Ask a Vet

How to Tell If Your Dog Has a Sore Throat

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Much like us humans, our furry friends can get sick and experience symptoms such as a sore throat.

Unfortunately, unlike humans, dogs are unable to tell someone when something’s wrong, at least not using words anyway.

However, there are a number of symptoms and signs to look out for that will tell you your dog is suffering from a sore throat.

How to tell if your dog has a sore throat and what to do about it

How to tell if my dog has a sore throat?

There are a number of tell-tale signs that would indicate your dog may have a sore throat. These include:

1. Over Swallowing

If you notice your dogs appears to be trying to swallow even though he isn’t eating or chewing something, this can be the first sign that they are developing a sore throat.

Similarly to a developing sore throat in humans, we swallow more often to soothe the throat. Your dog may feel like they have something in their throat because of the strange feeling.

2. Gagging

It’s pretty easy to tell if your dog is gagging. This can be a tell-tale sign of a sore throat. However, you should always check to see if they are actually choking on something.

Similarly to the swallowing motion, your dog may feel like there is something lodged in their throat, so they start to gag. If they do have something stuck in their throat, this will cause a sore throat anyway.

3. Coughing

It’s not normal for your dog to experience coughing. So, this will always be a sign that something is wrong.

Typically, it is due to a sore throat. If it isn’t being caused by a sore throat, coughing will often cause your dog to suffer from a sore throat, so either way this will be a sign to seek advice from a vet.

4. Crying when opening their mouth

A more obvious sign to suggest your dog’s throat is sore is if they tend to whimper when they yawn or open their mouth to chew or play.

Just like in humans, stretching the jaw and throat muscles with a sore throat can be super uncomfortable and painful.

5. Drooling and constantly licking their lips

You may not have known this but dogs typically lip their lips as a way of comforting themselves when they are anxious or experiencing discomfort and pain.

So, if your dog seems to be licking their lips all the time, it’s worth checking them out for signs of oral discomfort or infection like a sore throat. It may be causing your dog pain which is why they are comforting themselves.

Additionally, they may be licking all the time because they can’t stop drooling, which can also be a sign of a sore throat.

When dogs develop sinus infections, they will drool more uncontrollably as a symptom. This is because their saliva glands may be blocked and/or infected, which will almost certainly cause them to have a sore throat.

6. Not interested in food or water

If your dog seems to have lost their appetite and is not drinking water, this is always a sign for concern. It may be the result of any number of reasons, but it may be because they have a sore throat and they don’t want to agitate it.

7. They’re running a fever

A sore throat may be due to a throat infection which will cause them to run a fever. Symptoms will include shivering and general lethargy.

Their bodies will be trying to fight off the infection, which drains their energy, so your dog will probably sleep more and be less interested in playing or going for a walk

8. Red, swollen tonsils

If your dog has displayed any of the signs above, you should check to see if their tonsils are red and swollen.

This will be a tell-tale sign that they have a sore throat and may even be suffering from tonsillitis. Seek treatment from the vet immediately.

How to tell if your dog has a sore throat and what to do about it2

What could be causing my dog to have a sore throat?

There are a number of illnesses and external reasons why your dog may have a sore throat. Don’t be too concerned if you think your dog might be suffering. It could have a simple, easily treatable cause.

Some reasons that could be causing your dog to have a sore throat include:

  • Cuts & irritations – investigate your dog’s mouth for a possible culprit. There could be an irritating hair in their throat or maybe a cut in their mouth which is causing them to experience a sore throat
  • Lodged foreign object – your dog may have a small toy or a piece of trash they’ve found somewhere stuck in their throat, which is cutting or irritating it. If you believe your dog may have something lodged in their throat, seek medical assistance from your vet, as it may need to be surgically removed
  • Respiratory or sinus infection – an infection of this nature can cause a sore throat as one of the symptoms. This will typically result in your vet prescribing some antibiotics
  • Canine flu – the super contagious illness can easily be passed to your dog at the dog park or from chewing an infected toy. This will create a sore throat
  • Tonsillitis – it’s pretty rare for a dog to get tonsillitis, but they have tonsils, so they are susceptible to the illness. This would obviously cause them to suffer with a sore throat
  • Chronic mouth disease – tartar build-up on your dog’s teeth can cause an infection which will result in a sore throat. Alternatively, your dog may have a bacterial infection, such as periodontal disease, which will also cause a sore throat
  • Strep throat – although uncommon, strep throat can spread to dogs if they have been in contact with a human that has it. They develop a transient infection which can cause quite a painful sore throat

How can I treat my dog’s sore throat?

If your furry friend is suffering from any of these symptoms, and you think they may have a sore throat, while there are ways to soothe your dog’s pain, you should, of course, seek advice from a vet, so they can identify the cause and administer the necessary treatment.

Some possible sore throat remedies and treatments include:

  • Antibiotics – If there is a respiratory or sinus infection or a foreign object stuck in your dog’s throat or mouth
  • Herbal tea mixture – administering a herbal mixture of peppermint, sage, and thyme can help to soothe your dog’s throat but should not be used as a treatment
  • Vaccinations – sometimes the sore throat could be the result of an illness such as kennel cough
  • Water down their food – while your dog is undergoing treatment for their sore throat consider feeding them only wet canned food with added water to make it easier for your dog to swallow
  • Honey – feed your dog half a teaspoon of honey to help soothe the pain
  • Coconut oil – a small spoon of coconut oil once a day can also help to reduce any pain for your dog

Once treatment has begun, your dog should recover from a sore throat after three days to a week, depending on the cause. You should notice an improvement in their happiness after a day or two, though, as the pain starts to lessen.

Final Say

Just like us, dogs can get sore throats. Noticing when your dog is sick can be easily missed, but our furry friends are actually a lot smarter than we give them credit for and have a number of ways of letting us know when something’s wrong.

So, pay close attention to your dog next time you think they’re just being annoying when they bark more than usual or are crying for seemingly no reason. It’s up to us to keep our beloved pets healthy and happy!

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.