Of the several noises dogs make, the commonest ones are barking and whining. It’s a form of communication through which they display a whole lot of emotions like happiness, fear, excitement, pain, and so on. Besides these, dogs could make other kinds of noises, like whining, howling, growling, and groaning.
Have you heard your dog gulp during or after a meal? It may give the impression that the canines are attempting to swallow water or food. If dogs make gulping sounds once in a while then there isn’t much to worry about. However, if you hear the gulping noise regularly, then the matter could possibly be serious.
Read on to know more about why your dog keeps gulping and the remedies to prevent the same.
How To Tell If Your Dog Has A Gulping Attack?
It’s not an unknown fact that dogs are extremely fond of their food. If you have a tasty meal for them on their platter, they’ll get over-excited and gulp their food as fast as they can. It is important to understand that when your dog is gulping food, a lot of air can get into his system, leading to medical emergencies.
In severe cases, gulping can become life-threatening in dogs. However, eating fast is not the only reason behind gulping. There are a lot of medical conditions associated with it.
Before we get to the causes, let us know how you can identify that your dog has had a gulping attack.
1. Licking Lips
Dogs lick their lips when they don’t feel comfortable. It could either be due to any physical or behavioral reasons. If you see your dog licking air after a meal quite often by flexing his top lip and flaring his nostrils, it could be because of acid reflux. They aren’t licking their lips but licking the air.
Simultaneously your dog will also lick surfaces, swallow, and gulp. Uncontrolled licking of lips, mostly after a meal, is a sign that your dog is about to get a gulping attack.
2. Gurgling Sound In Stomach
Gurgling or rumbling sound in your dog’s stomach is a part of his digestion. It is, however, essential to know that dogs can also ingest air when swallowing food and water fast.
This may result in digestive problems and, thus, a gurgling sound in your dog’s stomach. If you see other symptoms like licking of lips and barking, it indicates that a gulping episode may occur soon.
3. Yawning Continuously
When dogs are in physical discomfort, they’ll express their agony through various gestures. Yawning is one of them. After a meal, if you observe your dog gulping continuously, licking his lips, and yawning, it could mean he is on the verge of getting a gulping attack.
4. Barking and Whining
When something is stuck in your dog’s throat, or if he has acid reflux, chances are that he may start gulping non-stop. This could result in an uneasy feeling. Hence, he may keep barking and whining to express his discomfort. He’ll do things like pacing up and down, moving in circles, scratching the floor, etc.
5. Allergic Reactions
When your dog isn’t getting a healthy diet or cannot withstand certain foods, he may develop allergic reactions. If that’s the case, you may spot your dog pawing his legs and body. When your dog develops allergies and shows other symptoms like swallowing food quickly and licking his lips excessively, then it’s a warning that he may have a gulping attack.
If the gulping is a result of something being stuck in your dog’s esophagus, like any foreign object, then it could trigger a coughing bout. When your pet has something stuck inside, he’ll display other signs besides gulping and coughing, like a loss of appetite and discomfort.
If your dog has swallowed food quickly, it could cause him stomach pain and feelings of discomfort. If it irritates his throat or stomach, he may even regurgitate or throw up the food and water that was ingested. Likewise, if he chewed something that got stuck in his esophagus, under such circumstances, the dog would try to vomit or even vomit. Such symptoms will trigger gulping and licking of lips.
8. Increased Drooling
If your dog has trouble swallowing because of an obstruction in his esophagus, he’ll not just gulp but also drool excessively. If your dog is gulping food because he has trouble chewing the same, it could be a sign of a dental problem as well. When there is an issue with your dog’s teeth, he will also drool and chew at a slower rate than usual.
What Causes Gulping In Dogs?
Gulping once in a while isn’t a cause for concern in dogs. But, if they do it regularly, then there are some underlying causes behind the behavior. Let us take a look at some of the reasons which cause gulping in dogs.
1. Competitive Eating
This is more noticeable if you have several pets at home. If you do not seclude them during feeding, chances are that they’ll compete with each other. The one that finishes first obviously gets to eat more.
So, they’ll forget to chew their food peacefully and gulp it as fast as possible, with the expectation of eating more. When your dog doesn’t chew his food properly and gulps it down, he could be at risk of bloating.
2. Acid Reflux
An improper diet, stress, bacterial infections, hernia, and so on are responsible for acid reflux in dogs. When the acid flows back from the stomach up to the throat, it may cause a burning sensation in dogs, prompting them to lick and gulp excessively. Other symptoms of acid reflux include bad breath, throwing up frequently, restlessness, lessened appetite, increased drooling, and so on.
3. Obstruction In the Esophagus
When a dog mistakenly swallows a foreign object, it could get stuck in its esophagus. This could include anything like a rubber toy, a plastic lid, bones, needles, and so on. Your dog will be extremely anxious and restless then. He will exhibit a whole lot of symptoms like repeatedly gagging, gulping, and coughing. Your dog will also show disinterest in eating.
4. Unhealthy Diet
When your dog doesn’t get good quality dry dog food, he’ll have problems digesting the food. This can even trigger episodes of acid reflux, during which your dog would indulge in increased licking and gulping.
Dogs can have seizures due to a whole lot of reasons. These include epilepsy, brain trauma, tumor, nutritional imbalance, and so on. Seizures are frightening for the dog, and the owner as well. When your dog is about to have a seizure attack, he might have episodes of gulping, swallowing, and coughing. He may display other symptoms as well. These include twitching, increased drooling, moving in circles, aggression, biting tendencies, etc.
If your dog is allergic to an ingredient in his food, he could develop acid reflux. As mentioned earlier, when dogs suffer from acid reflux, they are likely to gulp and swallow. So, they’ll do the same when they suffer from allergies.
6. Crohn’s Disease
This is an inflammatory disease of the bowel that causes the gastrointestinal tract to be inflamed. Some of the symptoms are severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue.
Dogs with this condition will also become malnourished eventually. Since the stomach and esophagus get irritated, dogs may even swallow, throw up, lick excessively, and gulp when they have Crohn’s disease.
7. Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a kind of infectious bronchitis in dogs. Dogs living together in kennels or shelter homes or even frequent dog parks too often are more prone to suffer from this condition. Since the dog’s respiratory tract is affected by this condition, kennel cough could result in a gulping attack.
When a dog is anxious or stressed, it will make it evident through its gestures. Some of the signs of stress in dogs are tucked ears, and tail, licking of lips, panting, and so on. Swallowing and gulping are considered comfort behaviors that dogs do to soothe themselves to relieve their anxiety.
Diagnosis of Gulping in Dogs
When your dog has repeated bouts of gulping attacks, the onus lies on you to act instantly and take your pet to the vet. Ensure that you’re able to answer all of the vet’s questions. These include when your dog has been gulping, the symptoms he shows, and so on.
After the vet has checked your dog, he’ll be able to diagnose what exactly your pet is suffering from. Sometimes your vet may even conduct bloodwork and diagnostic tests.
For instance, acid reflux is mostly confirmed through an endoscopy. The same goes for any obstruction in the esophagus. The vet will check for the foreign object and even remove it with an endoscope if possible. Else, surgery may be needed. In the case of kennel cough, radiographs are conducted to determine the condition.
Treatment of Gulping in Dogs
The treatment depends on the condition that has triggered the gulping. If your dog has acid reflux, the vet will prescribe several medicines. This will help lessen the amount of acid production in your dog’s stomach. It will even tighten the muscles of the LES or lower esophageal sphincter.
If an object is lodged in the esophagus, your dog will get better once that is removed through an endoscope or surgery. A kennel cough is mostly treated with antibiotics. The vet also advises complete rest for the dog.
If stress is the reason behind your dog’s gulping attack, it must be treated through therapies and proper exercise. Proper physical and mental stimulation is the best way to minimize stress in dogs. Also, owners must try to figure out the trigger which has led to the dog’s anxiety.
FAQs About Gulping in Dogs
How to control competitive eating in dogs?
When there are too many dogs living under the same roof, you have to make sure that they don’t have their meals together. In this way, they’ll not compete for food with one another.
Should you worry when you have gulping attacks in dogs?
When your dog has a gulping attack, it is indeed a cause to worry as it hints at an underlying cause. In some dogs, gulping attacks can occur over three months. Whereas in some canines, episodes of gulping can occur on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. Dogs with GI or stress have been more prone to gulping.
If your dog has regular episodes of gulping, it isn’t something you should neglect. A vet’s consultation is the need of the hour. An early medical intervention can revert a serious underlying medical condition.
Take extra care about what you are feeding them. Divide their meals into two halves instead of one big meal. Puzzle feeders are a great option for dogs who eat fast. When their diet is under control, the possibility of gulping can be reduced to a great extent.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.