I’ve found a way to stop my dog’s gulping attacks and wanted to share what I do, in the hope that it might also work with other dogs. My dog has been having these gulping episodes a few times a year, where he also frantically starts licking the floor. I used to race him to the ER, but since they’ve yet to figure out a cause/treatment, I started trying different things to see if I could find a way to stop them myself, and by golly, it looks like I have! I recently discovered that when I distract my dog, he momentarily stops gulping/licking, and when I keep him distracted and calm for 10-20 min, I find the episode has resolved. It’s worked three times now!
The first thing I do is place a small amount of water in his food bowl, with two cooked peas (his favorite), which forces him to lap up most of the water in order to get to them. My reason for doing this is in case he’s got a hair irritating his esophagus, causing him to gulp, it’ll wash it down. I honestly don’t think this is the case, but I start with this anyway, as I’ve yet to figure out what causes these episodes. Then I lay down next to him and get/keep his attention by using a soothing low voice to weave all the words he knows, like – go for a ride in the car, squirrels, doggy, ball, good boy, sleepy … into one long nonsensical monologue or lullaby, and as he’s cocking his head back and forth listening, I slowly run one hand gently down the length of his throat repeatedly (to relax it), while using my other hand to pet his favorite spot. I don’t know if what I’m doing to his throat actually does anything, or if it’s just the act of getting him to relax that does, but this combo works for us! He had another attack that I was able to stop last night, and since I know so many others also have dogs with these gulping attacks, I wanted to share this.
I hope this works for someone else, as well!
You may have to do this for an hour or so, but it beats a trip to the ER. Just keep soothing and distracting him until the gulping has stopped, and then keep at it for a little while longer to make sure they don’t come back. Good luck!
It is so wonderful (albeit somewhat sad) to hear others talk about the gulping! I have talked to Boone’s vets for many years about this to no avail. He has also been scoped, x-rayed, etc. Nothing found out of the ordinary. But these gulping episodes continue. It can be once or twice a year, or every few months. Stress and excitement to be the main cause, although Boone has always had a touchy GI. Once he starts it can get so bad I have to leash him to me or he’ll lick the floors in the entire house, or worse. It’s happened where I have come home and he has eaten dangerous things like a 1.5″ thick rubber mat. Bedding, clothing, leashes, anything he can get his mouth on is ingested. Now if I leave him he in gated in the laundry room with no bed or blankets or anything he could eat (unless he chews the walls… which would not totally surprise me). Once he ate so much blanket, that a week later he threw up a ball of blanket that was the size of a small game hen. Scary. I have had to use hydrogen peroxide on him on several occasion because he grabbed something and ate it before I realized what was happening. It can happen in an instant and impossible to keep my eyes on him every minute, though I do try.
This has radically changed our life as the episodes have become more intense with age. I can’t leave him with anyone unless they watch him every moment, I can only leave him unattended in a room set up specifically for this issue, and I even hesitate to take him in the truck anymore, since he can (and has) eat the seats in the few moments that I might be in the store. Or… he might be fun. But it’s risky.
We could go months and no episodes, but when it does it’s dangerous for him. It sounds like many of you know exactly what this is like… they are frantic, incessantly licking and gulping and coughing. It’s so terrible. Boone gulps air of course and then I can hear his stomach making noise from it.
Sometimes I am able to distract him, taking him for a walk, feeding him something soft like rice, playing a game, gently stroking his neck and talking to him about good things until he relaxes. But other times none of this works at all and we’re in it for the long haul, just making sure he doesn’t hurt himself.
Boone has always been a bit high stress, has separation anxiety, and needs a lot of exercise. Exercise and being tired helps but only to a point. He is also a bit OCD, in that once he locks in on something it is very difficult to change his mind. For this reason, I believe that mostly the episodes are triggered by anxiety, but again, he has had some stomach issues and I am thinking about what I can have on hand that some of you have mentioned that might help. For sure once he’s begun this behavior it would help to be able to give him something to calm his stomach, if not his brain.
It just feels comforting to be able to read your stories and know that we’re not alone with this complex and bewildering behavior. It so upsetting to not be able to know how to help. If only love could fix everything! 🙂
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