It seems like Chihuahua owners never have it easy. These little rascals show attitude and affection at the same time, but also show some rather weird behaviors. One of them being gagging or choking.
What could it be? Why does my Chihuahua sound like he’s choking when he’s not? Is he in danger?
All of these questions come to mind when our little furballs are acting strange.
So, why don’t we talk about the most common causes why Chis sound like they’re choking?
Why Does My Chihuahua Sound Like He’s Choking?
First, let me tell you that there can be more than 11 causes of Chihuahua choking issues.
We will talk about the most common ones, and I highly advise you to visit your veterinarian as soon as you notice this behavior.
Yes, it can be something as mild as just a cough or a sneeze, but it can also be something as serious as a lung condition or cancer.
1. The Dangers Of Foreign Object Ingestion
Chihuahuas are really tiny. These furballs grow into super-small dogs, but they have big personalities and an even bigger appetite to match.
Sometimes, instead of food, these dogs eat socks, underwear, shoe laces, small parts of broken toys, and such inedible non-food items that get stuck in their digestive tract.
Now, these can get stuck anywhere from their throat, esophagus, stomach, to their intestines. When objects are located inside the throat or esophagus is when dogs make these choking sounds.
If you haven’t heard a Chihuahua choking on an object, I hope that you never will because it sounds very dull, as if the dog is running out of breath.
Foreign object ingestion is a serious health alert to small Chihuahuas and it needs to be addressed as soon as possible to prevent it from causing bigger problems.
2. The Infamous Reverse Sneeze
Reverse sneezing is something most paw owners are worried about. It is more common in small dog breeds than it is in large ones, but it is worth noting that every dog can be affected with it.
Why? Because their tiny nasal passages and short snouts make them more susceptible to irritation and inflammation, which can trigger reverse sneezing. It occurs so fast and rapidly that it seems like they can’t stop sneezing.
Reverse sneezing, or as some like to call it paroxysmal respiration causes your Chihuahua to rapidly suck in air like a vacuum cleaner, instead of blowing it out like a normal sneeze.
In most cases, this uncomfortable condition is harmless and temporary and you can even try some home remedies to help your sneezing dog. However, it’s always best to check with your vet to make sure everything is okay.
3. Allergies: Sneezing, Sniffling, Coughing Culprit
When it comes to Chihuahuas, both males and females, young and old, can all be affected by different types of allergies.
But the ones that cause your Chihuahua to sound like he’s choking are related to the respiratory tract. That said, these dogs may suffer from allergic pneumonitis and chronic bronchitis which makes it difficult for them to breathe, resulting in choking, shaking, and struggling to catch a breath.
Anything from their surroundings can be considered as an allergen, from dust, mold, dander, to cleaning agents.
So, if you suspect that your Chi may be suffering from an allergic reaction, it is best to ask your vet to do some allergy testing.
4. Chihuahua Heat Stroke
If you thought that only large dog breeds are prone to heat strokes, then you are wrong!
Heat stroke can also be a serious issue for Chihuahuas and other small dogs, even the tiniest teacup breeds.
When these fur balls overheat, it can cause them to pant excessively, leading to choking-like sounds and other symptoms such as high fever, loss of appetite, and drooling.
Keep in mind that these pups have short snouts, which can make it harder for them to regulate their body temperature, especially if we are dealing with a fat Chihuahua.
5. Tracheal Troubles
Tracheal troubles are most likely to cause your Chihuahua to sound like he’s choking.
Among the most common issues these dogs face is collapsing trachea. It happens when the tracheal cartilage rings weaken, which causes the Chi difficulties breathing.
This and other tracheal issues are very uncomfortable for your pup and can even lead to aggressive behavior, along with weight loss, lethargy, and coughing.
Do not ignore this condition and visit your vet as soon as possible, as surgery might be the only way to treat it.
6. Laryngeal Paralysis
This is also a serious condition that weakens or paralyzes the Chihuahua’s muscles in the larynx (voice box) causing him to sound like he’s choking.
Now, as opposed to other health problems, Laryngeal paralysis is most commonly seen in older Chis.
Nobody is exactly sure how this condition occurs, but when it does happen, it is very important to take your pup to the vet for a thorough check-up.
7. Kennel Cough
This health problem also goes by the name canine infectious tracheobronchitis, but it’s easier to call it kennel cough. It is an infection of the upper respiratory system and it is super-contagious.
Now, there’s a specific sign of kennel cough in all dogs – “honking”. Yes, your Chihuahua won’t sound like he’s choking. He will sound like a goose that is honking!
The good news is that this pesky flu-like condition is usually not as serious as other infections and can easily be treated with antibiotics.
So, make sure to take your goose.. I mean, Chihuahua, to the vet!
8. Canine Respiratory Infectious Disease
This is not one, but a whole set of respiratory illnesses that can affect your little Chi. It leaves him feeling a little stuffy, with a wet nose and watery eyes. Unproductive coughing that sounds like choking is also one of the symptoms.
One of the reasons why Chihuahuas may sound like choking is because these illnesses cause inflammation and/or irritation in the throat and airways, making it difficult for your dog to breathe normally.
In fact, your Chi may be mean to you because he is struggling to remove the irritation and becoming annoyed with it!
With proper treatment, all of this goes away! So, contacting your vet is the way to go.
9. Lung Problems
There are numerous lung problems that can affect Chihuahua dogs, from infections, parasitic infestations, lung cancers, to injuries.
But no matter what type of lung problem your Chi may be experiencing, it can lead to some pretty loud and confusing choking-like noises!
It is obvious that a dog that is affected by a certain lung problem does not have properly working lungs, which makes it difficult for them to catch a breath.
Chronic lung problems can seriously affect your Chi’s lifespan.
10. Heart Problems
When it comes to heart problems, they can also come in various types. From congestive heart failure, heartworm infestations, heart disease to simple arrhythmias.
Such heart issues can also cause various choking-like sounds that can be accompanied with other symptoms such as lethargy, restlessness, wheezing, and loss of appetite.
Your Chi may start licking you excessively as a sign of showing you that he is not feeling good.
Most of this is a result of chronic heart condition, but it is best to ask your veterinarian what might be the exact cause.
11. Understanding the Risks of Throat Cancer
Throat cancer does not choose which dog breed it will affect. Therefore, Chihuahuas are no exception.
This type of cancer can cause your Chi to sound like he’s choking, but it can also include signs like wheezing, coughing, and difficulties breathing. But it will also carry other signs like hair loss, lethargy, and loss of appetite, as the dog’s immune system becomes weakened.
Unfortunately, throat cancer in dogs can be difficult to detect in its early stages, and it is often diagnosed when noticeable symptoms have appeared. So, make sure to take your pup to regular check-ups.
Should I Be Worried If My Chihuahua Keeps Gagging?
Well it all depends on how often your Chihuahua sounds like he’s choking or gagging. It also depends on how rapidly this occurs.
Due to the fact that such behavior is weird and most healthy dogs do not exhibit it, it would be a good idea to take your Chi to the vet and have them do some thorough physical exams and diagnostic tests. After that, you will most likely get a treatment plan and some helpful professional advice on how to manage your pup.
Chihuahua choking sounds might not be anything serious, but it is important to check, just in case.
To Wrap It Up
From reverse sneezing to heart problems, there are many different reasons why a Chihuahua sounds like he’s choking.
These tiny dogs are amazing companions and we have to take care of them at all costs!
The good news is that with the right care and attention, many of these common problems can be treated with a little help from your veterinarian friend!