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Theresa, A Voice for Your Pet
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 8007
Experience:  19+ years experience in small animal medicine
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Why is my toy poodle gagging often

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About every few hours he just starts a gag reflex several times. I've treated him for kennel cough with medication, but it didn't make any difference. Two vets have looked at him, and they seem to know nothing. I kind of acts like he's going to throw up, but it's more like a gagging sound. Can you help. He had it when I purchased him from a kennel (unbeknownst to me), and I am unable to get it diagnosed properly and help him. He doesn't seem in pain at all.

How old is he?

Does it happen more at night or no difference throughout the day?

Does anything come up like phlegm?

Does it sound like a cough/gag or could it be more of a snorting sound?


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Theresa's Post: It seems to happen most of the time during waking hours. There is little or nothing that comes up. It is definitely not coughing, snorting, or is a gagging sound. He may do it up to 2-3 times at one episode.

I know he has a low thyroid count, but I have pills for that. I'm not always consistent in giving them. Would that have anything to do with it? My gut level says "no," but you would know far better than I.

Thank you so much for helping me!

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Relist: I still need help.
I sent more details back to Theresa so I'm waiting for an answer. Don't know if I should relist or not.

Toy poodles commonly have a condition called a collapsing trachea. This is a very common cause to chronic cough in this breed. Discuss this possibilty with your veterinarian. In this condition an area of the trachea (wind pipe) is weakened and it literally collapses on itself making it difficult for air to pass result in a coughing/gagging sound. Pressure on the throat with a collar and lead can worsen this condition when walking. Many small breed dogs suffer from this condition that may be related to an enlarged heart. Medications like torbutrol and aminophylline can bring relief and prevent attacks. If your dog is a candidate surgery may be an option. X-rays and physical exam can help to rule out this condition. It isn't always detectable on xray but may be able to be detected by palpation on the throat.

You may also be having issues with a reverse sneeze. Sometimes this is triggered by post nasal drip or secretions from the sinuses running down the back of the throat usually the result of an allergy. Basically instead of air being forced outward the dog continues to suck air in in a snorting sort of manner then a gag following trying to remove the mucous. Click this link for more information: Reverse Sneeze

Though the cause can be controversial many times this can be associated with allergies. Benedryl is fine but must be given long term and not all dogs get a great response with it. There are a number of other antihistamines that can be tried to help relieve allergy symptoms. Your dogs may benefit from Atarax (hydroxyzine) as it is a stronger antihistamine. Clemastine is another. Because of the possible inflammation from the chronic allergies a short run on a low dose steroid may prove beneficial. In your dogs case with both the sneeze and cough temaril-p would be a good alternative to the benedryl for now. This medication helps to control allergies, cough, and inflammation.

Check out this site, it discusses both reverse sneezing and tracheal collapse:

Please let me know if further assistance is needed.




Theresa and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Hi Theresa,

I read the information you sent including the related articles. None of the symptoms seem to hit it on the head. He is not snorting, honking, sneezing, reverse sneezing. He is full of energy. Sometimes he can go several hours with gagging.

Having had 38 poodles as a breeder, I tend to have an intuitive feel for canine medical problems. I've also paid thousands of dollars to vets so I've been exposed to many dog problems. However, this is something I have not seen. It is truly and only "gagging."

Any other possibilities?


Those are the more important issues. I will reiterate the possibilities of allergies playing a role in this and post nasal drip. Another thing to consider are issues with the teeth, gingivitis, and infection causing a chronic throat irritation as a result of constantly swallowing bacteria. Lastly, inconsistency in thyroid medication can cause issues with laryngeal paralysis. This is or can be a symptom of hypothyroidism. I would definitely give this to him at the recommended dosing schedule and consider an antihistamine to control allergies. Benedryl can be given at a dose of 1mg per pound up to three times daily. This too must be given regularly. See how he does and if the gagging subsides. Otherwise he may need to go in for a dental exam.

Good Luck