Dog Chokes After Drinking Water – 4 Possible Reasons

Last Updated on October 5, 2021 by Marco

If your dog chokes after drinking water – there’s generally no cause for alarm. We’ve listed 4 of the most common reasons for the phenomenon.

You can’t blame canine parents for thinking that their pets’ drinking water should be a relatively safe exercise. Sometimes, however, dog owners can get extremely anxious watching their lovable pup hack and wheeze after a gulp of water. Believe it or not, canines wheezing after quenching their thirst isn’t an uncommon occurrence, and that’s even more true for brachycephalic breeds.

If you’re looking to unearth the mystery behind your pet’s coughing habit, you’ve come to the right place. Stick with us as we break down four possible reasons why your dog gags after drinking water.

Dog Chokes After Drinking Water – The Causes

Pet parents will often complain to their vet about how their ‘dog chokes on water.’ Your concern for your pet is normal, and while a solitary cough every now and then isn’t much cause for concern, there are times when a deeper investigation is needed. Take a moment to go through the reasons highlighted below to understand when your worries are needless and when you should be alert.

1. Dog Chokes On Water After Guzzling It Down

Here’s the thing. Canines are always excited when it comes to eating and drinking stuff. So, it’s highly possible that your dog coughs after drinking water simply because it’s drinking too fast. Guzzling down a liquid at speed can cause it to enter the windpipe. When this happens, your pet’s body naturally relied on the coughing reflex to clear the water (or anything else) from the trachea. That’s what helps your canine’s breathing get back to normal.

You can train your pet to take things easy while eating or drinking by gently removing the bowl when you feel its back to its gobbling tendencies. Wait a few minutes, and then place the bowl back to see if your doggo slows down. You may need to repeat the process several times before your pet takes the hint. But, eventually, your canine will understand you want it to slow down and behave accordingly.

2. Dog Gagging After Drinking Water

Right, so many folks have what science refers to as the gag reflex. When water or any other substance goes past our tongue, it tends to touch the epiglottis (a type of lid right above the larynx to stop food or water from entering it). At times, when you swallow too much water or your morsel is larger than it ought to be – this movement can trigger the gag reflex, which then turns into a cough to stop the food or water from going where it shouldn’t.

When it comes to canines, they’re not so different from humans in certain physiological aspects. They, too, have the gag reflex. So, when your pet bites of more than it can chew or drink – gagging kicks in to protect your doggo from choking. Once again, this isn’t a cause for major concern and has more to do with your canine’s unhealthy eating or drinking habits.

3. Dog Coughing Due To Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

You might think that because your dog chokes after drinking water – it has something to do with the liquid. But, at times, consistent coughing in dogs can be a sign of kennel cough, which is a highly infectious respiratory infection. A dog with kennel cough can spread the disease to other canines by sharing contaminated surfaces or airborne droplets. Kennel cough requires immediate medical attention and can be a danger to pups under six months of age and dogs with weak immune systems.

Symptoms of kennel cough include:

Low-grade fever

If your canine displays any of the signs mentioned above, don’t waste any time and take it to the vet pronto. Kennel cough can put the other canine pets at your house at risk, so you may want to keep your ill pet in a separate room until it’s recovered from the condition.

4. Dog Choking On Water Due To Tracheal Collapse

The trachea or windpipe is what transports oxygen to our lungs and helps carbon dioxide leave them. It’s a flexible tube right next to the esophagus, and it’s made up of C-shaped cartilage rings. The setup of the trachea and esophagus are pretty similar in canines too.

However, at times, dogs can suffer from a unique condition where cartilages of the windpipe lose shape and weaken – causing the trachea to constrict or collapse. This canine condition is called tracheal collapse. And, it’s specifically common in brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short heads like pugs, chihuahuas, etc.).

One of the most common symptoms of a tracheal collapse is loud, dry coughing. Other signs include wheezing, gagging, vomiting, etc. Dogs with tracheal collapse have a challenging time drinking water to eating and are prone to coughing fits at such times.

The exact cause of canine tracheal collapse is unknown. Experts suggest that the condition can be congenital and may have something to do with genetics as well.

Treatment of tracheal collapse depends on the severity of the collapse. But most dogs do relatively well with medications and healthy lifestyle changes. For example, overweight dogs do better, even with this condition, after healthy weight loss because it helps reduce the pressure bearing down your pet’s windpipe. Aside from that, it’s also essential to look after the air quality of a dog suffering from this condition. Namely, it’s best to keep your pup away from pollution and other airborne contaminants that can end up irritating your pet’s windpipe.


There you have it, folks. We’ve listed four possible reasons behind coughing canines, as we promised. If your dog chokes after drinking water specifically and displays symptoms like gaging or vomiting – take it to the vet asap. However, if your dog’s wheezing isn’t just eating or drinking specific – you’ll still want to stay alert and look for signs like fever or lethargy.

If your pet appears to be in the best of health – while only suffering from a bout of coughs occasionally – take a deep breath and relax. That’s because there’s likely nothing at all to worry about.

Read more about: Why Do Chihuahuas Shake All The Time? What’s Behind The Shivering

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