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Dog Vomiting: Causes, Treatment, Symptoms

Dr. Danielle Bernal

By Dr. Danielle Bernal
3/30/2021

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Pet parents all agree that if given a chance, our beloved dogs will eat anything and everything they come across, making it inevitable that there are bound to be bouts of diarrhea or even an episode of vomiting to deal with at some point in their life.

While occasional vomiting may not be a cause for concern, frequent or severe vomiting can be a sign of a much more serious condition and require immediate veterinary attention. Understanding why your dog may be vomiting, what other signs you should look out for and what you can do to help is key to supporting your dog’s health.

What is vomiting?

You probably have a good idea, but vomiting is an active, forceful ejection of the stomach and upper intestinal contents that may occur several hours after your dog has eaten. Dogs evolved anatomically to be able to vomit on cue to empty their stomachs of any unwanted food items which they may have eaten as a dietary indiscretion. It’s a common condition that many dogs experience. As the food has undergone partial digestion, its contents can appear as a combination of yellow bile, liquid or foam and food chunks as well as have a sour smell to it.

Regurgitation vs vomiting

As you seek to determine what upset your dog it is also important to understand the difference between regurgitation and vomiting. These two things may seem identical, but there are a few key differences. Regurgitation is more of a passive, relatively effortless ejection of undigested food from the esophagus that resembles the original food that was eaten as it often occurs directly after eating. 

When vomiting can become a problem

In many cases vomiting is an acute and limited upset that often, it is not cause for alarm. Should your dog vomit but not show any other symptoms, then he probably just had an upset stomach. However, if the vomiting is accompanied by physical or behavioral changes, then it can quickly become a cause for concern. Vomiting, especially in prolonged cases, can cause dehydration and electrolyte losses that can lead to lethargy and loss of appetite, which can have more serious consequences especially in small, young or older animals and may require immediate veterinary attention. 

Causes of vomiting

Acute vomiting is often severe or sudden vomiting and can be caused by a variety of substances, illnesses and diseases. Here are some of the common causes of acute vomiting:

•    Dietary indiscretion (ingestion of table scraps, garbage, foreign bodies)
•    Dietary intoxication (poisonous plants, insecticides, rodenticides, among others)
•    Food allergy or dietary sensitivity
•    Parasites
•    Viral infections
•    Heat stroke
•    Intestinal Parasites (Giardia, roundsworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworm)
•    Drug-related reactions
•    Renal disease
•    Bloat
•    Motion sickness
•    Liver disease
•    Electrolyte abnormalities

Chronic vomiting:

Should a dog continue to suffer repeated vomiting bouts or show additional signs of being unwell it is imperative to seek veterinary attention. The following are a list of important signs to look out for that indicate it is a good time to call your vet:

dog upset stomach vet exam

•    Suspected ingestion of a foreign body such as a bone, toy or household item.
•    Vomiting alongside other symptoms such as lethargy, fever, weight loss or pale gums
•    Presence of blood in the vomit or stools
•    Seizures
•    Continuous vomiting or dry vomiting 

How to help:

dog vomiting vet visit

Your pet’s health is always the most important factor so if you dog is a puppy, older, has a pre-existing medical condition or their condition seems to worsen, book time with your veterinarian for an immediate examination.  If however, your dog has suffered just a single vomiting episode, is otherwise alert and active and has had no previous health concerns then implementing some at home care can help them.  Examples include: 

•    Withholding food for at least 6 hours.  
•    Encourage small and frequent drinks of water but avoid allowing them to drink excessively as this may induce further vomiting.
•    Once the vomiting stops and the fasting period is completed, introduce a small bland food meal.  
•    Should no vomiting occur after the introduction of food continue to gradually increase the amount of food over the next two days. 

If at any stage the vomiting returns or if your dog starts to show signs of deteriorating, then immediately contact your veterinarian to ensure they can get a thorough diagnostic assessment to help return them back to good health.

About This Page

Pet Type:

Dog

Topic:

Digestive Health

Date:

3/30/2021

Author:

Dr. Danielle Bernal
Dr. Danielle Bernal

Dr. Bernal has over a decade of experience in veterinary medicine, specializing in animal nutrition. In her role as on-staff veterinarian with Wellness Pet Food, she educates pet parents on the importance of natural ingredients like wholesome meats and nutrient-rich superfoods. She passionately believes that proper nutrition helps pets lead happier, healthier lives. Dr. Bernal has been featured in radio, TV and print stories in numerous countries.

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