My dog keeps retching but not being sick, what can I do?

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Is your dog retching but nothing is coming up? What does it mean when a dog is retching? The retching is the movement of contraction of the abdominal cavity and stomach to expel the digestive contents by vomiting.

My dog sounds like he is going to throw up but doesn´t

In the case of dogs, the retching is often mistaken with cough when large phlegms that resemble vomit with foam are eliminated, or when vomiting is provoked in strong coughs.

To distinguish the retching with coughing we can pay attention to the sound that the dog makes. In the case of the retching, it sounds like "glup" (a guttural sound), while in the cough there is a hoarse sound that sounds like "chagh".

The retching also brings up the difference between vomiting and regurgitation. In both, stomach food is expelled, but in regurgitation, there is no retching; simply the food is expelled without these violent movements of the abdomen.

In chronic digestive problems, the first step is to distinguish if there is vomiting or regurgitation to be able to arrive at a diagnosis.

What does it mean when a dog is retching?

If your dog has retching (which is not coughing) but does not eject anything, there may be two causes:

  1. He has already vomited the digestive contents and his stomach is completely empty (when they are fasting they can expel greenish-yellow bile).

  2. In dogs of big or giant breeds, also called bloodhounds, it can be so due to a dilation-torsion of the stomach.

Whenever there is vomiting, you should:

  • Try to diagnose the cause
  • Prevent the vomiting with appropriate medication (with the veterinary recommendation)
  • Treat the primary cause
  • Replenish the liquids and minerals that have been lost, with water or serum.
  • If the dog presents more than one isolated event of vomit, it is necessary to go to the veterinarian in the following 24 hours.

If you suspect intoxication or that the dog has eaten any object (stuffed animals, beds, ropes, threads, stones...) it is better to go to the clinic as soon as possible. The objects can be removed from the stomach by endoscopy, but inside the intestines, the risk increases and surgery is usually necessary.

As for stomach dilation-torsion, it is a deadly condition for the dog. It is urgent to go to the veterinarian to do surgery as soon as possible.

My dog is gagging and not throwing up

This problem can be diagnosed by means of an X-ray, although we can almost be certain of it because the dog swells, especially on his left side and when hitting it (with the fingers); it sounds hollow.

The dilation-torsion of the stomach is a problem of unknown cause that is associated with a weakness in the ligaments that hold the stomach in place. It is usually produced after eating, especially if it is a lot of food and, very often, with bones and when the dog is agitated or nervous.

Dog retching but nothing coming up

In the case of dilation, it is a problem in emptying the stomach. In the case of torsion, we are talking about a twist of the stomach that leaves the food enclosed without being able to advance or retreat, as the entrance and exit are blocked.

Torsion is more dangerous than dilatation and usually drags the spleen and cuts off circulation. Often it is necessary to remove it with surgery because it has begun to suffer necrosis (the tissue dies).

In surgery, apart from assessing if the spleen needs to be removed, the stomach is repositioned and attached to the abdominal wall in its normal position. This is called a gastropexy.

My dog is dry heaving but acting normal, is he ok?

In dogs of a giant breed that are very predisposed, a preventive gastropexy can be programmed. This is especially recommended in bitches during castration, since the same surgery is used and you just have to make a larger incision.

In summary, if your dog has retching, it is important to distinguish if they are accompanied by vomiting or not, and explain everything we observe to the veterinarian. If your dog vomits more than once, or if you suspect that he may have eaten something he should not, you should go to the clinic immediately. In some cases, catching it on time is the key to his recovery.