A common phone call veterinarians receive from new Frenchie owners is “My french bulldog keeps gagging”. They’re freaking out. Is it something really serious? Their Frenchie is trying to vomit or they’re choking and cannot breathe.
However, mostly I’m relieved to learn that in the vast majority of cases, this gagging is down to something getting stuck in their throat and inflammation in their larynx or just kennel cough.
Why do Frenchies gag?
Your Frenchie is a brachycephalic breed because this vomiting and gagging is common when they’re drinking water and are trying to digest food that is primarily caused by the shape of their head.
Unfortunately, Frenchies have a habit of combining this gagging with a cough which means their mouths are wide open and they can produce retching noises. When nothing comes out of your Frenchie’s mouth this can cause owners to become unnecessarily worried, this is primarily because they’re not trying to vomit they have a built-in gag reflex.
Should I be concerned my Frenchie is gagging?
Just like their human owners, Frenchies can swallow something the wrong way and this can cause a gagging and coughing fit, so in the vast majority of cases, it’s not something to worry about. Once your Frenchie returns to normal, they’re drinking and eating you should be okay but we always advise you to keep an eye on them for 48 hours.
If after two days your Frenchie is continuing to gag then this is something more than a swallowing reflex if it’s combined with other symptoms such as anxiety or nervousness in the dog’s difficulty breathing it’s advisable to take them to the vet.
What are common causes of gagging?
They have BOAS
This stands for Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and is common among dogs that have a smushed face, Frenchies belong in this group, along with other bulldogs.
These pets are increasingly popular among pet lovers all around the world because of their squished faces however the physiology of their face leaves them open to a very specific health condition known as BOAS. The squished nature of their face leaves their nostrils thinner and smaller. These can restrict their ability to respire and increase the possibility of them choking.
Their larynx is inflamed
Because of their largemouth, French bulldogs leave open access to their throats much more than other breeds of dogs this can cause a viral or bacterial infection of the larynx. A series of underlying disorders may cause this such as cardiovascular disease or another injury. But in the vast majority of cases, laryngitis is easily managed, and seeking medical care will quickly reduce the symptoms.
Another common cause of gagging among French bulldogs is tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough. Because this is highly infectious and because of your Frenchies face and nasal passages anytime your dog is kept in a kennel or comes into contact with dogs who have recently been kept in Kennels, there’s a chance of them catching kennel cough. if you suspect your dog is suffering from this immediately contact your veterinarian and they will start a treatment program
A Foreign object
If you see your Frenchie gagging consistently for over 24 hours, it’s maybe time to suspect something more serious is the root of the problem. French bulldogs are naturally curious, and one of the primary causes of gagging with no evidence of vomiting may be the existence of a foreign object in their throats.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to swallow or try to ingest unusual items resulting in them getting stuck in their esophagus through their mouth. These objects may be bits of cloth, toys, plastic, pins, sticks, fragments of bone, anything that can pass through their mouth to the entrance that her throat might get stuck.
One of the most worrying causes of gagging in Frenchies that if left untreated is stomach dilation. If you see your Frenchie gagging check under their stomach if it’s noticeably swollen immediately take them to your veterinarian.
Intestinal Parasite Infestation
It’s important to remember that all French bulldogs will be born with their own set of intestinal parasites and deworming is important when they’re young. However, despite your best efforts, it’s easy for a dog to pick up another sense of intestinal parasites.
This can easily result in and coughing or gagging as they may have a roundworm infection. We know these larvae migrate to the dog’s lungs and even penetrate the capillaries and work their way into your Frenchie’s air sacs. If your Frenchie is suffering from a set of chronic gagging it could be down to this check your dog’s vomit for the evidence of worms if you see them take them to the vet.
What can I do to stop my Frenchie from gagging?
If you find that your Frenchie is gagging first you need to check their throat to see if it’s clear and they’re not choking. Offer them a drink to try and wash away any lodged food if they have been eating. If you can’t find anything, leave it to the expert and get a second opinion.
How to tell the difference between your dog coughing or gagging
In French bulldogs, this is sometimes difficult as they have a tendency to combine both but the non-scientific way to identified gagging is to identify it as a noise that is made either immediately after or before a cough. It’s effectively like they’re trying to vomit while coughing at the same time.
Identify a gag or a cough
The easiest way to differentiate between a gag and a cough is that a Frenchie cough consisting of mucus or saliva will leave their mouth, but they will swallow the vast majority of it. Gagging will usually come with a cough and their mouth will be open widely making it a loud retching sound. Nothing will come out of the mouth by a small amount of mucus but your dog may not want to swallow it immediately on occasions with extreme gagging they may expel their stomach contents similar to vomiting.
Frenchies are undoubtedly one of the most popular and adorable dog breeds in the world. But before you get one, you need to know that they come with their own complexities. Expect a fun, friendly, lively bag or fur. But with the good comes the bad and Frenchies have issues with gagging and breathing, so you need to be responsible understand the symptoms and signs that something might be wrong, as My french bulldog keeps gagging, don’t be scared to take them to the Vet. Picking up the phone if you have any concerns is the least you can do.
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