Q. Our 3-year-old Havanese Bella has excess mucus and is retching. She has only vomited once or twice, but keeps sounding like she has a cough with gagging. Can you help?
A. Often, retching and vomiting in dogs are related more to respiratory disease than to stomach or intestinal disease.
To tell the difference, observe your dog carefully for how the retching begins. If it starts with a cough or gagging sound, it is most likely a sign of an upper respiratory infection, even if there is a large amount of vomit produced.
If the gagging starts with abdominal contractions or full-body heaving, this is most likely “true” vomiting. If it is occasional, most likely it is a sign of an irritated or inflamed stomach. If it continues, have your veterinarian check out Bella. There are at least 63 causes of vomiting in dogs, and it will take a good physical exam, history, and some detective work for your veterinarian to figure it out.