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Dr. Loretta
Dr. Loretta, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28120
Experience:  25 years of experience in surgery and internal medicine.
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My dog, a seven-year-old heeler mix, began acting lethargic

Customer Question

My dog, a seven-year-old heeler mix, began acting lethargic yesterday. He is usually energetic and active but acts "mopey" and tired. He coughs/gags when trying to eat, almost like something is in his throat. He coughs up the bite and swallows it down and seems fine but he turns his head when water is offered. He eats like he is hungry but the coughing/gagging interferes with the eating and, if he gags particularly hard, his demeanor changes and he doesn't want to eat. He will not eat from his bowl, only when fed by hand.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Loretta replied 11 months ago.

Good Morning and welcome! I am Dr. Loretta, a licensed veterinarian and I am happy to answer your question.

I am so sorry to hear that Toby is not feeling well. This cough and gagging could be one of 2 conditions.One is Congestive Heart Failure or CHF. This is a typical cough/gag for this condition but it does not normally come on so suddenly. The other possibility is Tracheobronchitis or Kennel Cough.

This is a very contagious disease that causes a hacking cough so much so that it appears as if they have something stuck in their throat. This is often contracted at a kennel, groomer, or vets office because this disease is air borne. Since this disease is air borne, Toby can pick this up anywhere. Luckily, this is a self limiting disease that will eventually go away on its own. Give Toby 1 teaspoon of Robitussin DM per 20 pounds of his weight given every 8 hrs. This will calm down the cough so he is more comfortable.

It is best to have your vet examine Toby so you know for sure what treatment will be best for sweet Toby.

Does that make sense to you?

Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please REPLY so I can clarify for you.

Sincerely, ***** *****

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
He only has the cough/gag when trying to eat. Does that make any difference?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
he has not been to the vet, groomer, or kennel in weeks. He is also not around other dogs.
Expert:  Dr. Loretta replied 11 months ago.

Yes, this does make a difference. These signs are more likely due to a condition called Laryngeal Paralysis. This means that the food and/or water that Toby tries to ingest could be allowed to go into the trachea rather than the esophagus causing this cough/gag. Have your vet examine Toby to be sure that this is the problem. treatment is surgical. This LINK will explain in more detail.