Avatar universal

Pug coughing/gagging - can anyone help?

I have a 6year old female pug, for the last 6 days she has been coughing/gagging but not all the time - it seems to come on randomly throughout the day and night. The coughs/gags have been dry except for one which caused her to be sick. She has always gagged but its not been so bad as this.
I am reluctant to take her to the vets - as we seem to always be there!! And I have read a lot of people say on the internet that after taking their pug to the vet with similar symptoms that the vet was unable to find the problem.

Can anyone help? Is it something that will go on its own?
28 Responses
1916673 tn?1420233270
The first thing to say, which you are probably already aware of, is that Pugs have genetic issues with their breathing. This means that even a slight problem with the throat or lungs or gastric tract which ordinarily might not be too big an issue for most dogs, can become a major problem for pugs.

I am going to assume she has been vaccinated for kennel cough - if not, she should be - take her to a vet asap. Even if she has been vaccinated, there are strains of the virus that vaccinated dogs can still catch. Has she been near any other dogs recently? Just because they weren't coughing doesn't mean they weren't carrying the virus - and kennel cough is exceptionally contageous.

This could also be a bowel obstruction problem. Has she been chewing at anything recently? I would suggest this needs further examination at your vet. Hopefully, they will do an X-ray of her bowel and lung area to see if it is a blockage - though of course, not all obstructions show up on an x-ray.

Just because she always seems to be at the vet, that's not a good reason for ignoring these symptoms - it may well be something and nothing, but equally, if it is something like an obstruction or a trachea problem, it will need professional treatment quickly. Let us know how you get on. Tony
462827 tn?1333168952
Hello & welcome to the forum.......

Some reasons for coughing:

First, Heart Disease- With Heart Disease, the weak heart cannot pump as well...Fluid builds into the lungs causing the cough..The cough is usually MOIST like they're choking on congestion...Actually, they are...The cough is worse in the mornings & during periods of running, playing & excitement....Fluid will show in an x ray.....Fairly easy to rule out & Heart medications work well for treatment.......

Next- Kennel Cough- This is a virus and antibiotics will do nothing.....Cough syrup is very necessary to help this run it's course.....Lasts a few weeks & the cough is excessive!!!!

Collapsing Trachea- Common in small breeds- This cough is more like choke-gasp, choke/gasp....It sounds like a goose honking....Meaning like when your sucking through a straw & it collapses. Like it kinda sticks then opens, etc. It is actually doing just that.....The trachea collapses then opens back up...This ailment is treated by weight control & Medications for lung disease....Cough meds, bronchial dilators,  Asthma meds., steroids when necessary, etc.

Respiratory Diseases cause coughing....Asthma & Bronchitis are treated with the same meds as Trachea Collapse. This is more of a dry cough with wheezing at times or both....With this, sometimes the Heart shows enlargement,but it is not a Heart Problem! It's from lack of oxygen through the respiratory system.....Steroids are useful as needed for allergy season that can be a trigger.....Dust mites in the house affect this a lot (Especially in the winter when the heat is on and the house is closed up tight).......It seems they breath better outside.....Something else: Dust Mites in DRY dog food alone can trigger this.....This disease can be controlled for years once you know what to do.....

There's a common cough called A "Reverse Sneeze"...You can google it to know what it sounds like.....I can't describe it....It kinda sounds like all the above, dammit!!!  ;)  Although it sounds awful, it's really harmless.....Lots of dogs do it their whole life...

Then of course, Heart Worm Disease will cause a cough....Also will show an enlarged heart....Will be seen on an X Ray....Can be ruled out with a blood test.....If your dog has not been on monthly Heart worm medication, you need to have this blood test done..... This disease is possible at any age......

Also, Allergies can & will trigger a cough.....

All of these can be evaluated by a Vet...Good luck, Karla
Avatar universal

A few backs back, my dog was coughing and gagging (just like you are describing).  It was random throughout the day and night.  Almost seemed like he was gasping for air.    
The vet dx as kennell cough.  Please take your dog to the vet!!  Kennell cough if not treated can be fatal in dogs.  Even if he has been vaccinated, he can certainly contract the virus (there are numerous virus's out there of this!) (Happened to my dog)

Good Luck :)

Avatar universal
Avatar universal
Thanks all - I will take her to the vets later and fingers crossed its nothing serious! The cough/gagging has improved so whatever it is I hope it's on the way out.
She is already on steroid drops for her eyes (she had an operation on them 6 months ago) so I get worried about putting her on other medication also. I'll let you know how it goes!
1916673 tn?1420233270
As previously mentioned, pugs have an elongated soft pallet to the rear of their mouths, which can cause bouts of coughing, particularly if an infection or virus causes a flare-up of inflamation or irritation. Surgery can help (if this becomes a frequent problem for the dog), as it is possible to remove part of the soft pallet. For periods of coughing or laboured breathing (when no other reason can be identified), it is recommended to give a short course of corticosteroid and antibiotic. As pugs get older, the coughing can increase without intervention. This of course is all down to genetics and (badly) breeding in the shorter snout over many decades.
Avatar universal
I wasn't able to get an appt tonight so am taking her tomorrow evening. We thought she was getting better but had quite a bad gagging fit tonight. Now terribly worried about her! Is there anything I can do in the meantime to help her? Thanks
1916673 tn?1420233270
I wouldn't use any intervention meds if you are already taking her to the vet later, as this could interfere with other more appropriate meds the vet may wish to commence ... but if you think the coughing spasm is getting worse, try getting her there earlier as this could potentially deteriorate quickly into a more serious event. I would certainly restrict all excitement and exercise until after she has been to the vets and, hopefully, a diagnosis has been made by them. Let us know how you get on. Tony
Avatar universal
We took her to the vet Friday and ended up taking her to a night vet to be monitored over night, my vet had given her a steroid injection to calm down the swelling of her throat area. She was absolutely fine at the night vet and has been fine since - we have been told she must lose 2kg, we aim to do this within 1month as the vet feels this is the issue - her weight and the wether getting warmer. Once she has lost the weight it's likely she will need further investigation on her soft palette. But overall the advise was to lose weight (priority), keep her cool (use a fan/air con) and calm her down if she begins to get any sign of gagging or heavy panting. The vet also gave us a powder to reduce mucus. Hope this helps anyone else having similar issues and I know pug owners always hear this but don't let your pug over eat!!!!! Thanks for all advice
1916673 tn?1420233270
Good news. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, any (literally any) underlying problem that restricts breathing, swallowing, etc., can become a major issue for pugs, owing to the genetic issue soft palette - and obesity is certainly one of them, as it further restricts the throat, breathing and so on. It's good that you have identified this early enough to resolve it. Great news for both you and your dog. Tony
Avatar universal
Please see my posting from Feb. 23, 2013 "Pug with bilateral nasal discharge, gag, retch and cough." My pug has had an issue since being boarded for the first time in early Sept. 2012. She has had two endoscopies and there was a big change in the two months between them.
She had been on antibiotics, steroids, allergy meds, coughing meds, and more. Kennel cough was ruled out and at first the vet thought allergies. Because of the changes in anatomy between the first and second endoscopy, the vet felt it was chronic bronchitis.  She is now on an oral bronchodialtor (to expand airway passages) and inhaled steroid (to reduce the inflammed tissue).  She is 13, has always been active without a problem. She is still active with the above symptoms which makes it a mystery. She is regurgitating more often. The other night the vet called with an "ahah" thought - it may be acid reflux so we have also started Prilosec.  It will take a few weeks to see any changes if this is it, but I will post if she gets better. I am curious what the powder is that you are giving yours for the mucous build up.
6753141 tn?1384438879
hi there .. I have a male black rescued pug !  He may be 9 or 10 yo has poor immune system many allergies !  last yr he had pneumonia .... also had elongated palate shortened which we THINK has made him cough and gag more ... was told by vet not the cause .. but we still think yes.  anyhow ... he always since last year ... lot's of phelm .. runny nose .... each side ... gets very stuffed up .... dust mites may be the cause OR outdoor mold on tree leaves .. I don't know !!!! we have tried chlortrimatin and benedryl ... but I think he needs more of decongestant ... to help with the stuffed up nose !
i read your response.. curious as to what the inhaled steroid is ?   Marley also has shakes his head ... ears are clean .. ( when we got him 6years ago he was so scabby and ears were crusted black ) poor guy we figured out his food allergy ..beef, grains, corn ...etc ... but this head congestion is too much and when he sneezes .. lots snot comes out .. it is not green.so that's good . but nose MAY run and run throughout the day. and yes on walks !
1916673 tn?1420233270
Hi. Allergies are hard to work out and it can take extensive trial and error to identify the cause, but most obvious things include mites (even if ears look clean) and/or food. Does he scratch anywhere on his head or body that might indicate dry skin/mites? Also, what are you feeding him - and please include everything you feed him, including treats. Cheers, Tony
6753141 tn?1384438879
hi tonyb286 and forum ... I thought I had posted this info but now it doesn't appear so !  I had him on honest kitchen's zeal .... the fish formula ... and thought perhaps there was something like banana or other ingredient that did not agree with him .... now he is eating Canine Caviar wild ocean.  He likes the kibble .. I also give him their buffalo stick to chew on .. he loves greenies . BUT the first ingredient in the greenies is  wheat  or something ,,so stopped those .. I am thinking he has a habit of just being  groomer !  I wash him with Virbac Etiderm shampoo once a month .... perhaps it's mites .. how does one eliminate mites ? nose gets more stuffed at night when heater is one ... ummmmmm
1916673 tn?1420233270
Hi again. It will be easier to eliminate the 'mites' question first. Have you noticed him scratching persistently? If yes, this will give you a suggestion about where the mites might be. There are typically ear mites and general skin mites. These are treated separately, but if there is a degree of uncertainty, it is best to treat for both so all options are covered. Ear mites can be treated with 3 or 4 drops of mineral oil in each ear, then massage the ears until the drops have been worked into the ear canal. The ears are very delicate, so massage gently. After a couple of hours, wipe any excess oil out of the ears using a soft cotton swab. Repeat this process twice a week for at least 3 weeks.

Skin mites elsewhere on the body are best dealt with using a propriety application such as Frontline (you can buy this online a lot cheaper than at your vets).

The Virbac Etiderm shouldn't be causing a problem, as it is hypoallergenic. But maybe it's drying his skin too much, so try rubbing some aloe vera gel into the skin (all over) after shampooing.

These two treatments combined should manage mites, if they are the problem. The best thing to do is try the above, then if things don't improve, come back and report it and/or consult your vet. One important thing ... if it is mites, it is important to replace all dog bedding (as mite eggs will be in the soft fabrics and they will just cause a re-infestation once they hatch). Also, scrub all areas with a pet safe disinfectant to reduce the chance of further problems.

If it turns out not to be mites - and I know you don't want to go back to see your vet, but only he can really diagnose this condition by taking skin scrapings and looking under a microscope) - then it may be an allergy. I have written a piece about food allergies you might wish to read at http://www.infobarrel.com/Is_Your_Dog_Allergic_To_Its_Food

Good luck and do come back and let me know how things are progressing.

6753141 tn?1384438879
thank you so much !  I can certainly try your suggestions and will get back to you ..... fyi ... for flea control I had all dogs ( I have three ) on comfortis which is in pill form since I didn't like the other topical oils for flea control and gosh .. i know Marley had a problem with one of the oils ....when we first got him as a rescue and skin was scabby ears were hard and just about back on the inside ( can you imagine - per vet was food allergy related )  ... I have taken a break from flea control for 2mos now... i know flea is year round.... what do you think .. even in the cold here  sf bay area ?  .. ummm i guess i need to get some sort of flea control ?  
1916673 tn?1420233270
Hi. There is nothing wrong with Comfortis, which is very effective, but it must be given each month, every month ... so having a break is not a good idea. If it is mites or fleas, have you de-infested the bedding and home environment? If not, the larva will hatch and re-infest your dog(s).

Nolvamite, Cerumite, Mitox, Acarex, and Tresaderm are also all very good at treating ear mites - and of these, Tresaderm is probably the best, as it has antibiotic in it. It is crucial to use the medication on all of your dogs, (and clean ears before treatment as per the manufacturer's instructions), as they will transfer mites from one to the other.

If the skin is itchy elsewhere, it could be sarcoptic mange, and you should get a vet to diagnose the condition - and then get the appropriate treatment. Treating the ears for mites will not treat sarcoptic mange at the same time, as it is completely different.

Good luck and do keep me informed how things progress. Tony
6753141 tn?1384438879
tony .. I just had his ears cleaned by vet less than two weeks ago since they do a very deep cleaning ... there was nothing to report !  His ears looked good : )  Marley was always prone to yeast in his ears so there was nothing  ...... I do use the Nordic naturals omegas in their food .. I have notice with the fawn pug there has been less shedding  !  getting back to marley and mites .. I don't think it's that serious ... the mange and all .... I am now more concerned about the itch and mites .... I wash bedding and have to buy the allergy free soap .... ummmm what to use for flea control .. that's my question . I don't like the comfortis .....my other dog throws up even when I feed with food as per instruction and break into two servings .... I still want to read your link in regards to food allergies ......  now if and if there are mites .. just due to dust in the house  .... wouldn't the other dogs be itching too ???  
1916673 tn?1420233270
Hi. No, the other dogs may not be as sensitive to dust mites, even if that's what it is. Some dogs are far more sensitive than others. I would urge you to read my piece on food allergies, as that is a real concern with any dog that is sensitive to other things.

The vet cleaning your dog's ears is good, but it wouldn't necessarily identify ear mites, because they are so very tiny and barely visible to the naked eye - even if you are looking for them. The vet would need to examine waxy deposits under a microscope. Do you know whether he did this?

When you washed the bedding ... two things occur to me ... first, bedding needs to be washed at a high temperature (60 degrees at least) to kill off mites. But the larva can still hatch some days or weeks or even months later, so the only certain way is to replace with new. Second, what detergents did you use in the wash? Any dog that is sensitive to mites, etc., will also likely be sensitive to biological washing powders and block detergents, so it's best to use a non-bio type of washing liquid for sensitive skins.

Yes, many dogs find flea and mite control meds difficult to keep down. They are poisons after all - but necessary ones, unless you keep trying homeopathic treatments until you find one that works for your dog. I would certainly tell your vet about vomiting, as it needs to be a) monitored and b) an alternative treatment must be prescribed.

Is Marley still itching? If yes, where is he itching and how often?

6753141 tn?1384438879
hi tony ... It appears that I didn't send my last comment properly !  well .. mr marley is not doing well .... he is itching and it appears to be perhaps all over but mostly his rear legs ... this can also be due to his arthritis.  It is somewhat cold here .. even though winter has been mild.  I reread your food info barrel food allergy article.  Very good article .... I do recall now marley was diagnosed with "atopic dermatitis"  and food allergy.  let's see since my last comment that never got sent (?) I had to bathe him in earthbath brand oatmeal aloe and conditioned him in burts bees conditioner since I ran out of etiderm !  etiderm is not available in calif due to cancer causing agent .. virbac will reformulate in meantime it was recommended by virbac to use keratolux after I told them about his dander and oiliness he gets .. weird... so I purchased that.  he has been stuffed up, itchy etc .. so today I will use the keratolux on him ( 12/26) and I am wondering about this food .. ummmm he has been eating the wild ocean canine caviar ..... I just wonder about the stuffed nose and good snot sneezes he lets out when barking !!!  ok I sent a lot of info ... still looking at flea control . I just hate to poison would love to ear your view on alternative flea control ..... I have done a little research ...... oh .. another strange thing about this boy .... fyi he sweats !  yes, armpits !!! he hasn't lately .. but he does !!!! he is just a sensitive creature ... oh he also take meds for his arthritis 2x daily and helps ...... hope you had a merry xmas !!!!!  thank you for all your help !!!!!!
6753141 tn?1384438879
one more thing I bathed him last week and I noticed when I would scratch and or pet him that he had  bumps around his neck as if to say I may not have rinsed him well .. but I did !  I also thought I felt bumps on his lower legs ..... he does have skin tags and also .. poor guy I am always having to wash his folds in face he get crusty around eyes and grey goup as well ....he is happy go lucky however having issues .. the vet likes to give him antibiotics so that is why I am avoiding at this time ..... too many antibiotics is not good for immune system.....

1916673 tn?1420233270
Hi. I agree, too many antibiotics is not good, as the immune system gets used to them and they can then become ineffective when you really do need them. BUT, I think your best friend needs antibiotics right now. The lumps or hives are typical of a dog with serious allergies. This needs to be gotten under control, then manage the condition with suitable treatments.

You really need the vet to take skin scrapings to see if this is mites, otherwise you may be treating something else with no consequential effect. So first task, get to the vet, get antibiotics and a proper diagnosis through skin scraping examination. If it turns out not to be mites, then that's good, you can then concentrate on the food (as that's still the 2nd most likely cause).

You say he was diagnosed once with atopic dermatitis ... how long ago and what was the treatment given at that time? Did it clear it up? If you can't remember what the treatment was, ask your vet who should have it on file/record.

People often think dogs don't sweat - but they do. They have sweat glands in areas of their bodies where there is no hair. Dogs regulate temperature by panting, and it is thought the sweat glands of a dog produce chemicals and odors to communicate with other dogs. No one actually knows for certain, but yes, all dogs sweat, just not like humans do.

Wild ocean canine caviar is a very good choice of dog food. It has almost no grain content and is high in duck protein. Now, here's a question, did your dog start with the allergy itching etc after starting on the wild ocean canine caviar or was he itching beforehand? I ask because maybe, just maybe, he is allergic to the protein contained in duck meat. The way to try to find out is to give him something else for a week to see if there is any change - I would suggest maybe chicken and boiled white rice - or any other meat, because these will all have different proteins.

Anyway, maybe I've given you enough to think about there. Hope things settle down soon. Have a lovely Boxing Day. Tony x
Avatar universal
My pug will soon be 12 years old. We are dealing with a small annoying cough. It bothers me more than him. But we dont know the cause. Chest and heart exrays were good. He is on 1 1/4mg of prednisone every other day. This is to treat "whatever". He is better on his day of prednisone. Thinking of talking to the vet and doing 1/2mg everyday, instead of more every other day. I feel bad because it bothers him more at night...and I dont think he gets good sleep...but then again..I dont either!
8478795 tn?1398294349
HI I have a almost 14 yr old pug doing these symptoms of gagging and coughing and vomiting her food up and I don't know what to do I love her so much and we took her to dr a few months ago for her legs she has had arthritis in them  she is my little best friend and I hate to see it is something bad , please give me advice ill take her in but do you all think its serious ?  and she is already vaccinated and upto date on shots ! lori jo
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