Why does my dog keep swallowing and gulping?

If your dog has started swallowing and gulping constantly, and it's starting to worry you, it might be time to get it checked out. First, though, why do dogs swallow and gulp, and should you be worried?

If your dog has been swallowing and gulping a lot, something could be wrong.
If your dog has been swallowing and gulping a lot, something could be wrong.  © Unsplash/Matthew Henry

Dogs have all kinds of strange, wacky, and wild habits that we all need to be well aware of as owners and humans.

After all, to keep our canine companions safe, we need to be well-informed, observant, and willing to make tough and expensive decisions for the safety and health of our beloved doggos.

So, is your dog swallowing and gulping all the time in a way that had not previously been the case? Using this dog guide, we'll take you through a few reasons why this might be the case, and what you can do about it.

Why does my dog keep gulping?

In almost all cases, gulping is a completely normal behavior for your dog to be exhibiting. Of course, such an answer is entirely dependent on the regularity and the nature of the gulps that we're talking about, though. Indeed, severe and repeated gulping can be a clear indicator of serious health issues that will need to be sorted out if you want to guarantee your dog a happy and long life.

Here are a number of reasons why your dog keeps gulping:

  • Health issues relating to disease and illness: There are an assortment of different health issues that can cause gulping. From basic stuff like colds and flu to more serious issues like throat cancer, gulping is just one of those symptoms that can fit into many a box.
  • Choking: If your dog suddenly and unexpectedly bursts into a fit of coughing and gulping, it may have swallowed its food wrong. Pay attention to see whether it's just a matter of a particularly chunky chunk being uncomfortable to swallow or if your perfect pooch is actually choking. In response, take appropriate action.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: We will discuss the main culprits in a little bit, but gastrointestinal issues are possibly the most common cause of increased gulping. Such conditions include acid reflux, often referred to as dog gulping disorder or "gulpies."
  • Anxiety, stress, and unhappiness: If your beloved dog is stressed and anxious and feeling super overwhelmed, it will likely start to gulp violently. If this is the case, follow our instructions for how to deal with dog anxiety and/or separation anxiety.
  • Excitement, happiness, good stuff: There are also many innocuous answers to the question of why your dog keeps gulping. Perhaps it has just had a good meal, is excited about something, or is just generally feeling good?

As always, this is not a complete list of all the possible reasons why your dog keeps gulping. As with everything, there is always more detail that we can go into. However, if your dog's gulping does not fit into any of the categories described, then something else could be afoot, and a trip to the vet could be needed.

Be extra cautious with any kind of health issue when it comes to your dog. Whenever it is behaving in a way that makes you uneasy, or is displaying unusual signs of stress or unhappiness, to the vet you should go.

Dog gulping acid reflux / Dog gulping syndrome

Acid reflux is a serious health issue that can affect both humans and dogs alike, with its common canine symptoms often being referred to as the "gulpies" or "Dog gulping syndrome." It is caused by a build-up of gas and/or stomach acid within the dog's digestive tract, often leading to a burning sensation in the chest and up through the neck (esophagus).

As a result of the unpleasant symptoms that your dog will experience - not only the burning, but a constant need to swallow or gulp, a rumbling tummy, and gagging - dogs with acid reflux will often get the "gulpies." This refers to the constant and overwhelming need for a dog to gulp and swallow.

If you are concerned about your dog having acid reflux, it's time to go to the vet. Depending on how bad this situation is, your vet will likely either prescribe various drugs, or order you to make certain changes to your doggo's diet to reduce the allergens causing the acidic buildup.

Whatever happens, please don't freak out. While unpleasant, acid reflux isn't going to kill your pup, just make it very unhappy. Get it sorted, but don't worry too much.

Acid reflux can be very unpleasant for both dogs and humans.
Acid reflux can be very unpleasant for both dogs and humans.  © Unsplash/Ryan Walton

My dog keeps swallowing: Why?

If your dog is swallowing a lot rather than gulping, it could indicate that something is stuck in its throat. This doesn't necessarily mean that it is choking, mind you, and could indicate something as minor as a little bit of pollen that's slightly irritating the inside of its throat. Still, it's best to check.

It's best to start investigating by guaranteeing that it isn't choking, as this can be fatal. After you have done this, check its mouth for anything stuck into a gum or elsewhere that could be causing the unpleasant symptoms that it is experiencing. If you find nothing and the symptoms continue, it's time to go to the vet.

Another possible cause of excess swallowing is that your dog is producing far too much saliva and needs to process it somehow. If it also drools, this can be another clear sign that this is the issue. There are many possible causes of such a phenomenon, so it's best to get it checked out professionally.

It might seem like we're flogging a dead horse, but there really isn't much we can say except, "If you're worried, go to the vet." It's just the sensible thing to do, and no knowledge we can share with you can ever cut the mustard in comparison.

Important: Pretty much all the same explanations for why dogs compulsively gulp can also explain why a dog might be swallowing all the time. Get both into your head and apply the same thought processes we have already discussed.

Dog keeps licking the air

If your dog is licking the air, it might be able to smell something you can't.
If your dog is licking the air, it might be able to smell something you can't.  © Unsplash/FLOUFFY

Your dog's tongue is laced with a number of highly sensitive buds that are capable of quite literally tasting the air. As a result, if your dog is licking the air, it is likely because it can smell something you can't. This is no cause for alarm, of course, because there are many smell differences between humans and doggos, most of which may warrant a doggy air-lick.

Other possible causes of air-licking include anxiety, upset stomachs, and pretty much all the different things that your dog would also be gulping as a result of. Keep that in mind, and make sure to look for other symptoms that could help you determine the possible causes of this strange behavior.

Try not to worry if your dog keeps gulping and swallowing

If your dog keeps gulping and swallowing and has started behaving in all sorts of weird and wacky ways, something could be wrong. The thing is - it is also possible that something might not be wrong, so there's no real reason to panic. Instead, observe the symptoms, think about the possible causes, and take your dog to a medical professional as soon as possible.

This is fundamentally the most important and best thing that you can do in any worrying or potentially dangerous situation. Never leave things up in the air and, instead, go to the vet and make sure that your doggo is okay. Sure, it's expensive, but it'll keep your dog happy and healthy.

Cover photo: Unsplash/Matthew Henry

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