No noise will get a dog owner’s attention quite like the sound of a dog throwing up or preparing to throw up. This can be a common dog ailment that nearly every dog owner has probably had to deal with at least a few times.
The reasons for dog vomiting can vary. It can be as simple as your dog eating something bad, that did not agree with their stomach, eating too much of something, or eating too fast. However, in some cases, vomiting can indicate a more serious condition that requires immediate evaluation by your veterinarian.
Here’s what you need to know about dog vomiting, when to worry, and how to care for your pup.
It’s important to determine whether your dog is actually vomiting or simply regurgitating their food. The causes of vomiting and regurgitation are different, so they require different treatment.1
Vomiting involves contractions of the abdominal muscles, which leads to a forceful ejection of the contents from the dog’s stomach and upper intestines. A dog may vomit immediately after eating or anytime afterward. Before vomiting, a dog will usually display one or more signs of nausea.1
Meanwhile, regurgitation or gagging can occur when undigested food — food that hasn’t made it to the stomach yet — moves backward and is ejected. This tends to happen shortly after eating and isn’t accompanied by forceful stomach contractions.2
So how do you know if your dog is nauseous and may be getting ready to throw up? Here are some common signs of nausea in dogs that pet parents should watch out for:1
- Licking lips
- Swallowing excessively
The reasons dogs vomit are as varied as the reasons humans vomit. Vomiting is the body’s way of getting rid of harmful substances or toxins, so it’s important to observe your dog for other symptoms if they have more than one vomiting episode.
If your dog tends to be mischievous, they may have simply gotten into something that made them sick. However, if you suspect they swallowed a toxic substance or may be suffering from an illness, such as a gastrointestinal disorder, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian right away.
Any of the following can cause an acute episode of vomiting:
- Change in diet
- Food allergies
- Eating garbage
- Foreign objects (toys, bones, pieces of fabric) in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
- A GI tract infection
- Injected, inhaled, or ingested poisons
- Acid reflux
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms or hookworms
- Pancreatitis — a condition that causes the pancreas to become inflamed
- Gastroenteritis — swelling of the stomach or intestines
- A virus
- Motion sickness
- Reaction to certain medication
- Bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus)
If your dog vomits occasionally, but displays no other symptoms and continues to eat normally, you probably don’t need to be overly concerned. It was likely a dietary indiscretion.
But if your dog’s vomiting is accompanied by blood, diarrhea, fever, enlargement of the abdomen, or lasts over 24 hours, it’s time to see a vet.1 These can be symptoms of either pancreatitis or bloat.
It’s also helpful to keep track of any other symptoms that seem out of the ordinary for your dog. The more information you can provide to your vet, the easier they’ll be able to diagnose your pup with the root cause of vomiting.Here are some other important symptoms to watch for:1
- How frequently vomiting occurs
- Bowel movements, like diarrhea
- Anything in your dog’s vomit (i.e. foreign objects, blood, etc.)
- Change in appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Increase or decrease in thirst
While looking at your dog’s vomit can be gross, it’s important because the color and texture can help indicate what’s wrong. Here’s what it could mean:3
- Bloody: There may be bleeding in the stomach, intestines, or somewhere in their GI tract.
- Coffee ground-texture: This usually indicates bleeding in the stomach or intestines.
- Mucus-like: Often, this is drool sitting in your dog’s stomach.
- Yellow: Your dog may have an empty stomach.
- White: Stomach acid is building up in your dog’s stomach.
- Clear: Usually, this is water your dog can’t keep down.
- Brown: This is often regurgitation of whatever your dog just ate.
- Green: Your dog may have been eating grass, or there’s excess bile in their stomach.
If your pup’s vomiting is accompanied by any of the symptoms listed above, this warrants a visit to the vet’s office. The vet will likely run some tests to rule out serious conditions.
Your vet may recommend you feed your dog a bland diet for a few days and then gradually reintroduce your dog’s normal diet. A bland diet usually consists of steamed chicken, boiled chicken, and boiled white rice in small amounts. But your vet will be able to give you specific instructions based on your dog’s condition and other health-related factors. You can also incorporate home remedies like ginger, pumpkin puree, and honey into your pup’s diet. These can help soothe upset stomachs.
Additionally, offer your dog fresh water or ice chips to help prevent dehydration.
Your vet may also prescribe medications to control nausea, promote normal movement of the intestinal tract, or relieve inflammation in the intestinal tract.1
No one likes feeling sick, so give your dog some extra TLC when you know they have an upset stomach. Extra snuggles will go a long way toward helping your dog feel better. Just be gentle with their tummy.
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