Why Do Dogs Gag When They Bark?


Dogs gag when they bark for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because their throat is dry from howling, in which case the dog will usually try to clear his throat by making a ‘coughing noise.’ 

Some dogs gagging will have a foreign object in their throats, such as plastic bags or bones.

If a dog gags frequently, you should take him to a veterinarian to have him checked over.

Gagging is not generally a sign of illness; however, if your dog is gagging and becomes uncoordinated and loses his appetite, immediately seek the advice of a veterinarian. 

A dog’s gagging becomes a bigger problem if excessive amounts of saliva, phlegm, or drool are present in the dog’s mouth.

Here are my ten top reasons why dogs gag when they bark.

[1] The dog’s throat is dry from howling

When dogs howl, it’s not uncommon for the vocal cords to become very dry. This usually means that a dog is struggling to make enough airflow through his throat for howling. 

All dogs gagging, for this reason, will usually try to make a ‘coughing noise’ to try and clear their throats. 

A dog can usually clear his throat by ‘blowing’ air through his vocal cords, but if they are too dry, the vocal cords won’t work properly. This is why gagging is not a sign of illness.

[2] A foreign body in the dog’s throat

This is the most apparent cause of excessive gagging and coughing in dogs. If a dog has something in its throat, such as a bone or a bone fragment, at the very least it will be very uncomfortable for the dog.

And, of course, at its worst it will cause an obstruction.

In both situations your dog will use gagging to try and “free” the foreign object.

If you see your dog gagging and coughing, it’s a good idea to check his mouth for any pieces of food or plastic objects that he may have accidentally swallowed. 

If you don’t find anything, then visit your vet to have him checked over.

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

Kennel cough occurs when a dog is exposed to other dogs or a foreign animal (usually a cat). When a dog is exposed to kennel cough, they will actually develop symptoms in their nasal passages. Symptoms can appear anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months after exposure.

Kennel cough is also a disease that can make a dog’s vocal cords very dry and cause him to gag when he barks.

If you are worried that your dog may have kennel cough, you should take them to a veterinarian or specialized pet care center for diagnosis and treatment. Kennel cough can be severe and can even be fatal if not diagnosed and treated.

[4] An ear infection

Ear problems are very common in dogs. Many things can cause ear infections, but the most common is a bacterial infection or an external parasite. If the dog’s ears are infected, then it is not uncommon for the dog to have brown, green, or yellow discharge coming from the ear. These symptoms can also make a dog gag when they bark, and other symptoms such as head shaking and scratching of the ears.

If you think your dog may have an ear infection, then you must take him to be examined by a veterinarian. They will be able to give your dog the correct medication to flush out the infection and get the symptoms under control.

[5] Reverse Sneezing

Your dog could be gagging while barking due to something called reverse sneezing.

Reverse sneezing is a condition known as paroxysmal respiration.

It is characterized by an animal rapidly opening and closing its mouth or nostrils while at the same time making a snorting or honking sound. Paroxysmal respiration occurs most commonly in canines and is caused when a dog’s soft palate becomes inflamed.

The irritation causes the dog to gag when he barks and swallows air.

The irritation causes the dog to gag when he barks and swallows air. The gag reflex known as paroxysmal respiration can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and usually happens while the dog is relaxing or lying down.

Reverse sneezing goes away on its own without any treatment, and the dog is usually completely normal.

[6] Canine influenza

Canine influenza is a virus that affects dogs and can be fatal if not treated. Symptoms of canine influenza include a high fever, poor appetite, cough, and lethargy. Dogs who are affected by canine influenza will usually have an epidemic of symptoms all at once.

This is why it’s important to get your dog checked over with a veterinarian as soon as the symptoms appear.

Dogs can catch the flu, so it shouldn’t be too surprising. However, the flu dogs catch is much different than that of humans. It is caused by an influenza virus that is specific to dogs, and it is spread through direct contact with infected dogs, their bodily secretions, or saliva.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice symptoms in your dog that include:

[7] Laryngeal paralysis

 Laryngeal paralysis is something that you need to be concerned about

 Laryngeal paralysis is where the muscles of the larynx become paralyzed. Your dog will have more difficulty breathing and will be unable to get enough air in and out of his lungs.

The way your dog will show this is by struggling for breath after running or exertion, making a “grunting” noise while breathing, and coughing throughout the day.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, then you should take him to the veterinarian. There are some treatments for laryngeal paralysis that can help your dog’s breathing and keep the paralysis at bay.

Your dog will not be able to eat or drink properly until the condition is resolved. You should be aware that this condition can get worse if it’s left untreated.

[8] Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to dust or pollen can make your dog gag while it barks

Yes, dogs react much the same way as humans do to dust and pollen. When they react to these things, they can have a cough that is hard for them to clear out. This is because their airways become narrowed, and there is more mucous than usual.

Many times this is treated with an anti-histamine. If you think your dog is suffering from dust or pollen allergies, then you should take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Keep your environment clean so that he can breathe better in his own home. This will help him be able to cough and clear his airways more easily.

[9] Congestive heart failure

Your dog could have a heart condition like congestive heart failure.

Congestive heart failure is a concern if your dog is gagging after a barking session. This is because the dog is experiencing trouble breathing.

Your dog’s heart starts failing, and he begins to experience shortness of breath. The heart is a muscle, and as it begins to weaken, several different changes start to take place throughout the body, and this is one of them.

No one wants to think that their dog may be going through something like congestive heart failure, but it is something that you need to be concerned about.

If you notice a gagging cough in your dog, you want to take him to the veterinarian right away. Your veterinarian can perform tests and determine if your dog is experiencing heart failure.

Then, he can perform treatment on your dog to lower his blood pressure and make breathing easier.

[10] Bronchitis

Bronchitis and other respiratory conditions could be to blame

Bronchitis, along with other respiratory conditions, can cause gagging while barking. When a dog has these conditions, then he can’t cough out the extra mucous in his airway. He also can’t breathe as easily as he needs to. This makes your dog more likely to cough, which can cause him to gag.

There is a wide range of respiratory conditions that could be causing your dog to gag while they bark. A dog’s lungs are much like those of a human’s, and they can develop the same type of conditions that you can. Chances are pretty good that a few doses of medicine will get them back on track, whatever the problem is.

Closing thoughts

If you notice gagging in your dog, the number one thing you need to do is take him to the veterinarian. You should let the doctor know what’s happening with your dog so that he can perform tests and determine what’s going on with him. While it is possible to prevent some of the gagging in dogs, other things can cause a dog to gag. If you’re not sure what the problem is, then make sure you take your dog in for treatment.

Many factors come into play when determining how alarmed you should be if your dog is gagging while barking. Those factors include the dog’s age, health, preexisting medical conditions, and recent activity. If your dog is gagging after a barking session, and it seems to be getting worse over time, it is time to take him in for treatment.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!