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No pet parent wants to catch their dogs’ dry heaving. The sound of a pet in distress—trying all manner of techniques to regurgitate something is quite unsettling.
Sure, dogs vomit from time to time as they eat a little too fast. However, dry heaving is not as common and harmless as coughing.
Now add that to eating grass and you have a recipe for concern.
Dogs are not herbivores. The last thing they want on their diet is grass and its relatives.
If your doggie is heaving and eating grass, you are right to worry.
He’s definitely going through something that may require urgent medical attention.
The condition can be caused by a number of things. We have listed them down below.
What Is Dry Heaving?
Before we tell you why your dog is acting the way he is, we’d like to establish the meaning of dry heaving.
Many people confuse it with reverse sneezing and gagging. While the three words are closely related, they are different as well.
Dry heaving is a situation where a dog tries to vomit but nothing comes out. Here, your doggie will experience a spasm in his entire body beginning from the stomach area to the throat.
The difference between heaving and reverse sneezing is that the latter is where a dog produces a honking sound while trying to remove something stuck at the back of the throat.
Before dry heaving, your dog may cough. Coughing doesn’t include the abdominal muscles and will produce fluid or not.
Dry heaving along with eating grass are symptoms of a medical condition. While most of the causes are mild, others are life-threatening.
Below are some of the reasons a dog may dry heaves and eat grass.
1. An Upset Stomach
The topic of eating grass among our canine companions still sparks a hot debate.
Some people believe that dogs chomp on grass when they have an upset tummy to induce vomiting.
Others believe that grass actually causes an upset stomach in the first place.
Well, research done on the topic shows that only 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass.
While this is a small percentage, it shows the possibility of dogs using grass as self-medication.
For a dog that is retching and looking for grass, chances are he has an upset tummy and is looking for a remedy for it.
Monitor your pup closely and find out if he’s showing other symptoms of stomach upset.
Look out for diarrhea, unrest, lethargy, lack of appetite, and drooling.
If your concerns are confirmed, call the experts to give your doggie the right care and treatment.
2. Kennel Cough
Retching can also be triggered by kennel cough, a famous infectious disease in the dog world.
It is caused by airborne bacteria and viruses that result in inflammation of the eyelids and the nasal mucous membrane.
Aside from nasal discharge, affected canines pretty much remain active and alert.
The problem with kennel cough is that it is a result of more than one pathogen. Most of the time, a dog will be infected by parainfluenza, adenovirus type 2, Bordetella bacteria, coronavirus, and more.
All these put up shop at the trachea thus causing coughing, dry heaving, gagging, wheezing, sore throat, and runny eyes/nose.
A large majority of kennel cough cases resolve fast with antibiotics. Symptoms typically go away within one and three weeks.
Your dog may need a cough suppressant if heaving lingers for more than a week.
3. Presence of an Object on The Throat
Another reason your pooch is retching and eating grass is that an object is stuck in his throat.
Perhaps he picked something up while playing outdoors. Maybe he ate his food too fast and had some particles travel the wrong way.
Foreign bodies range from undigested food to stones to crayons, and coins. The action of heaving is aimed at trying to get rid of the foreign object.
Dry heaving is consistent with grass-eating. Most canines that chomp on grass frequently for one reason or the other are big retching victims.
When trying to regurgitate the blade of grass, they will dry heave or gag.
Sometimes the grass is thrown up but most of the time, dry heaving is all the dog can do.
When a foreign object is lodged in your dog’s throat, it can cause choking.
To be safe, take the dog to the dog for a thorough physical exam and treatment.
Also called Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV), gas bloat is a situation where a dog’s belly becomes distended with gas and twists in an abnormal posture.
It causes a great deal of discomfort for the pup and may prompt vomiting and dry heaving.
In the worst-case scenario, bloat can cut off blood supply to the blood vessels and may cause rupturing of the spleen.
If the stomach gets further distended, it may affect the heart and major blood vessels.
GDV can affect any dog but it is most common among large breeds such as Dobermans, German shepherds, Great Danes, and Rottweilers.
Bloat occurs when gases are trapped in the gut causing it to be distended.
Over time, expansion can trigger the rotation of the stomach. A dog with GDV will dry heave to ease the gases in his tummy.
Bloat is a medical emergency. Without emergency help, it can be fatal.
You need to take the dog for evaluation. He will need X-rays, IV fluids, and surgery to twist the stomach back to place.
If you’ve ever had tonsillitis before, you know that it is pretty uncomfortable.
It makes you do all kinds of maneuvers to try and relieve the inflammation.
Tonsillitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the tonsils. Some bacteria may also cause the infection.
Symptoms include sore throat, swollen tonsils, tender lymph nodes at the neck, and difficulty swallowing anything.
The discomfort brought about by tonsillitis is enough to cause distress in any dog.
By dry heaving, your pet is trying to reach the inflamed tonsils and massage them a little. He may eat grass hoping they will rub on them and offer relief.
Tonsillitis can be treated with antibiotics. However, severe infections require surgical intervention to remove tonsils once and for all.
This is often done when the condition doesn’t respond to other treatments.
Finally, if your dog is retching often, he may have a severe obstruction in his throat.
A tumor in the throat or the lung can trigger coughing and dry heaving.
Most throat tumors are signified by dry heaving as well as violent coughing.
These growths push the trachea and esophagus enough to cause an irritation characterized by chronic coughing and retching.
A tumor can only be removed surgically. If heaving has been going on for a while, treat it as a medical emergency. Surgery will be required to remove it before dealing with heaving.
Dry heaving and eating grass can be caused by several issues.
Before you rush to give your pup a specific treatment solution, visit the vet.
Let them diagnose the problem properly and give the right treatment.
If you have a big dog at home or one whose symptoms have been persistent for a long time, take action immediately.
Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.