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5 Reasons Why Your English Bulldog Gags And How To Help!

Hearing your dog start to cough and gag tends to worry many dog owners out there. Even when it is just a cause of a dog drinking their water way too fast, them starting to gag can make an owner fearful that they are about to have to clean up a mess. However, gagging isn’t always something to worry about, and some dogs gag more than others.

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Why Does My English Bulldog Gag?

The English Bulldog gags more often than some other breeds of dog because of their nose and head shapes. These dogs have a very short nose that defines them as a brachycephalic breed. They are prone to gagging and having other breathing problems because of this nose shape. 

Coughing and gagging can look very similar in some dogs and sometimes it is even harder to tell because they can happen simultaneously. A good way to tell the difference between a cough and a gag is by listening to the sound and the mouth of your Bulldog.

When a Bulldog starts coughing, it will usually make a short and deep sound that is like it comes from deep in their throat. The Bulldog’s mouth usually won’t be open too wide. Sometimes, coughing can sound like someone clearing their throat. 

Gagging usually sounds a lot more concerning. First, your Bulldog’s mouth will be open as if they are trying to vomit. A louder and longer gagging sound will also take place. Then, you might see your Bulldog’s body move in a forward motion. 

Coughing isn’t usually anything concerning. It can range in severity from your Bulldog drinking water too fast to a dog starting to choke. 

However, it is usually lower in severity in most cases. If you notice that your Bulldog is coughing, you can try to see if it will go away on its own. You can also give your Bulldog a little bit of honey to soothe its throat. This can be helpful if it is winter, and the air is super dry. 

If a Bulldog is gagging, be aware of why they are gagging. If your dog is hovering around the door and gagging, it is best to take them outside so that they can be sick. If your Bulldog is coughing and gagging at the same time, make sure that they don’t have anything stuck in their throat. 

Why Might a Bulldog Start Gagging?

With these dogs being more prone to gagging than other dogs, there are also many more reasons why they might start to gag. These upcoming reasons will range in severity, and if you are ever concerned by your Bulldog’s gagging, then you should call the vet.

A More Sensitive Gag Reflex

One of the many cons to being a brachycephalic dog breed with their short noses is that they have a more sensitive gag reflex.

With their noses being shorter, that also means that there is less room for everything that takes place in the head, such as the nasal cavity and the back of a dog’s throat. With there being less room, there is a higher chance of something going where it shouldn’t. 

Bulldogs have a higher chance of food, water, or even particles in the air going too far in the back of their throats too quickly, which can set off their gag reflex. As long as the Bulldog doesn’t get something stuck in its throat, then this isn’t something to be concerned about. 

Something is Stuck

If an object moves too quickly into the back of its throat, there’s a chance for the object to get stuck. This causes the Bulldog to be unable to breathe, and so it will start coughing and gagging to try to remove the object. In severe cases, you will have to perform a Heimlich maneuver, though sometimes your Bulldog will be able to cough out the object itself. 

Your English Bulldog is Sick

There are many different kinds of sicknesses that your Bulldog can get that can cause them to start gagging. 

The most common sickness that causes gagging is when your Bulldog is going to vomit. This happens when your Bulldog eats something that they were not supposed to, or it can happen if they are allergic to the food that they have.

You can tell if your Bulldog isn’t feeling good because they will start to eat the grass when outside. 

Your Bulldog can also start to gag if they have any sicknesses that involve the respiratory system. Pneumonia and kennel cough are both common sicknesses for your Bulldog to develop. These sicknesses are also more dangerous for your Bulldog to have because of their short noses. Bulldogs already have such a hard time breathing, and having a sickness that makes breathing even harder can cause a lot more problems. 

Just like humans, a Bulldog can also develop sinus infections. If you’ve ever had a bad sinus infection, you know how much it can impact your breathing. 

With the mucus production that occurs during a sinus infection, an English Bulldog is likely to start gagging on it along with coughing a lot. 

If your Bulldog is sick or if you suspect that your Bulldog is sick, take them to the vet as soon as you can. With many of these illnesses, medication is required to make sure that your Bulldog has a swift and safe recovery. 

Your English Bulldog Has a Condition

Some genetic and developmental conditions can occur in your English Bulldog’s life that can cause them to either gag more or gag more severely. One of the conditions that can impact the respiratory system of your Bulldog is laryngeal paralysis. This is when the larynx doesn’t close properly. 

Laryngeal paralysis can be dangerous because it can allow small pieces of food or liquid to enter the airways, which would negatively impact their breathing. Sadly, this isn’t the only condition that can be developed that would negatively impact breathing. 

A condition that is named after the shape of the nose that these dogs have is called brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome. 

As the name implies, this condition is when a Bulldog (or any other brachycephalic breed) is born with a soft palate that obstructs its airway. This makes it super difficult for them to breathe, and they might even gag on the soft palate. 

A Tight Leash

Back to the non-concerning reasons, an English Bulldog might gag if its leash is on too tight. When on a walk, your Bulldog might get excited by something and want to investigate. This can cause them to pull hard on their leash, which presses against their airway. They might start to gag as a result.

If the leash is on too tight, to begin with, your Bulldog only has to move wrong to get pulled too hard and start gagging. Make sure that you give your Bulldog the proper amount of room on their leash to prevent gagging. 

How Can I Help My Gagging English Bulldog?

Dog owners usually will want to help their dogs if something is wrong. When your Bulldog starts to gag, the best first step is to figure out why. 

If the answer isn’t as obvious as them drinking water too fast or their leash being too tight, start by checking if something is in their throat. This can be done through a visual inspection with you holding their mouth open and looking in their throat. 

If you see something, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you can’t get the object out.

If there isn’t anything in your Bulldog’s throat, check for any other signs of illness. This can usually look like excessive panting, fatigue, coughing, or them having digestive problems. Any of these symptoms can line up with the illnesses talked about before. 

Usually, if your dog stops gagging in a short amount of time then there probably isn’t anything to worry about. 

However, if your Bulldog gags often or for a long amount of time, it is a good idea to take them to the vet to see if they are sick. If you are ever concerned, it doesn’t hurt to call up the vet to get their opinion. 

Final Thoughts

It’s never fun to listen to your English Bulldog gagging. Not only will an owner be worried about their dog, but it’s also scary to think that something could be seriously wrong with their dog. 

English Bulldogs gag more than other breeds of dogs because of the shape of their head and nose. They will start to gag over smaller things because they have a much more sensitive gag reflex. These dogs are also prone to certain conditions that can make them gag more often. 

Of course, if you notice that your dog is gagging for a long time, make sure that there isn’t anything stuck in their throat. 

Being aware of the behaviors of your dog and why they occur will help make sure that they stay happy and healthy.