First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

What is Heaving?

Dogs vomit frequently, sometimes even when they just eat a little too quickly, so a dog that occasionally vomits without any other symptoms of distress may not be a serious worry. However, a dog that is making the motions of vomiting without producing anything, known as dry heaving or heaving, may be afflicted by a number of serious disorders. If you see your dog exhibiting this behavior, a call or trip to your pet’s veterinarian should be made right away.  

  • Foreign object in throat
  • Gastric dilation-volvulus (bloat)
  • Kennel cough
  • Tonsillitis
  • Tumor partially obstructing throat

Book First Walk Free!

Why Heaving Occurs in Dogs

Any disease that results in vomiting can cause dry heaves if the patient's stomach is empty, but some disorders that only rarely cause vomiting are known to frequently cause gagging, retching, and heaving.

Foreign Object in the Throat

Foreign objects that get caught in the throat don’t always obstruct the entire airway and can induce gagging and dry heaving. If you suspect that your pet has an object caught in their throat, they should be taken to a veterinarian right away. 

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

This potentially fatal disorder is more commonly known by the name of bloat. This condition is caused when food and gasses are trapped in the stomach, causing it to expand. Eventually, this expansion will lead to the rotation of the stomach which cuts off the blood supply to the organ. Canines that are suffering from bloat may also have a tender or bloated abdomen, increased heart rate and may have difficulty moving or standing.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a contagious upper respiratory illness that is characterized by a dry, hacking cough and nasal discharge. In moderate to severe cases, dry heaving is a frequent sign of the infection. Dogs with kennel cough should be quarantined from other canines to prevent the spread of this disease. 

Tonsillitis or Pharyngitis

Tonsillitis is the swelling of the tonsils, located far back in the throat. When these glands get swollen, they can interfere with the dogs breathing as well as triggering the gag reflex, leading to dry heaves. 

Tumor Partially Obstructing the Throat

Any tumor that is located the throat area may have the effect of interfering with both breathing and diet. Growths in this area of the body may need to be removed before the dry heaving behavior can be eliminated.

What to do if your Dog is Heaving

If your dog starts heaving, time is often of the essence. Disorders and diseases that trigger the symptoms of dry heaving can be quite dangerous if left untreated or if handled incorrectly, and most of them require assistance from a veterinary professional. If your dog is exhibiting signs of kennel cough or tonsillitis, these disorders are usually handled with the use of oral antibiotics to eradicate any bacteria that may have caused the infection as well as any secondary infections that may crop up. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful in reducing both the pain and swelling caused by this disorder and any growths that are found in the throat area will require removal followed by a biopsy for diagnosis. 

Additionally, it is crucial to get the assistance of a veterinary professional to remove foreign objects in order to prevent further harm. Foreign objects can tear the lining of the throat or fully obstruct the passage of air into or out of the lungs if handled improperly or left without treatment. Of all the diseases listed, gastric dilation-volvulus or bloat is the disorder most likely to become fatal quickly. As the stomach twists, the structures that feed blood into the gastric system also twist and they cut off that flow of blood. If left untreated, this can lead to tremendous pressure in the stomach and death of the tissues that are deprived. If your dog develops bloat, they will typically be admitted right away as bloat usually requires surgical intervention to cure.

Prevention of Heaving

Kennel cough can be prevented by avoiding crowded or inadequately ventilated conditions, stress, and exposure to cold as these factors may all contribute to the formation of this infection. Ensuring that your dog does not have access to things that can get stuck in their throat and watching them closely to make sure they are not chewing on inappropriate items may help to prevent anything becoming lodged in the throat entirely. 

Although any breed of dog can develop bloat, deep-chested breeds such as the Doberman, the Standard Poodle, and the Great Dane, among others are predisposed. If your dog has a deep chest and has a high likelihood of developing the disorder, several steps can be taken to reduce the possibility that it will become a problem. Feeding your companion multiple smaller meals, slowing their rate of eating by using feeding bowls designed to reduce the rate of feeding, and adding wet food to the diet are measures that may be taken. Owners of dogs that are at particularly high risk may choose to perform an elective surgery to suture the stomach to the wall of the body to prevent it from being able to twist.

Cost of Heaving

The types of diseases and disorders that are associated with dry heaving or retching  generally need some form of veterinary care. While the diseases that are most often related to infection of some sort are relatively inexpensive to treat at averages of $500 for tonsillitis and $650 for cases of kennel cough, treatment for gastric dilation generally averages $5000 and tumors that are located in the throat area are likely to run in the $8500 range to treat.

Heaving Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Reggie
Beagle
9 Weeks
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Dry heaving and diarrhoea
Dry Heaving

Hello,
I have a beagle puppy called Reggie, that we brought home nearly a week ago. He's on a dry biscuit diet with the occasional chicken or fish added to his dinner, as he is pretty slim and we're trying to make him gain a little more weight.
We tried some new treats for him last night and ever since he's been dry heaving but no vomit (apart from the night before that when he vomited but we think that was from the worming treatment he had, as he had flees when we got him but wasn't told by the previous owners) He has also had diarrhoea since this so I'm assuming he has a sensitive stomach also.
I would really appreciate some advice regarding his dry heaving as I am worried that it hasn't pasted since last night.
Thank you in advance.

Michele King
Dr. Michele King, DVM
245 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. It would be best to have Reggie seen as soon as possible by your veterinarian. Puppies are very susceptible to parasites, intestinal blockages, and infectious diseases like Parvovirus. They are so small that they can't typically afford to become dehydrated. I hope that he is okay.

Add a comment to Reggie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Gator
Australian Cattle
10 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Dry Heaving

Medication Used

none

My dog at night has occasional dry heaving. He did it about 3 times a few nights ago, then again the next night but only dry heaved once. He is a 10 month old cattle dog. He does like to chew on things that he shouldn’t, but when dry heaves I check his throat for obstructions and there is none. He eats fast, but he doesn’t dry heave after eating. He is pooping and breathing fine. He just sometimes dry heaves at night.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1808 Recommendations
Dry heaving may be caused by a variety of conditions; if Gator isn’t in any distress you should keep an eye on things and also look out for any changes around the home like new cleaning products which may irritate the airways. If these episodes continue, you should have Gator checked over by your Veterinarian to listen to the lungs and to check the throat etc… thoroughly. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Gator's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Garth
Terrier chayawa
1 Year
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Dry Heaving
Spitting up

We just adopted our dog from the shelter yesterday and we fed him the food they provided for us and every so often he starts heaving. Sometimes he heaves up clear or white liquid. When we take him outside he doesn't do it at all. Is there any reason of why he is doing this?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1808 Recommendations

Heaving may be caused by a variety of causes, but if you are noticing that Garth is heaving whilst in the house there may be something in your house which is causing irritation to him which is inducing heaving and then vomiting. Cigarette smoke, cleaning products and other smells may induce coughing, heaving and vomiting; try taking Garth to a friends house (a good friend) and see if the heaving occurs there, if not try to see any differences. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Garth's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Atlas
German Shepherd Dog
4 Months
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

My male German Shepherd is about 4 months old and early this morning he started dry heaving (not vomiting) in his kennel. I let him out and took him outside to go to the bathroom (both #1 and #2) and he was fine as soon as he exited the kennel. This happened about 2 weeks ago as well. His stomach doesn’t feel full or bloated

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1808 Recommendations
Is the inside of his kennel clean? There may be something in there which is causing irritation to his respiratory system which clears up once he is in clear air. I would keep Atlas out of his kennel and would give the inside a thorough clean to make sure that dust, particles, debris or anything else isn’t having an effect on him. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Atlas's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Nugget
Schnoodle
2 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

I have a 2 year old male schoodle and he has been heaving and sometimes a clear fluid comes out. He has been normal except for that please tell me what I can do for him. We live in Az and also in the mornings when we go out he sneezes.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1808 Recommendations
There are various causes for heaving with production of a clear fluid and may be attributable to an empty stomach (acid causes irritation and vomiting), hair in the throat, laryngeal masses, infections among other causes; try to keep Nugget fed with small regular meals so that his stomach is not left empty for long periods. If you don’t see an improvement you should have your Veterinarian check Nugget over to be one the safe side in case there is a mass or something else in the throat. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Nugget's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Mable
Great Dane
12 Weeks
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Dry Heaving

My 3 month Great Dane started dry heaving in the middle of the night and has continued until now. She heaves and then coughs probably every 10-15 minutes. Nothing comes up with it, and she is normal in all other areas. She has gone both 1 and 2 outside. She doesn’t have any stomach tenderness and still is a high energy pup. What do I do?

Michele King
Dr. Michele King, DVM
245 Recommendations
Thank you for contacting us about Mable. It would probably be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, and have a stool sample looked at, to check for intestinal parasites. That is a common cause for stomach upset and intestinal problems in puppies. Since she is doing this every 15 minutes, it would be best to have her seen today, as the veterinarian will be able to examine her, make sure that she is okay, and that there aren't any other concerns. If she is nauseous, they can treat her for that. It is good that she seems normal otherwise, but that frequency of dry heaving is concerning. I hope that she is okay!

Add a comment to Mable's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Rocky
Min Pin
6-8 yrs old
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Our My min pin is about 6-7 yrs old. Hes our son of the family. He’s been heaving couple days now. Not all the time, but with a whistling sound out his nose. And vomited once also. He is over weight for his size. But Any idea what it could be. Honestly we don’t have that kind of money to afford vet bills.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1808 Recommendations
Heaving may be caused by a few different causes including dietary issues, foreign objects, tumours, inflammation among other issues; I would strongly recommend that at a minimum you put Rocky on a diet, there are many good weight management diets out there and cut out treats/table scraps (if you give any). If the heaving continues, you should visit a Veterinarian regardless of cost to just give Rocky a once over to check for anything obvious (should cost no more than $50-$100) which may be valuable. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Rocky's experience

Was this experience helpful?