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No sound 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 occurrence 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 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.

Is my Dog Throwing Up or Gagging?

According to Drs. Krista Williams and Ernest Ward, veterinarians with VCA Hospitals, it is important to determine whether your dog is actually vomiting or simply regurgitating their food.  This is because the causes of vomiting and regurgitation are different, so they require different treatment.1

 Vomiting involves contractions of the abdominal muscles, which lead 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.2

Is my Dog Nauseous?

Signs of nausea in dogs

Below is a list of common signs of nausea in dogs pet parents should watch for:

  • Appearing restless
  • Repeated licking of its lips 
  • Salivating
  • Swallowing excessively 
  • Drooling3

As opposed to actual vomiting, regurgitation, or even gagging can occur when undigested food (food that has not yet made it to the stomach) moves backward and is ejected.  This tends to happen shortly after eating and is not accompanied by forceful stomach contractions.

What Can Cause my Dog to Suddenly Start Vomiting?

The reasons dogs vomit are as varied as the reasons humans vomit.  

If your dog is a “trash digger,” he may have simply gone through the garbage and gotten into something that was in the garbage for no good reason. 

Vomiting is the body’s way of getting rid of substances or toxins that can cause harm, so it is important to observe your dog for other symptoms. Your dog may have swallowed a toxic substance or may be suffering from an illness, such as a gastrointestinal disorder.  If you suspect this could be the case, it is important 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 tract
  • An infection of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Injected, inhaled, or ingested poisons
  • Acid reflux
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Intestinal parasites such as roundworms or hookworms4
  • Pancreatitis - a condition that causes the pancreas to become inflamed
  • A virus
  • Motion sickness
  • Reaction to certain medication
  • Bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus)
  • Heatstroke5

If your dog vomits occasionally, but displays no other symptoms and continues to eat normally, you probably don’t need to be overly concerned.  However, if your dog vomits more than once per day, or if vomiting continues for more than one day, please make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. Frequent vomiting can be a sign of a more serious condition.

What other Symptoms Should I watch for?

If your dog’s vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea, fever, or enlargement of the abdomen, head directly to the vet.  These can be symptoms of either Pancreatitis6 or Bloat.7  

It is also helpful to keep track of any other symptoms that may seem out of the ordinary for your dog.  The more information you can provide to your vet, the more helpful it will be in making a diagnosis.

Here are some other important symptoms to watch for:

  • How frequently vomiting occurs
  • Bowel movements - does your dog have diarrhea? 
  • Anything in your dog’s vomit (i.e.: foreign objects, blood)
  • Does your dog appear to be dehydrated?8
  • Change in appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Increase or decrease in thirst
  • Lethargy9

How to Help your Dog with Vomiting

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 any serious conditions.  

Your vet may recommend you feed your dog a bland diet for a few days and then gradually introduce your dog’s normal diet again.  A bland diet usually consists of steamed chicken, boiled chicken, and boiled white rice in small amounts.

Additionally, be sure to have fresh water available at all times to prevent dehydration.

Your vet may also prescribe medications to control nausea, promote normal movement of the intestinal tract, or medication that relieve inflammation in the intestinal tract.10

Give your Pup Some Extra Love

No one likes feeling sick.  So remember to give your dog some extra TLC when you know he or she is not feeling well.  After all, your furry friend is always there for you when you’re under the weather.  Extra snuggles will go a long way toward helping your dog feel better.

Consider Investing in Dog Insurance  

Looking for more ways to keep your pup happy and healthy? Consider investing in a dog insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance. Get your free quote today. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

1 Vomiting in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital

2 Why Is My Dog Vomiting?, PETMD, November 03, 2020, Stephanie Lantry,  

3 Vomiting in Dogs, VCA, Krista Williams

4 6 Most Common Dog Health Problems, PETS WEB MD,  

5 PETS WEB MD

6 Dog Throwing Up? Reasons Your Dog Is Vomiting & How To Help, Pawp.com, July 29,2020, Vanessa Armstrong

7 Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, ACVS.org

8 Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs – American Kennel Club

9 Causes of Dog Vomiting, WEB MD

10 Vomiting in Dogs, VCA, Krista Williams