Your cart is currently empty.
Dog Coughs After Drinking Water: A Vet Explains Possible Causes and Solutions - PawSafe

Dog Coughs After Drinking Water: A Vet Explains Possible Causes and Solutions

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

dog coughs after drinking water

Have you ever noticed your canine coughing right after taking a sip of water? It’s quite a common sight for dog owners, but it often leaves us wondering, “Is this normal?” or “Should I be worried?” 

As a professional dog behaviorist and trainer with dog  that love to play in water, I’ve seen many puppies sputtering after gulping down water. This is common on a hot day after exercising. But in this article, we’re going to dive into the reasons that this happens.

Drawing from the extensive research of Dr. Fuentes and her colleagues on dog and puppy heart and breathing issues, we’ll explore why some dogs cough after drinking water.  We will also look at what you, as their guardian, can do to ensure they are not in danger and stay healthy.

One reason is just that cold water can cause spasms in the throat muscles, leading to coughing. Try offering your dog room temperature or slightly warm water to see if that helps.

Dr. Ned Fuentes writes that most times a dog has a cough there is no reason to worry. Even if a dog has kennel cough, kennel cough, it’s usually “self-limiting,”  meaning it goes away on its own. However, Dr. Fuentes notes that if the coughing keeps going for a few weeks, it may be tracheobronchitis. This is where all the upper airways are infected and inflamed. 

When the upper airways are inflamed and irritated, and your dog drinks water, the water can irritate the throat (esophagus) and cause coughing.  This is especially true if it is cold water. In this case, you’ll need to see a vet, Dr. Fuentes warns that it could become chronic bronchitis or pneumonia, especially in older dogs.

Below is a video of a dog coughing while trying to drink water, that could be because the Golden Retriever is drinking too fast, or because they have an underlying medical problem.

But let’s delve into the many reasons dogs may make a hacking sound after drinking.

Possible Reasons Canines Cough After Drinking Water

Coughing after drinking water is common in puppies and adult dogs, and it can happen for various reasons. In this section, we’ll explore some of the causes of dog coughs and what you can do to help your pup.

1. Drinking Too Fast

When dogs drink water too quickly, they may inhale air along with the water. This can lead to coughing, especially if the air and water enter the trachea instead of the esophagus. Drinking too fast can also lead to your dog snorting like a pig or their stomach gurgling. It is also very common in puppies who tend to do everything too fast.

When your dog drinks too much water, it could also be polydipsia, which could be a sign of medical issues like diabetes.

To prevent gulping in your dog, use a slow-feed bowl or place a large object in their water dish to slow their drinking. You can also give your dog smaller amounts of water more frequently throughout the day.

Puppy coughing from water

2. Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse is a condition that affects the windpipe. 

The trachea is made from cartilage rings that keep the throat open so that air can go  through to the lungs. In dogs with tracheal collapse, the cartilage rings weaken and lose shape, causing the trachea to collapse inward. This can lead to coughing, gagging, and difficulty breathing.

Tracheal collapse is more common in small breed dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Yorkshire Terriers. Various factors, including genetics, obesity, and airway infections, can cause it. Sometimes, drinking water too quickly can trigger a coughing episode in dogs with this issue.

If your dog has been diagnosed with tracheal collapse, there are several things you can do to manage their symptoms. These include:

  • Feeding them smaller, more frequent meals to reduce the amount of air they swallow;
  • Using a harness instead of a collar can put pressure on the trachea and exacerbate coughing;
  • Using a slow drinker water bowl;
  • Keeping them at a healthy weight reduces the strain on their airways and lungs; and
  • Avoiding activities that can cause excitement and heavy panting, which can trigger coughing episodes.

In severe cases of tracheal collapse, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem. However, lifestyle changes and medication can manage most dogs with mild to moderate tracheal collapse.

3. Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is a condition that affects a dog’s larynx or voice box. This condition can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, and other symptoms. In one study by NCBI, 19% of dogs with a cough had laryngeal paralysis or weakness of the muscles without any other signs of an infected larynx. 

When a dog with this issue drinks water too quickly, it can cause the larynx to spasm. This can lead to temporary larynx paralysis, making breathing difficult for the dog. This condition is more common in older dogs and can be exacerbated by underlying medical conditions.

4. Diseases of The Esophagus

The esophagus is essentially the dog’s throat, and when it is irritated, or there is something stuck in it, then anything your dog swallows can make them cough. In fact, it may even be a kind of acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) that is pushing water back up after your dog swallows it.

Megaesophagus is a condition that occurs when the esophagus becomes enlarged and loses its ability to push food down to the stomach. As a result, food and water can accumulate in the throat, causing coughing and regurgitation (when food and water is pushed back up from the stomach).

Other diseases affecting the esophagus include:

  • Tumors; 
  • Infections; 
  • Allergic reactions or irritations to something like smoke, pollen, or dust; and
  • Foreign objects lodged in the throat.

5. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is an airway disease that results in the inflammation of the trachea. It is highly contagious and is often passed between dogs in close quarters, such as kennels or dog parks. It can be caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses, including Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus, and canine parainfluenza virus.

Symptoms may include a dry, hacking cough, gagging, and retching. A study shows that stress, extreme temperatures, and humidity can make it worse. Because the upper airways are inflamed and infected, swallowing water can irritate the airways, causing coughing.

If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, isolate them from other animals and inform your vet to give a way forward. Treatment may include antibiotics and cough suppressants if the infection has progressed to pneumonia.

To prevent kennel cough, make sure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations and avoid exposing them to other dogs who may be sick. If you take your dog to a kennel or dog park, ensure the facility has proper sanitation measures in place to prevent the spread of disease.

6. Foreign Items and Irritations in The Throat Or Water

Sometimes, dogs can cough after drinking due to foreign items or irritations in their throat or water. These can include:

  • Dust, dirt, or other particles in the water bowl like grass;
  • Mold or bacteria in the water bowl or on the dog’s tongue;
  • Hair or other debris in the dog’s throat;
  • Allergies to certain substances in the water or environment; and
  • Infections or illnesses that affect the respiratory system.

Keep their water bowl clean to prevent foreign items and irritants in the dog’s water. This can be done by washing the bowl daily with soap and water and rinsing it thoroughly. Using a water filter or providing bottled water can also help reduce the risk of contaminants.

7. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

BOAS is a condition that affects dogs with short snouts, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers. These dogs often have breathing difficulties that can make drinking water normally a problem. The condition is caused by a number of factors, including:

  • The shape of the dog’s skull;
  • The length of their soft palate; and
  • The size of their nostrils.

Symptoms of BOAS can include coughing, gagging, and difficulty breathing, especially during exercise or when the dog is excited after drinking water, when the water goes down the wrong pipe in the throat. In severe cases, the dog could collapse or have trouble getting enough oxygen, which can be life-threatening.

Treatment for BOAS can include surgery to widen the dog’s nostrils or shorten their soft palate. In some cases, exercise to lose weight can also help to relieve symptoms. It’s important to note that not all dogs with BOAS require surgery, and treatment will depend on the severity of their symptoms.

Absolutely, here’s a casual yet informative section on hypoplastic trachea:

Hypoplastic Trachea: A Less-Known Cause of Coughing in Dogs

If your dog eagerly laps up water, but then starts coughing. While we often think they might have just drunk too fast, sometimes the reason can be a bit more complex, like a condition called hypoplastic trachea.

Simply put, a hypoplastic trachea is when a dog’s windpipe, or trachea, is a bit narrower than usual. It’s like trying to drink a thick milkshake through a narrow straw – not so easy, right?

This condition is more common in some small breeds, especially the ones with shorter noses. When these dogs drink water, their narrow trachea makes it harder for them to get the water down smoothly, leading to that coughing fit we sometimes see.

While it sounds concerning, the good news is that many dogs with this condition live perfectly happy lives. However, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet if you notice your dog coughing frequently, just to make sure everything’s okay.

8. Heart Disease, Failure, and Heartworm

Heart disease is any disease that causes the heart to weaken, making it difficult to pump blood effectively. This can lead to heart failure and a build-up of fluid in the lungs and dogs will  usually cough when they lay down, but you may also hear hacking sounds after eating and drinking.

Heartworm is another potential cause of coughing in dogs transmitted by mosquitoes. This parasite lives in the blood vessels to the heart and lungs, where they grow into adult worms. At least 70 species of mosquitoes can transmit the disease, and a decrease or an increase in the number of worms in the hearts can lead to the animals’ health deteriorating.

How the worms affect the dog is determined by the number of worms in their heart or lungs, their immune system, and the duration of the infection. Study shows that small dogs cannot tolerate heartworms due to their small blood vessels that cannot withstand the worms without their vessels being blocked or damaged. 

To know if your dog has heartworm, check out for signs such as 

  • Coughing;
  • Weight loss;
  • Lethargy; and
  • Difficulty breathing.

If you suspect your dog has heart disease or heartworm, it’s essential to take them to the vet for a check-up. Your vet may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays, ultrasounds, or blood tests to determine the cause of your dog’s coughing.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

Watch out for these signs to help you determine if your dog’s cough is a sign of a more severe health issue.

Excessive Coughing

If your dog is coughing more than usual or is persistent, it could be a sign of a airway or throat infection or other health issue.

Gagging or Choking

A dog trying to clear their throat and appears to be gagging or choking could be a sign that something is stuck in their throat, such as a foreign object. This can be a serious issue and should be addressed promptly.

Difficulty Breathing

When your canine friend coughs and has difficulty breathing, it could be a sign of pneumonia, heart disease, or other breathing or throat issues.

It is essential to understand what is causing it since it could be a reaction to hot temperatures or excitement.

Lethargy or Loss of Appetite

A dog is coughing while drinking water and appears to be lethargic or has a loss of appetite, which can be a sign of a respiratory infection or other health issue that requires a vet.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

A Pug dog struggling to drink from a glass of water

Coughing may be a minor irritation that will resolve on its own. However, there are times when a vet is necessary.

Here are some signs that you should seek medical help:

  • The cough is persistent and doesn’t go away after a few days;
  • Your dog is having difficulty breathing or seems to be struggling to catch their breath;
  • They are coughing up blood or have a significant amount of mucus;
  • Your dog is not eating or drinking normally; and
  • They are lethargic or seem to be in pain.

Preventive Measures

To prevent your dog from coughing when they drink water, we recommend the following measures:

Use a raised water bowl

A raised water bowl can help reduce the air your dog swallows while drinking, which can lead to coughing. You can find raised water bowls at most pet stores.

Slow down your dog’s drinking

If your dog tends to drink water too quickly, try using a slow feeder bowl or placing a few ice cubes in their water dish to slow them down.

Keep your dog hydrated

Dehydration can lead to coughing, so make sure your dog has access to plenty of clean, fresh water throughout the day.

Avoid feeding your dog immediately before or after exercise

Feeding your dog too close to exercise can increase the risk of bloating and coughing, so try to wait at least an hour before activity.

Monitor your dog’s diet

Some dogs may be sensitive to specific ingredients in their food, treats, or drinks, which can lead to coughing. If you notice your dog coughing after eating or drinking something specific, try eliminating it from their diet.

Following these preventive measures can help reduce the risk of your dog coughing when they drink water.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my dog cough after drinking water and eating?

Dogs may cough after drinking water or eating too quickly, which can cause them to inhale water or food particles into their lungs. This can lead to aspiration pneumonia, which is a severe condition that requires immediate medical attention.

What causes a dog to gag after drinking water?

Gagging after drinking water can be caused by various factors, including a foreign object lodged in the throat, an infection, or a breathing issue. If your dog is gagging frequently after drinking water, it is crucial to get to a vet.

How do I help my husky stop coughing when they are drinking water?

If your husky is coughing after or when they are drinking water, it may be helpful to slow their drinking by using a slow-feed bowl or providing smaller amounts more frequently. Additionally, ensuring that your husky is up to date on their vaccinations and parasite prevention can help prevent airway infections that can cause coughing.

What should I do if my dog collapses after drinking water?

If your dog collapses after drinking water, it is crucial to see a vet. This can indicate a severe underlying condition, such as heart disease or an allergic reaction.

Why is my dog coughing like something is stuck in his throat?

Coughing that sounds like something is stuck in the throat can be a sign of a airway infection, allergies, or a foreign object lodged in the throat. If your dog is coughing persistently, it may be time to have your dog be checked out by a vet.

What does a cough from heartworm sound like in dogs?

A cough from heartworm disease in dogs may sound moist or wet, accompanied by difficulty breathing and fatigue.


If your dog is coughing when drinking water, it could be a sign of a airway infection, allergies, or a result of drinking too quickly.

It’s essential to monitor your dog’s behavior and note any other symptoms they may be experiencing. If the coughing persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian.

Always provide fresh, clean water for your canine and monitor their health and behavior. You can help your dog stay happy and healthy with proper care and attention.


Meet Your Experts

Avatar of author

Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.