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Avatar universal

Gulping and possible throat spasms

My Wheaton Terrier, now 2 yrs old, has had recurring episodes since she was a puppy where she will start gulping madly and I can hear a clicking noise like her throat is having spasms or something like that. She has what I would consider a large adams apple or voice box, whatever that large lump in a dogs throat is!!! I feel really bad for her. When this happens during the day she begs to go outside and when she does, she will eat leaves, vines or grass...anything she can get ahold of. At night she will stay in her bed, but I will hear the clicking and her gulping for a long time. Usually when she has an episode she will have it again several times over the next day or so. What could explain this?
19 Responses
462827 tn?1333172552
Hello & welcome to the forum....My first thought is a "Reverse Sneeze"....Very common in small dogs & Harmless......You may want to google it and see if it fits what your hearing...

My second thought is "Collapsing Trachea" because of the clicking you describe.....Google that one, too....It's fairly common and there are medications (From your Vet) for this, to help ease the episodes......

Let me know what you think & good luck......Karla
Avatar universal
Thanks Karla! I am very familiar with reverse sneeze and this is much different. Its like a hiccup that has gone wild. I will look up the collapsed trachea but I think I did read up on that and it didnt match either. My poodle mix seems to have a bit of that and it makes him cough. The wheaton is gulping and gags a bit too. It happens randomly and in spells. Thanks again
462827 tn?1333172552
I read alot about dog's that have Acid Reflux....They will gag, lick & smack constantly......I personally think it's more of a stomach/digestion issue....You might try adding Yogurt (Unflavored) to her meals & a snack before bed......The snack should be a dry biscuit or the likes......The claim is that the dry biscuit will absorb the stomach acid as opposed to anything wet.....

I don't understand the clicking other than a Trachea Collapsing.....My Vet explained to me that it's much like sucking on a straw that is clogged.....It does kinda click as you try to get anything through it, but it collapses.....Did that make sense?

Because she runs out to eat grass and other tid-bits, it sounds still like a
stomach or digestion issue......

Many people use Pepcid (The Human Antacid)  with their Vet's approval.....The dose of course would be by weight, but it may be worth trying.....

The Gulping & gagging could also be Sinus Drainage.......The sinuses drain down the back of the throat & cause the dog to gag on the fluids.....Does what your describing happen year round or is it at certain times? It's my understanding that all the drainage goes to the stomach and causes Nausea (Like Humans)....In this case, an Antihistamine (Like Benadryl) would be used....Could the clicking be a nostril that's clogged & then opens?

Maybe others will come by to offer suggestions......I'm hoping what I've listed here may at least give you some things to think about....... Karla
675347 tn?1365464245
Just a thought....bu to me it sounds like it could be a nausea issue. It may not be of course, that's only my thoughts about it.
I'm wondering if there could be some "catch-22" situation going on here....for instance, perhaps your dog felt queasy one day, dashed into the garden, chewed on something unsuitable in a fast dash for grass(such as vines garden plants or ivy) which made the situation worse? And it set up a cycle?
Avatar universal
Food for thought, she does sometimes suffer from unexplained nausea. throws up repeatedly for a day or two then back to normal. I always give the dogs a bisquit before bed but maybe i will look into the yogurt idea or give her some pepto next time this happens and see if it stops the cycle. Its worth a try:)
1832268 tn?1326819610
See if she will eat a Tums.
Also, I had a boxer that would start to gulp. She would frantically try to find anything Green that she could eat. She would even go so far as to eat my plastic houseplants...!  I figured out that she was trying to fix herself the best way she knew how, so I purchased some "cat grass" from the local pet store.
Whenever she would start to gulp, I would offer her some of the cat grass.
She would eat it as fast as I could cut it and give it to her.
Within 15 minutes after eating it, she would stop gulping. She would settle down and seemed content for hours afterward.
The grass is Avena Sativa...."Wild Oats"
I don't know why it helps, but I can tell you that it did help my dog..
You can purchase the oat seed online, and it is very inexpensive.
The cat grass can also be purchased at Pet stores like Petco.
Most pet store employees will know what you are talking about if you ask for cat grass.
Good luck with your dog....I hope the reason for her nausea is nothing more than indigestion.
Best wishes...Connie
Avatar universal
Well, I took the board's recommendation and have been giving her an acid reducer daily and it has helped a lot. I think we have only had one or two mini  episodes since starting and I gave her a tums when she started the last time and that seemed to stop it. I guess she has acid reflux! I really thought some major thing was wrong with her but this is manageable and she looks forward to her pill in cream cheese each morning! Thanks everyone!
Avatar universal
How is your dog doing?  I had a 4 year old wheaten and she was doing this on/off for about 10 months.  I tried the pepcid and even changed her diet and put her on benadryl thinking it was allergy related.  It ended up being focal seizures.  I put her down, because the meds for seizures are very hard on a dogs body.  How has your dog been doing with the pepcid?
Avatar universal
oh, how sad. I am so sorry for your loss, you must be devastated. My girl has improved drastically with the antacids. she sometimes has an episode but so less frequent. I am not sure what triggers them with her. She had one a few days ago and I feel like it started when she got nervous about something that I can't even remember now! Its like her system got out of whack and it took a long time to get back to normal. I gave her a second dose of the acid reducer and after a while she stopped doing the gulping thing. I will look up focal siezures. I have never heard of that.
Avatar universal
Our dog Hines had terrible gulping and swalling episodes as well for over a year. During the episodes he would bloat way up, get nauseous and try to eat things, and was clearly suffering. We treated every conceivable GI issue we could think of. He was taking Prilosec, and prescription nausea medication, Gas-x, and prescription food, all to little or no effect.

Finally, we got to treating it as a neurological problem (seizures). At the time, Zonisamide was a relatively new drug in the veterinary field, with far fewer side effects than old seizure meds. It has worked like a charm with no side effects. His episodes went from occurring every two weeks to occurring only twice in the past year.

I wrote about the experience, with video of his episodes, on my blog to help others: http://www.jasonbk.com/2014/02/hiness-gulping-a-cautionary-tale/
Avatar universal
My German Shepherd just had his second episode of what I will refer to as a tracheal spasm.  It is like very fast hiccups with licking and at times he would bite at the carpet like he wanted to eat grass.  The first episode was  one year and three days ago.  Both episodes started after 10:30 PM.  The first time I wasted $500.00 at the emergency vets, with no answers.  He was done with the episode by the time I got him to the vet.  I always worry about bloat, which is why I took him to the vet with the first episode.
I just got off the phone talking to another vet I know and she had no answers either.
Avatar universal
My dachshund is 5 months old and having an episode. I thought she was choking or something was stuck in her throat. It has been going on for 2 hours. The only time it stops is when she is asleep or relaxed. I'm not sure what it is but I feel bad for her. This reading has helped a lot. Thank you
Avatar universal
My dog is almost 6 now! Intermittently she has those episodes still but not as bad as before. I still am not completely sold on it being reflux but it did seem to help to give her omeprazole or similar acid reducers. I hope your baby is doing OK!
Avatar universal
Our Wheaten is about the same age as yours, twodogsinRI, and she has also had this recurring problem over the years. For her it seems to come on if she gets too excited about something too soon after eating, though it can come on for seemingly no reason at all on occasion. I've never done anything about it except try to calm her down and the episodes tend to end after a spell, but she seems so uncomfortable while it's going on I'd love to give her a Tums or something if that would actually work. Do you give your dog a whole one? Sadie is a pretty small Wheaten (less than 40 lbs).
Avatar universal
I found something that seems to work for my dog. My dog is a mix Boxer and Rottweiler. Probably about 90 lbs. and she too has had episodes like this.  Just had one last night.   She will continuously lick and do hard gulps.   She threw up twice last night because of it.  And she threw up a lot of food both times.  She kept running to the grass and just would franticly start chowing down on it.  It is really had to watch her go through this.
Now, I do think it is acid reflux.  Reason is, what I have found that seems to work the best so far is Pepto Bismol.  The one we have is cherry flavored so she doesn't like it at all. So what we do is crush it up and put it in a little milk in her bowl. Just a thin layer of milk in her bowl. Not a lot.  She loves the milk and because of that, eats the Pepto Bismol right up.  But because of this, I really do think it is acid reflux.  The only other thing I think it might be is an allergic reaction to her food.  
Either way, I don't think it is seizures or a neurological problem like I have read on other posts.  So before any of you spend thousands, try the Pepto Bismol.  We had to give her two Pepto Bismol pills yesterday because she threw up a little while after we gave her the first one.  But once I gave her the second one, that seemed to do the trick.  I hope this post helps someone that reads this.
Avatar universal
I am also in RI and I have a two year old wheaten with the same problem! its scary to listen to! sometimes during a bad episode he vomits and shakes. did you see a local vet about this? does your wheaten suffer from any other allergies?
Avatar universal
I have a 12 year old Polish Lowland Sheepdog who has had 2 of these throat spasm episodes where he was gulping & licking to the point of vomiting up undigested food. The most recent episode was on Jan 20. I since then started feeding him 3 small meals a day instead of 2 meals. I also started giving him a powdered enzyme on top of his food a tablespoon of coconut oil mix in. So far no gulping or vomiting episodes.
Avatar universal
Everyone should go ask their vet about CERENIA! this is a drug usually given to dog for motion sickness. We only found out about it after taking our dog to the emergency vet and they injected him with fluid and this was in it. It only comes in a pack of 4 and costs us around $20. this is not a preventative, but if you give it to them at the onset of an episode (we give ours in a piece of cheese) the episode stops within 10-20 minutes. We still have no answers as to what causes this problem, but we are so thankful to have found a med that can calm our sweet boy and bring him out of it. We don't think it's any type of seizure, but we have not had any luck with antacids or benadryl. His episodes are completely random.

Avatar universal
I know this is an old thread, but my 2 year old Wheaten is currently experiencing his first episode. It’s exactly as you described. We will try an antacid and hope for the best. Thanks for your advice!
How is your wheaten doing?  I also have a wheaten 13 and has had these episodes all his life.  I do pepcid AC, but sometimes it doesn't work for the gulping.  Trying an antihistamine because he sounds congested.
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