What Causes a Dog to Dry Heave: Top Triggers Unveiled

Dogs are man’s best friend, and they are loyal and faithful animals that are always eager to please. But, like any living creature, they are prone to health issues that can cause discomfort or pain. One such issue is dry heaving, which can be caused by various factors. In this article, we will explore the top triggers of a dog’s dry heaving and how to treat them.

Symptoms of a Dog’s Dry Heaving

Dry heaving refers to a dog’s attempt to vomit without producing any substance. This condition can be alarming to pet owners, and its symptoms can point to other underlying health issues. Some symptoms of dry heaving in dogs include:

  • Gagging and retching
  • Repeatedly swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or lack of energy

Causes of a Dog’s Dry Heaving

Various factors can trigger a dog’s dry heaving, some of which we will explore below.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Gastrointestinal problems are the most common cause of dry heaving in dogs. These issues can range from mild stomach upset, indigestion, or ulceration to a severe blockage or injury. When food, toys, or other foreign objects get lodged in a dog’s digestive tract, they can obstruct or irritate the system, leading to dry heaving.

Respiratory Problems

A dog’s respiratory system can cause dry heaving if it is inflamed, infected, or irritated. Diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma can cause airway irritation, leading to coughing, choking, and dry heaving.


Dogs are curious animals and can ingest toxic substances such as medications, chemicals, plants, or foods. Poisoning can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and dry heaving.


High temperatures can cause heatstroke in dogs, especially in summer or in hot climates. Heatstroke can cause dry heaving, along with other symptoms such as excessive panting, lethargy, and vomiting.

Motion Sickness

Just like humans, dogs can experience motion sickness when traveling in a car, train, or plane. Motion sickness can cause dry heaving, along with other symptoms such as drooling, panting, and nausea.

Treatment of a Dog’s Dry Heaving

The treatment of dry heaving in dogs depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Some treatment options include:

Veterinary Intervention

If your dog is experiencing severe symptoms such as persistent dry heaving, vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, it is best to seek veterinary intervention. Your veterinarian can diagnose the underlying cause, provide appropriate treatment, and ensure your dog’s comfort and recovery.

Home Care

If your dog is experiencing mild dry heaving, you can provide home care by:

  • Offering small sips of water
  • Feeding bland, easily digestible food such as rice or boiled chicken
  • Keeping your dog’s environment calm and stress-free
  • Ensuring your dog gets plenty of rest and relaxation

Prevention of a Dog’s Dry Heaving

Some preventive measures can help reduce your dog’s chances of dry heaving. These include:

  • Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet and avoiding giving them inappropriate or toxic foods
  • Keeping toxic substances out of your dog’s reach
  • Scheduling regular veterinary checkups and vaccinations
  • Ensuring your dog gets enough exercise and mental stimulation
  • Avoiding overfeeding your dog or feeding them too quickly

The Bottom Line

Dry heaving in dogs can be a disturbing condition, but it is usually treatable if caught early. Its causes can range from gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems, poisoning, heatstroke, or motion sickness. By taking preventive measures such as feeding your dog a balanced diet, keeping toxic substances out of their reach, and scheduling regular veterinary checkups, you can help keep your dog healthy and avoid dry heaving-related complications.


  • Q: Is dry heaving in dogs a serious condition?
  • A: Dry heaving in dogs can be a sign of an underlying health issue, some of which can be serious if not treated early. If your dog exhibits dry heaving symptoms, it is best to seek veterinary attention to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.
  • Q: Can my dog die from dry heaving?
  • A: Although dry heaving itself is not life-threatening, its underlying cause can be. For example, gastrointestinal blockages or poisoning can lead to severe complications such as dehydration, organ damage, or death. Early medical intervention can help prevent these complications.
  • Q: Can my dog get motion sickness?
  • A: Yes, dogs can experience motion sickness, especially when traveling in a car or airplane. Motion sickness can cause symptoms such as dry heaving, drooling, nausea, or vomiting. If your dog experiences motion sickness, you can talk to your veterinarian about medications or strategies to ease their symptoms.


  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/why-is-my-dog-heaving/
  • https://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/common-emergencies/e_dg_dry_heaving_gagging
  • https://www.cuteness.com/13719233/dry-heaves-in-dogs-what-you-need-to-know

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