Dogs are known for their vocalizations, from their barks and whines to their growls and howls. However, sometimes it may sound like your dog is choking or struggling to breathe. This can be alarming for any pet owner, but don’t panic just yet. There are several reasons why your dog may be making these noises, and some of them are more serious than others.
1. Reverse Sneezing
One common cause of choking-like sounds in dogs is reverse sneezing. This is a harmless condition where a dog quickly inhales air through their nose, causing a loud snorting or honking sound. Reverse sneezing is often triggered by irritants in the air, excitement, or changes in temperature. While it may sound alarming, reverse sneezing usually only lasts a few seconds and does not require treatment.
2. Collapsing Trachea
Another reason why your dog may be making choking sounds is due to a collapsing trachea. This is a common condition in small dog breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, where the trachea (windpipe) becomes weaker and narrower, making it harder for the dog to breathe. Collapsing trachea can lead to coughing, wheezing, and choking sounds, especially during exercise or excitement. While it may be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, severe cases may require surgery.
3. Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can cause coughing, gagging, and choking sounds in dogs. It is often spread in places where dogs congregate, such as boarding kennels, dog parks, and grooming salons. While kennel cough usually resolves on its own within a few weeks, antibiotics and cough suppressants may be prescribed to manage symptoms.
4. Choking Hazard
If your dog has swallowed something that is too big or obstructive, it can cause choking sounds as they try to dislodge it. Common choking hazards for dogs include bones, toys, and food items like grapes or chocolate. If you suspect your dog is choking, take them to the veterinarian immediately. They may need to perform a Heimlich maneuver or remove the object with forceps.
Just like humans, dogs can develop asthma, which can cause wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Asthma in dogs is often triggered by allergens, exercise, and stress. Treatment may include medication, avoiding triggers, and lifestyle changes.
6. Heart Disease
In some cases, choking sounds in dogs may be a symptom of heart disease. This can cause fluid buildup in the lungs, leading to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Heart disease is more common in older dogs and may require medication and lifestyle changes to manage.
If your dog is making choking sounds, it’s important to stay calm and observe their behavior. If you suspect a serious medical issue, take them to the veterinarian immediately. Otherwise, keep an eye on their symptoms and make note of any triggers or patterns. With proper care and attention, your dog can continue to live a happy and healthy life.