Tips & FactsTraining & Behavior

Why Does My Chihuahua Keep Gagging?

Are you concerned that something might be wrong with your beloved Chihuahua? It can certainly be worrying about watching them gag or hack as if there’s something stuck in their throat. If your pup has been showing signs of discomfort, you may wonder, “why does my Chihuahua keep gagging”?

We’ll discuss the potential reasons your Chihuahua constantly gags, from medical conditions to environmental triggers. We’ll go over symptoms, treatments, and preventive measures so that you and your pup can quickly return to feeling happy and healthy.

Read on if this sounds like something that could help your furry friend!

Dog Coughing vs Gagging: What Are The Differences

For pet parents, it is important to identify when your pup is feeling ill or uncomfortable. One of the most common signs of distress in dogs is coughing and gagging. But what’s the difference between them? It can be difficult to tell, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with dog health.

Let’s look at the difference between a dog coughing and gagging so you can properly diagnose your pup. 

šŸ’¢Dog CoughingĀ 

A dog’s cough might sound similar to a human’s, a dry hacking noise that ends with a gasp of air. Your pup might make this noise when they have something stuck in their throat, but it could also be a sign of respiratory infections or illnesses.

Excessive coughing in Chihuahuas is often a sign of an underlying health problem, most commonly respiratory disease such as kennel cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, or tracheobronchitis. Heart issues like congestive heart failure or heartworm disease can also cause it. It is important to note that coughing can also be due to environmental factors like dust, pollen, smoke, or other irritants in the air. If the dog coughs persistently, it’s best to take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

šŸ’¢Dog GaggingĀ 

Gagging sounds may be similar to coughing, but some key differences exist. You might hear a wetter noise or even see your pup retching as if they are trying to vomit something up.

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Gagging in dogs is usually associated with an object stuck in their throat or esophagus that their body is trying to expel. It can include small objects such as toys, bones, food pieces, and even strings and socks! Gagging can also occur when your pup has ingested something they shouldn’t have, like poison or a foreign object.

When a dog gags often or persistently, it could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as a respiratory infection in their throat or airway obstruction, which requires urgent medical attention from your vet! 

Why Does My Chihuahua Keep Gagging?

When your Chihuahua keeps gagging, it can be a scary and concerning situation, but it’s important to stay calm. There are many possible causes of gagging in Chihuahuas, ranging from minor health issues to something more serious.

Here are some of the most common causes of chronic gagging in your Chihuahua.

āŽForeign Objects or Liquid AspirationĀ 

One possibility is aspiration pneumonia. It is when liquids or foreign objects are inhaled into the dog’s lungs instead of being swallowed into the stomach as they should be. It could explain frequent gagging if your pup swallows too quickly before swallowing properly or accidentally ingests objects that are too big for their mouths (like small toys).


Another reason for your pup’s persistent coughing could be allergies. Allergies can cause inflammation in the dog’s airways, leading to coughing fits and gagging episodes.

Common allergens include dust mites, pollen, mold spores, certain foods, fleas/ticks/other parasites, cleaning supplies with harsh chemicals, smoke from fires or cigarettes, etc. It’s important to watch your pup closely when they’re exposed to these allergens so that you can get an idea of what might be causing them discomfort.

āŽTracheal Collapse

A collapsed trachea is one of the most common causes of gagging in Chihuahuas. A collapsed trachea is exactly as it sounds. The windpipe (trachea) collapses due to its weakened state, which leads to coughing and gagging. It occurs most frequently in small dogs such as Chihuahuas and toy breeds because their tracheas are more delicate than larger breeds.

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In addition to coughing and gagging, other collapsed trachea symptoms include labored breathing, exercise intolerance, and difficulty swallowing food or water. If left untreated, a collapsed trachea can become more severe over time and may even lead to death.

āŽKennel Cough

Kennel cough is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. It can cause symptoms such as dry and harsh coughing, gagging, sneezing, reverse sneezing, and nasal discharge. If you leave it untreated, it can become more severe and lead to pneumonia or other respiratory issues.

āŽHeart Disease

Senior Chihuahuas often have this issue, which may lead to gagging. Your dog may cough if fluid builds up around the lungs due to inefficient pumping in the dog’s heart. Chronic choking followed by rapid breathing, drowsiness, and a blue tinge on the tongue indicates that your dog may have cardiovascular disease.

Naturally, cardiovascular disorders may be quite dangerous, so if your Chihuahua has breathing problems or other signs besides choking, you should immediately take him to the vet.


Another common cause of gagging in Chihuahuas is pneumonia. It is an inflammation and infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It can be quite severe and lead to trouble breathing, coughing, and gagging.

āŽIntestinal Parasites

Dewormings are required since all pups are born with intestinal parasites. Chihuahuas may easily acquire intestinal parasites without their owners being aware of them. The symptoms of a roundworm infestation in your Chihuahuas include coughing and gagging.

The larvae may go to the lungs, enter the capillaries, and proceed to the air sacs. If the parasitic worms are in the air sacs, your pup will have persistent gagging. Worms could be visible in your dog’s vomit or feces. Any signs of parasites in your pup’s stool should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian immediately.

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āŽLung Cancer

Lung cancer can cause coughing, gagging, and other symptoms in Chihuahuas. If your pup is exhibiting any of these signs and a noticeable weight loss, it’s important to have them checked out by a vet as soon as possible. Lung cancer is generally more common in older dogs and may be treated depending on the stage and type of cancer.

When is Gagging a Problem?

It’s important to pay attention to how often your Chihuahua is gagging and how intense it seems. If you notice that your dog’s gags become increasingly frequent or seem to be getting worse, this could be cause for concern, and you should consult with your vet as soon as possible.

Moreover, if you notice any other signs, such as coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing, then this could also indicate that something more serious may be going on.

Another warning sign is if your pup begins to gag excessively after eating certain foods or treats. It could indicate an allergic reaction, and you should watch out for any other signs of allergies. It includes itching and scratching at the skin or muzzle area, excessive licking or biting at paws, legs, ears, or muzzle area, vomiting or diarrhea after eating certain foods/treats, etc.

If you notice any of these symptoms along with excessive gaging, it’s best to get them checked out by their vet immediately. The approach to treating your Chihuahua will vary based on the reason your dog’s coughing or gagging. 

What to Do If Your Chihuahua is Gagging

Watching your beloved Chihuahua gag can be a terrifying experience for pet owners. While gagging can be caused by something as simple as a piece of food stuck in your dog’s throat, it can also indicate a more serious problem.

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Here are some steps to take if you notice your Chihuahua gagging:

āž”Try to assess why it is gagging.

Is there something stuck in their throat? Are they having difficulty breathing? Do they seem to be coughing or wheezing as well? It can help narrow down the potential causes and give you a better idea of what might be happening with your pup.

āž”Limit your Chihuahua’s mobility.

The regular activities of your dog should be restricted. Given that dogs are inherently energetic, it could be a little challenging. Gagging and coughing may get worse while under physical stress. If at all feasible, tie your Chihuahua to a harness rather than a leash. Your dog might suffocate to death if he’s tied.

āž”Monitor your dog’s symptoms closely.

Make sure you monitor the dog coughing and gagging. Note the symptoms, frequency, intensity of the gagging, and other signs such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing. It can help your vet determine what might be going on with your pup.

āž”Check for foreign objects.

Check your pup’s mouth and throat for any objects, such as stones, pieces of toys, food chunks, or anything else that could be stuck. If you find anything and can safely remove it, do so.

āž”Keep your Chihuahua away from other pets.

If your dog does not get prompt medical attention, his cough and gag may be infectious. Stay away if you keep your Chihuahua at a dog training facility or daycare. Other dogs may contaminate your Chihuahua. If not, your Chihuahua may expose the other dogs to a disease.

āž”Regularly clean your dog’s kennel.

If your Chihuahua is kept in a kennel, make sure it’s regularly cleaned. Bacteria and other microorganisms can build up and cause illness in dogs, so keeping their sleeping area clean is very important.

How to Prevent Dog Gagging?

Dog gagging is an unpleasant situation for both the pet and its owners. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent your pup from gagging and vomiting.

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šŸ¤¢Monitor Food IntakeĀ 

One of the easiest ways to prevent coughing and gagging is to monitor how much they eat. If you notice that your pet tends to eat too quickly or try to swallow large pieces of food, then you should break up their meals into smaller bites or feed them using a slow-feeder bowl.

It will help reduce the air they swallow while eating and ensure they don’t choke on their food. Moreover, if your pet tends to grab chunks of food out of its bowl, you may want to consider feeding them in smaller amounts more frequently throughout the day instead of giving them one large meal each day. 

šŸ¤¢Modify DietĀ 

You can also modify your dog’s diet to reduce its chances of gagging and vomiting. For instance, if your pup has a sensitive stomach, then switching over to a hypoallergenic formula may help reduce symptoms such as vomiting or gagging due to allergies or intolerance issues.

Furthermore, adding probiotics or digestive enzymes may help support digestion and reduce stomach upset which could lead to fewer gagging and vomiting episodes.

You should ensure that you are providing your pup with plenty of fresh water throughout the day, as dehydration can lead to increased stomach upset which could cause them to gag or vomit more often than usual. 

šŸ¤¢Keep Choking Hazards Away

Lastly, you should always ensure that your pup does not have access to any choking or swallowing hazards. It includes small stones, objects they can swallow, pieces of toys, and other items that can easily lodge in their throat.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my dog’s gagging is serious?

Suppose your dog is gagging excessively or is accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing. In that case, it could signify something more serious, and you should contact your veterinarian for further advice.

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Do Chihuahuas have throat problems?

Chihuahuas can be prone to issues such as kennel cough and tracheal collapse, which can both cause gagging and coughing. A veterinarian should always evaluate these health issues thoroughly to determine the best treatment options. Also, many Chihuahuas can have narrow windpipes, which may predispose them to gag or choke on food and other objects.

What should I do if my Chihuahua swallowed something he shouldn’t have?

If you suspect your Chihuahua has swallowed something he shouldn’t have, it is important to seek veterinary intervention as soon as possible. Your veterinarian may recommend taking X-rays to determine the location of the object and whether or not an endoscopy or surgery is necessary to remove it.

How can I train my Chihuahua to chew food more slowly?

You can train your Chihuahua to eat more slowly by offering smaller pieces of food and providing positive reinforcement for good behavior. Additionally, you may want to consider investing in a slow-feeder bowl which will make it harder for your pup to gulp down its meals.

Final Words

Figuring out why your Chihuahua keeps gagging can be tricky, but hopefully, this article has helped you better understand why your pet may be exhibiting this behavior. Be sure to take the necessary steps to monitor their food intake, modify their diet if needed, and keep choking hazards away from them to help prevent future gagging episodes. If you have any more questions or concerns, then be sure to consult with your veterinarian for further advice.