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My Dog Keeps Licking Everything and Gagging: Is It Serious?

Your dog can be excessively licking and gagging due to a variety of reasons. The most common reason is nausea which results in gagging, licking, dry heaving, or retching.

Dogs love expressing themselves. They jump, they cuddle, and they snuggle. 

Dogs make several different sounds, too – whining, barking, crying, and howling. One of the worst sounds that you can hear your dog making is the sound of them gagging. 

If your dog is excessively licking and gagging, there can be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

This article discusses why your dog keeps licking everything and gagging. It also provides you with the possible solutions to stop your dog from exhibiting these behaviors.

My Dog Keeps Licking Everything and Gagging

Dogs can start licking and gagging due to medical or behavioral issues. They can either be suffering from a disease, or they simply like licking things.

Some dogs are natural-born lickers. They love licking anything and everything. 

When that’s said, excessive licking and gagging is not normal for dogs. If your dog starts gagging, choking, dry heaving, or licking the floor, there can be a medical issue that requires veterinarian attention.

Nausea is the most common reason for licking and gagging. When a dog is sick, it starts gagging to regurgitate the food in its stomach. Gagging and licking can also be a sign of acid reflux. It is also possible that an object is stuck in its trachea.

You should identify the cause behind your dog’s sudden gagging and licking to take the necessary steps toward solving it.

Dog Keeps Licking Everything and Gagging

5 Reasons Why Dogs Lick Everything and Gag

Nausea is the leading cause of gagging and licking in dogs. Your dog can also have a foreign contaminant stuck in its windpipe, which makes them gag.

Seeing your dog sick is a heart-wrenching feeling. If your dog is not a natural licker and suddenly starts tracing everything with its tongue, there can be a problem.

Here are five reasons why dogs keep gagging and licking everything around them.

1. Nausea Causing Licking and Gagging

Most of the time, gagging isn’t a serious issue for dogs. It is a reflex that is evident in vomiting. There is nothing to worry about If your dog is vomiting after a short interval of gagging and you notice no other symptoms.

Senior dogs are more likely to gag than young dogs. This is because senior dogs produce more mucus which leads to a gagging reflex.

Some dogs also lick themselves or other things when they are sick. An upset stomach can make a dog lick the floor or anything around them. They use licking to communicate their illness to their owners.

Check if your dog is exhibiting other behaviors:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Hypersalivation
  • Grass eating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of these symptoms, there is a possibility that your dog is suffering from nausea. You can use home remedies to treat the issue yourself. If the condition persists, take your dog to the vet.

Related: My Dog Keeps Burping and Licking its Lips

Nausea Causing Licking and Gagging

2. Licking & Gagging Due to Infections and Allergies

Another common reason why dogs lick and gag randomly is infections. Rhinitis[1] and Sinusitis are common infections that can cause post nasal drip. This drip can be responsible for a gagging reflex in dogs.

Your dog can get infected with these infections through various means. Fortunately, there are medications available for these infections.

Dogs can also develop skin allergies which make them lick the infected areas. If the infection worsens, your dog’s fur may start to wear away due to excessive licking. 

They can develop allergies from environmental factors or from a certain food. 

Be aware of your dog’s allergies and take precautions to remove the allergens from their surroundings.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis Prevention
Image Source

3. Behavioral Issues Leading to Licking & Gagging

Some dogs lick everything without having a reason. This excessive licking is innate in their nature. There is no medical reasoning behind it. Too much licking can cause them to develop hairballs in their throat, which they have to regurgitate.

The hairballs cause a gagging reflex in dogs which goes away once the hairball is vomited out.

4. Oral Ulcers

Having an ulcer is not a pleasant feeling. The burning sensation in your digestive tract can be painful and frustrating. Your dog feels the same way if they develop an ulcer.

An oral ulcer can cause your dog to lick its lips frequently and swallow a lot. Ulcers can also trigger their gag reflex which can be extremely painful for dogs.

Dogs can develop ulcers from dental diseases, infections, or by ingesting acidic substances, such as detergent pods.

Oral Ulcers

5. Foreign Objects Cause Gagging

Dogs love chewing things. It is one of their favorite activities, frequently chewing on bones. Sometimes, bones break into small pieces and get stuck in their throat. This can cause your dog to choke and gag as the foreign object makes it difficult for them to breathe properly.

Other objects such as stones and sticks can also cause dogs to gag. Be aware of what your dog is playing with. Give your dog strong bones if you want to treat them to a chewing bone.

Some less common conditions that can cause licking and gagging in dogs include:

  • Tracheal collapse [2]
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Heart disease
  • Kennel cough disease [3]
Foreign Objects Cause Gagging

Is Excessive Licking and Gagging Normal for Dogs?

Excessive licking and gagging are not normal for dogs. Dogs occasionally gag due to a hairball or because they want to vomit. You should consult a veterinarian if your dog is consistently licking and gagging as it can be a sign of underlying problems.

Unless your dog loves to lick everything, excessive licking indicates a serious medical issue. If your dog is also gagging or choking, you should get your dog checked by a certified veterinarian.

If licking and gagging are accompanied by coughing, your dog can be suffering from “Kennel cough” disease. This infection causes the trachea and larynx to swell, causing a blockage in the passage resulting in gagging and coughing.

Dogs communicate with their owners via their body language. Licking is your dog’s way of grabbing your attention and telling you about how they are feeling.

Unless it is the result of an ulcer, licking is natural for dogs. You shouldn’t take your dog to the veterinarian because of occasional licking.

Is Excessive Licking and Gagging Normal for Dogs

How to Stop Dogs from Licking Everything and Gagging

Address the needs of your dog. If they are licking and gagging due to nausea, get them treated by a veterinarian. In case of other medical issues, you should identify the major cause and get it treated by a veterinarian.

Dogs can lick for many reasons. Most of them are harmless. If you think your dog is suffering from a major issue, try identifying the main reason for their behavior. 

In case of nausea, stop giving them more food or water for 3-4 hours. If they vomit, you can slowly start giving them their food. If your dog has not vomited by that time, make your dog drink ample water and give them small amounts of food.

If a foreign object is stuck in their throat, you can try dislodging the object by hand. Put your hand in your dog’s oral cavity, if it is big enough, and see if the object is visible. If it is visible, try to slowly remove it from their mouth.

If you can’t see the object, it is probably deep inside their throat and you need to go to a veterinarian.

Notice the symptoms and your dog’s behavior to identify the root cause of the issue so you can take the essential steps to resolve it.

Conclusion

Dogs love licking stuff; it is in their nature. Similarly, occasional gagging is not something to be worried about. Dogs gag to regurgitate a hairball or to vomit indigestible food.

If your dog keeps licking everything and gagging, identify the root cause of the problems. It can be that your dog has nausea or any other infection which is causing a gag reflex due to the mucus.

Your dog can also have a serious medical complication that must be treated urgently to avoid endangering your dog’s life. If you believe that the condition is beyond your expertise, take your dog to a doctor to provide proper treatment and care.

FAQs

Why is My Dog Licking and Gulping Excessively?

Excessive licking and gulping are signs of acid reflux in dogs. When gastric acid travels up the digestive tract, it can cause a burning sensation in your dog’s throat. This causes them to lick surfaces excessively. Dogs exhibit this behavior to relieve some of the pain and to stop the acid from reaching any higher in the digestive tract.  

Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Air and Swallowing?

If your dog is excessively licking and swallowing, it can be a sign of a foreign object stuck in its throat. You should take your dog to a veterinarian to get a proper check-up on their throat. An object stuck in the wind or food pipe can cause discomfort and must be dislodged soon to avoid further complications.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.