Dog Throws Up After Drinking Water


If you have noticed that your dog throws up, spits up, or coughs after drinking, it may or may not require veterinary care. Factors include what your dog is doing, how often it occurs, and if your dog is showing any other concerning signs or symptoms.

Vomiting vs. Regurgitation or Cough


A cough is similar to a human cough. If you dog coughs right after drinking, it results in a spray of some droplets, but it sounds like a cough.


Regurgitation occurs when the water shoots back out of your dog's mouth and throat. There is no warning and it looks like your dog held the water in his mouth and then spit it out.


Vomiting is an active process and will be preceded by abdominal contractions that can be seen. The water will be vomited up after heaving. See a veterinarian if your dog is vomiting along with other signs of illness or continues to vomit after initially vomiting the water.

Slow Down or Stop Chugging When Drinking Water

Regurgitation or coughing is often caused by drinking too much water too fast. Speed causes the dog to not swallow the water correctly. Thge result is transient irritation to the throat tissues and to the upper gastrointestinal tract (GI). Gulping water when panting after exercise can also cause some water being aspirated into the lungs and trachea. Water aspiration will trigger a dough reflex to get the water out of the trachea.

To slow down the chugging, offer smaller amounts of water. Wait several minutes before offering more water. Other options are a slow-feeder water bowl. You can also put a ball in the water bowl that your dog has to work around. Another option is to add water to the dog food and offer less water, but frequently other times of the day.

Causes of a Dog Throwing Up After Drinking Water

Collapsing Trachea

The most common cause in toy dog breeds is a collapsing trachea. This occurs when the rigid cartilage rings of the trachea or able to fold in on themselves. The dog will then cough due to the irritation and as an effort to pop the trachea back open again. Dogs with this condition often cough when they are pulling against their collars or are excited. 

Dogs with this condition should wear a harness. Treatment includes sedatives, weight loss (if required), and cough suppressant medications.

Laryngeal Abnormalities

The larynx includes arytenoid cartilages also known as the vocal cords. The vocal cords snap shut when a dog swallows, keeping water and food from going down the trachea and getting into the lungs. When this isn't working properly, the dog can aspirate water when he drinks, leading to a cough and potentially other issues when water gets into the lungs. The condition is most frequently seen in older medium-to-large breeds.

Larynx problems include neoplasia (cancer) and injury, but the most common cause is a condition called laryngeal paralysis. Laryngeal paralysis causes muscles that controls the laryngeal cartilage becomes paralyzed and stops working. This results in the larynx not opening or closing properly. The dog may aspirate water when drinking, leading to cough or when breathing, an increase in panting. The dog's voice may also sound raspy. 

Tie-back surgery is required if a dog is having trouble breathing due to the larynx staying closed. 


Megaesophagus is a condition where the esophagus muscles do not function right, causing dilation and stretching of the esophagus and poor transportation of water and food into the stomach. If this occurs anything the dog drinks or eats can get stuck in the "weak" part of the esophagus and pool there until the dog regurgitates and spits it back up. Regurgitation can beign right after eating or drinking or hours later.

There is no known cause for this condition and it can be inherited. Dogs can show signs when weaned or later in life. It can be caused by a neuromuscular disorder or injury to the esophagus.

Diagnosis starts with an x-ray. A normal esophagus does not show up much on an x-ray. To help with the image capture a veterinarian will feed your dog a barium solution.  There is no cure for this condition and dogs are at high risk for aspirating food and liquids into their lungs because of the frequent regurgitation. The condition can be managed with a liquid diet and by keepign the dog vertical for five to 10 minutes after eating to ensure that everything goes into the stomach.

Other causes

Other causes to investigate for a dog that throws up after drinking water is hiatal hernias, cancer or esophagitis.