Recently my dog sounds like he has a hairball stuck down his throat—what can I do to help him?

Hairballs are common with dogs, especially those who groom themselves frequently. This blog post will discuss what hairballs are, their symptoms, and how you can help your dog get rid of them.

My Dog Sounds Like It Has Something Stuck in Its Throat—Why Does This Happen

Your dog‘s coughing and gagging can be a symptom of many issues, including having a hairball or common viruses and bacteria infections. Like any other animal, puppies cough to remove something disturbing their throat. Usually, it goes away quickly, but permanent cough cases do exist.

Naturally, a pet owner will become worried when noticing their dog making hacking sounds and retching. If you’re dealing with a similar situation, we’re here to show you a few reasons why this might have occurred:

  • HairballWhen grooming, puppies can’t digest the fur they are eating, leading to coughing, retching, vomiting, lack of appetite, and gastrointestinal distress.
  • Kennel cough—This highly contagious respiratory infection inflames the puppy’s throat and causes excruciating pain. You can treat it with antibiotics and cough suppressants or search for effective home remedies for kennel cough, such as cinnamon, honey, and coconut oil.
  • Chronic bronchitis—If your dog has a dry cough, it might suffer from chronic bronchitis. Pups with this disease experience severe windpipe and airway inflammation that produces mucus and narrows the passageways in the respiratory tract.
  • Collapsing trachea—A chronic cough or honking sound could signify a collapsing trachea. This condition is common in small dogs and can be caused by many things, including obesity, activity, and heat.
  • Cancer—Depending on the severity of the disease, coughing can go from mild to extreme. Sadly, lung cancer is not easily treatable and will likely show a bad prognosis.
  • Heart issues—If your pup coughs when resting, lying down, or sleeping, it can signify a deteriorating health due to heart disease. Other symptoms to watch out for include a blue-tinged tongue, decreased appetite, lethargy, weakness, poorer endurance, fast or depressed pulse, and trouble breathing.
  • Reverse sneezing—Small dogs happen to reverse sneeze by inhaling air quickly and loudly through the nose. This can cause cough-like sounds, generally because of excitement, postnasal discharge, or a collar that’s too tight.
  • Parasite infection in the intestine—If the larvae parasites shift to the lungs and air sacs, your dog will experience constant gagging and likely have worms in their feces or vomit.
  • Pneumonia—Untreated bacterial diseases can lead to pneumonia. Symptoms like fatigue, difficulties with eating or breathing, fever, and excessive panting tell you it’s time to visit the vet.
  • Allergies—Allergic pups sneeze, cough, have a runny nose, and sometimes even watery eyes. However, they don’t show any signs of lethargy or fever.
  • A simple cold—The parainfluenza virus lowers immune systems and causes symptoms similar to the ones humans experience when catching a cold: sneezing, coughing, runny nose, lethargy, and fever.

The next time you notice that your dog clears their throat, don’t overthink it and give it some time to go away on its own. If it doesn’t, give your pup proper medical care by taking it to a vet for a correct diagnosis.

Did you know: Dogs can get canine coronavirus, but they can not spread it to their owners! 

When Should You Be Concerned About a Dog Gagging

It’s not uncommon that a dog swallows incorrectly or experiences a cough and gag situation, so it’s not that big of an issue on its own. However, if you see your dog wheezing and gagging for longer than 72 hours, it’s time to visit the vet for proper treatment.

Pay attention to your pup’s condition in the first two to three days, even if it’s bright, awake, breathing regularly, eating, and drinking as usual.

What to Do If Your Dog Has Hairballs

Although hairballs are primarily associated with cats, pups can catch them too! It’s not that common, but it can happen.

If you’ve noticed your dog licking itself more often, shedding profusely, and chewing on fur, it might have developed a hairball. You’ll also detect symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, lowered appetite, and gagging without anything coming up.

The problem might fix itself if the dog eventually vomits the hairball. However, if this issue persists, immediately call your veterinarian and book an appointment since this condition can clog the digestive tract and dehydrate your pet.

Preventing Hairballs in Dogs

Dog owners have a few tricks on their hands to prevent hairballs from forming. Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks that will surely help you in keeping your dog healthy:

  • Fix your dog’s diet—Drinking loads of water and a high-fiber diet can help hairballs move through the digestive tract.
  • Regular brushing—Brushing your dog’s hair can eliminate loose hair, so your pup doesn’t ingest much of the fur.
  • Treat fleas and ticks—Fleas and ticks cause excessive licking among dogs, so it’s best to take those monthly preventive medications and keep your pup’s skin and fur healthy.
  • Buy new toys—Dogs tend to shed more when feeling anxious, bored, or stressed. Make them happier by purchasing new toys and taking them out for walks more frequently.

Now that you know how to prevent hairballs from forming, you’re all set! Usually, it’s not a serious issue and can be fixed with an endoscope or surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does kennel cough sound like in dogs?

Kennel cough is a dry, forceful, hacking cough that might be mistaken for a hairball sound. The most prevalent causes of this illness are Bordetella Bronchiseptica, Canine Parainfluenza virus, and Canine Adenovirus, which can be cured with medicine or home remedies.

What does it mean when a dog sounds like it has a hairball?

A dog making hacking sounds can mean more than one thing. Although uncommon, it may happen that your pup has developed a hairball. Other causes may include chronic bronchitis, heart issues, a common cold, or allergies.

Key Takeaways

My dog sounds like he has a hairball – what do I do? Since there are many potential causes of this condition, you must take your pup to the vet for an evaluation. Speculating medical reasons when your dog sounds like choking can do more harm than good, and only a veterinarian will be able to give you a definitive diagnosis.

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