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Dr Scott Nimmo
Dr Scott Nimmo, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20372
Experience:  BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
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Why does my Chihuahua cough and gag like something is in her throat?

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My Chihuahua is coughing and gagging like she has something in her throat. She stops for a while then she starts again. I gave her buttermilk hoping it would soothe her throat but minutes later she stars again. Can you tell me what is happening?

Thanks for the question.
While I cannot diagnose Peanut's problem via the internet, I can make the following general comments based on my past experience of such cases over the years :
Where these sort of symptoms are sudden onset, I would not be at all surprised if Peanut has not contracted an infectious respiratory disease such as kennel cough. However where a dog is retching like that, other diagnosis are certainly possible but from your description it does sound a bit like kennel cough and this would be the " Front Runner " in your dog's age group.
I will tell you what I know about it ...
Kennel cough is a common contagious respiratory disease of canines. This disease is usually associated with recently having been in kennels or having been where dogs congregate (like the vet's surgery for example!), but dogs living on their own can sometimes catch it as well as it is an airborne disease.
This is a disease which vets will see quite a lot. We often have to explain the symptoms to clients :
1. Most owners whose dog has kennel cough think there might be something stuck in the throat due to the strange cough / retch that these dogs have - a bit like a seal honk!
2. The dog may sneeze a little but the cough is the main symptom, some dogs are quite bright and alert but others can be lethargic during the course of this disease and runny eyes are a possible symptom as well.
3. The dog will cough and retch for a few minutes and in the end it will be productive. She will bring up some white sputum, sometimes owners take this for vomit. Once she has done this, she will settle down for a bit. This however is a repeated cough / retch which just keeps happening.
4. If kennel cough is the diagnosis then it is normally not a serious disease but will run its course given one to two weeks without treatment. However antibiotics will speed up recovery and make Peanut feel better very quickly.
For this reason my advice would be to have your vet check her over at the next opportunity and of course this would be a good move as other diagnosis are possible. Unfortunately there is little you can do to make her more comfortable on a home remedy basis.
5. There are effective vaccines against some forms of this disease but because there are a number of other forms as well, so vaccinated dogs can still contract this disease.
Here is a link for more information on this disease : LINK
If I have not covered your question fully enough or you would like to ask more I will be online for the next hour or so and I will be at your disposal.

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