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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 10853
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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Murphy our almost 2 yr old boxer started heaving on his walk

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Murphy our almost 2 yr old boxer started heaving on his walk this morning for about 2 minutes but it was unproductive. After a minute or so he was ok. Did it again this afternoon briefly but carried on chasing round like a lunatic. He's eating and drinking and doesn't seem bothered. He's had all his injections including kennel cough and doesn't see other dogs.

Hello Sylvia, I'm Dr. Deb. Thanks for requesting me; I'll do my best to help you today.

I'm sorry for this concern for Murphy. I do have a few additional questions to ask first if you don't mind:

1. I know it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between attempts to cough or attempt to vomit, but which one do you think it might be?
2. He ate afterward and hasn't vomit anything?
3. Does he chew on sticks or rawhides or anything rough?

4. No sneezing either, I assume?

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
It looked like he was trying to vomit. He has eaten since and drunk as normal. He's not distressed, that's just me! He's a tall slim boxer not overweight. No sneezing. Yes, he's a stick fanatic and also sometimes has a chewy rawhide bone but not for a couple of days. I should mention that my husband walks him by attaching his lead to his collar but I always use a halti head collar. Could it have been pressure on his throat as it happened just after he was off the lead?

Thanks for the additional information.

I can understand why you might think he was trying to vomit...and perhaps he was...but usually bile, mucous, food or something is brought up. Since his retching was non-productive and he's eaten and drunk with not issues, then this may not be too terribly concerning behavior.

However, it's possible that he has irritated his esophagus or the back of his throat with the various and sundry objects on which he chews; such irritation could explain the behavior that you saw. Increased pressure on his trachea might also be responsible if he was pulling really hard on the leash.

I've also seen a few dogs in the early phases of kennel cough or tracheobronchitis act this way, too, but the behavior usually continues or worsens within another day or so.
My theory is that post-nasal drip is causing irritation which triggers this behavior.
Even though he's been vaccinated for kennel cough and doesn't have contact with other dogs, he could still develop this condition. The vaccine only protects against the most common cause of Bordatella (which is a bacterial infection). Kennel cough can also be caused by viruses as well or different strains of Bordatella, if this makes sense.
We can also bring home these pathogens on our clothes or shoes.
In other words, vaccinated dogs aren't 100% protected from developing kennel cough.

Since he's otherwise acting just fine, I'd not be too worried about him but I would feed softer foods as opposed to any dry, hard kibble which may further irritate the throat and esophagus.
I might consider over the counter Benadryl which can help to dry up secretions if post-nasal drip issues are present. The dose is 1 mg/lb twice a day although sedation can be seen.

I'm not certain that I'd give him over the counter Omeprazole although you could if you wanted which might help if any nausea was present. The dose would be 1/2 mg/lb once a day.

I hope this helps to at least reassure you that nothing terribly serious is likely to be going on. Deb

Dr. Deb and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Thanks for the rating; it's greatly appreciated.

And, best of luck with Murphy. Regards, Deb

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