliminated by faeces in a timely manner.

This will attract additional fur, which will eventually coagulate around it, making the hairball tougher to pass through pooping.

Are Hairballs Dangerous For Dogs? 

While it is uncommon, hairball development can be hazardous to a dog in some instances. If hair or fur collects in your dog's stomach, it will naturally cause a gag reaction, leading your dog to vomit and so evacuate the hair mass.

If your dog vomits out the hairball, all is fine. However, if it does not, the hairball is most probably denying your dog vital fluids, which can lead to dehydration.

Hairballs in dogs can be harmful if they clog the digestive tract and become septic, disrupting your dog's regular digestion processes. Take your dog to your local vet if the problem persists.

What To Do If Your Dog Has Hairballs? 

Hairballs in dogs are quite uncommon. When you're in this position, it's a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to figure out what's causing your dog to sound like it has a hairball.

It might be a hairball problem, but it could also be a respiratory condition. In the long run, treating the root cause of your dog's scratching and licking will also address the hairball problem.

If your dog does have a hairball problem, your doctor may want to look into its food to see if something is creating itchy, irritated skin, which prompts him or her to groom themselves excessively.

Preventing Hairballs In Dogs

If you see your dog cleaning themselves excessively, it's likely they're eating more hair than they should. It's well worth figuring out what's causing their excessive grooming and dealing with it. 

Not only will this prevent hairballs, it will also help your dog's health by addressing underlying issues including allergies, parasites, and skin problems.

Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to prevent hairballs in your dog:

Fix Your Dog’s Diet

Hairballs are also directly related to what you’re feeding your dog. Hence, a high-fiber diet, whether temporary or long-term, can aid in the movement of hairballs. Consult your veterinarian about whether this should be part of your dog's diet before starting it.

It's also vital to make sure your dog gets lots of water since this can assist to keep things moving along in the digestive system.

Moreover, a healthy diet can help maintain your dog’s health, which also increases the vibrance of their skin. This decreases the probability of your dog licking itself as its skin is less itchy and more healthy. 

For example, you can introduce your dog to PetCubes’ raw dog food. Petcubes’ raw food is made with the best ingredients and nutrients to cultivate your dog’s health. It is also packed with rich omega oils to ensure your buddy’s skin is top-notch and shiny.

Treat Fleas And Ticks

Focus on treating fleas and ticks before they become a problem. If your dog has fleas, ticks, or itchy skin, he or she is more inclined to lick his or her fur, which can contribute to the production of hairballs. So don't forget to take your preventative medicines on a monthly basis.

Brush Your Dog Regularly

Both dogs and cats require regular grooming to avoid hairballs. Brushing your dog removes all of its loose fur, preventing it from being swallowed. Regularly get your dog groomed by a professional, and then spend time grooming your dog at home every day.

When Should You Be Concerned About A Dog Gagging?

Every dog, like humans, occasionally swallows incorrectly and experiences a coughing and gagging cycle, so this isn't an issue to be concerned about right away. 

If your pet is bright, awake, breathing regularly, eating and drinking normally, and seems to be in good health, you should keep an eye on the situation for 48 to 72 hours.

If the gagging lasts longer than this, it might be a symptom of something more serious than a mild reaction to swallowing incorrectly. If your dog has any additional signs, such as seeming anxious or upset, having difficulties breathing or not feeling well in any way, please bring it to the vet as soon as possible for an examination.

Conclusion

Hairballs, whether from your cat or a dog, are disgusting! Hairballs that get caught in your dog's digestive tract can cause significant difficulties, so preventing them is not only less messy and nasty for you, but it can also be beneficial to your dog's health. Start grooming, cleaning, trimming, treating skin problems, and giving nutritious food to your dog to prevent it from experiencing a hairball.

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