why does my dog gag when laying down, and choke and shake while sleeping?
My dog Diesel, is a 5 month old Bulldog mix. We believe he is mixed with boxer, but are not sure. He is 5 months old and is weighing 20 lbs. Still underweight, but when we first got him for free (from an accidental litter) you could see his hips, tail, and had bones, along with his ribs.
It was terrible. He usually didn't play, but slept all day. We got a puppy recently - a rat terrier mix that is 10 weeks old, worm free , and has his first set of shots. Diesel has had his first round as well, and has been dewormed. Since the puppy he is more lovey and active and a normal pup to say! However, 5 days ago he started eating dog feces, from our healthy puppy, and recently, 2 days ago, my husband took him to the park, where a stranger informed us Deisel was eating poop from other dogs.
For the last 3 days when he is at rest laying down he has been gagging. To induce gagging we made him drink warm salt water, but he would not throw up. We took off his collar assuming it was too tight. That was not the problem. I woke up saturday to his heavy breathing and his eyes literally throbbing out of his head like they were to pop out! i woke him up and it seized.
Whenever he sleeps and gets into deep sleep he grunts and twitches as usual, but then he starts to shake violently and right after the shaking he sticks his tongue between his teeth and starts to choke. We wake him up in time everytime and he acts like nothing was wrong. We are scared to let him go to sleep, and last night's episode went from the violent shaking to twitching facial expression then too head tremor like movement as though it was a seizure before he began to choke.
I do not believe it is a seizure because the moment we touch him he wakes up. What is wrong with him? He is healthy as well as the puppy and when he is a wake he acts perfectly normally which is better than usual,, since he used to be a very depressed and sleepy dog. His food and water are always within reach and he has 24 hour access to them both and quite a healthy appetite. What could this be?
I'm afraid I'm not a veterinarian and this is a situation where you most definitely need a vet's input to figure out what's going on with Diesel.
From what you describe it doesn't sound like a true seizure because he can wake up instantly, and the symptoms only occur when he's asleep. However, what it is I can't say.
In humans, sleep apnea is caused by either the tongue blocking the throat or by the collapse of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. I'm not sure if dogs can suffer from the same thing but it almost sounds as though Diesel could be experiencing something similar. Bulldogs have very shortened muzzles and often have breathing difficulties because of that, and other malformed breathing 'apparatus'.
I very strongly recommend that you get him to your veterinarian for a thorough check up immediately and that you explain what's going on because it sounds to me as though this could be very dangerous to Diesel's health.
The poop-eating is a fairly common habit in young puppies, but as Diesel didn't do this before it could possibly have been triggered by stress at the new puppy's arrival, or just the proximity of another puppy's stools! You can check out my Why Does My Dog Eat Poop? page to learn more about dealing with this habit.
Apart from the 'yuk' factor here, Diesel is at risk of catching one of the serious, contagious dog illnesses that puppies are susceptible to because he's not had all his puppy shots. One set of shots provides almost no protection and if he's around other dogs, and especially as he's eating their stools (which is how many diseases are transmmitted) you need to get him up to date with his vaccinations asap.
I hope this helps and wish you lots of luck with your puppies. Please make sure Diesel gets evaluated by your vet right away.