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Dr. K
Dr. K, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7544
Experience:  13 years experience as Veterinarian
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My dog is gasping for air . What could the problem be?

Customer Question

My dog seems to be gasping for air like a panic attack or like he is choking. He has been doing this for one day and started again this morning. His throat under mouth sucks in and he makes a noise, not like a cough but like he is having a hard time swallowing!? Help!!

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. K replied 5 years ago.

How many of these attacks is he having per day?

When he has the attack, how long does it last for?

What happens after the attack? Does he just go back to normal afterward?

When he is not having the attack, is he breathing normally?

Does the sound he is making sound like a snorting, snuffling or wind-sucking type of noise?

Does he ever fall down or lose consciousness during these attacks?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

On yesterday he had about 5, maybe 30 secs to 1 minute hard to tell because I am freaking out, back to normal, yes he is breathing normal after, wind sucking type noise, no he does not fall or lose consciousness! Thanks for your help!

Expert:  Dr. K replied 5 years ago.

What you are describing sounds a lot like a pharyngospasm. This question always frustrates me when it is on-line, because I actually do an excellent impression of this noise in my office to my clients, and then they usually smile and point and say "YES, that's the noise!!!". If it is what I think it is, it is a harmless reflexive contraction of the muscles of the pharynx (throat). The dog will stop and have a little reverse sneezing fit with loud wind-sucking noises, and then it will be completely over. Dog's that exhibit this reflex, will often have several episodes of this each week their entire lives. Some owners will report that it is more common in the summer months.

There is nothing that can be done to prevent it, but it is not harmful to the dog in any way. When it is occurring, you may be able to stop it by getting your dog to swallow. This can most easily be done by getting them to drink water, or by gently rubbing underneath the dogs neck (in the throat area). If he will not drink water out of a dish while having the attack, then you can squirt a small amount of water into the corner of his mouth using a medicine dropper or oral dosing syringe.

If this behavior continues, I recommend that you take your dog in for a visit to the vet just to make sure that there are no abnormalities to his nose or throat.