Introduction to Dog Vomiting:
When It’s Serious & What to Do
Vomiting is when your dog forcefully ejects the contents of the stomach or the upper intestine.
A vomiting dog may show abdominal heaving and nausea.
Dog vomiting may happen for several reasons.
It could be that your dog ate more than they could handle or ate too fast, or your dog could have eaten too much grass.
Sometimes the cause could be more serious.
Your dog could have swallowed something toxic, or it may be a sign of a serious illness, which could require a visit to see your vet.
You should also be able to tell if your dog is vomiting or regurgitating.
Dogs mostly regurgitate soon after eating, and it’s a mostly passive process the dog simply lowers their head and food comes up, without active abdominal contractions like vomiting.
The food expelled during regurgitation is usually undigested and without bile. But vomit is partially digested and has some bile.
Your dog will almost always try to eat regurgitated food.
When your dog is throwing up, it’s a way for them to rid their system of anything indigestible, but sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious and underlying disease or clinical condition.
If your puppy is vomiting, you may be wondering whether it is serious and you should be thinking about seeking help from a vet.
Keep reading to discover all the possible reasons why they may do this and the dog vomiting treatments available.
Difference Between Vomiting
And Regurgitating In Dogs
Vomiting vs. Regurgitating
We need to distinguish between vomiting and regurgitation.
When dogs vomit, they are forcefully ejecting the contents of their stomach and upper small intestine, bringing food, fluid, and debris onto your carpet.
Prior to this unpleasant display, they usually exhibit signs of nausea, such as excessive drooling, retching, and contractions of the abdomen rather like we do.
Regurgitation is different.
Instead of ejecting the stomach contents by force, regurgitation is a passive motion that expels undigested food and fluids.
Unlike vomiting, the signs of regurgitation are difficulty breathing and coughing.
One way to tell if your dog has regurgitated instead of vomited is to look at what the dog has thrown up.
Regurgitated substances are undigested and may keep the cylindrical shape of the esophagus.
When Is A Dog Vomiting Normal?
Long-term dog owners know that vomiting is not uncommon.
Occasionally, healthy dogs will get sick for no apparent reason and then continue with their day as if nothing happened.
Your dog could have eaten too quickly, swallowed something disagreeable, or merely snacked on too much grass.
This type of vomiting is usually nothing to worry about. So how do you tell when vomiting is a cause for concern?
Your dog is most likely fine if he vomits once without any other symptoms, according to veterinarians.
If your dog’s vomiting can be described as any of the following, then it is time to start getting concerned:
- Continuous vomiting
- Chronic vomiting
- Vomiting a lot at one time
- Vomiting with other symptoms, like fever, weight loss, lethargy, anemia, etc.
- Vomiting blood
- Vomiting with nothing coming up
- Bloody diarrhea
- Suspected foreign body ingestion
It never hurts to play it safe when it comes to dog health.
The best way to find out if your dog’s vomiting is normal or not is to call your vet.
What Causes Acute Vomiting in Dogs?
Acute vomiting, which can be defined as sudden or severe bouts of vomiting, is a serious symptom of quite a few diseases, disorders, and complications.
- Ingestion of irritating substances (i.e., garbage, chocolate)
- Toxins or poisons
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Diet change
- Intestinal parasites
- Viral infection
- Medication reaction
- Bacterial infection
It is up to owners to help veterinarians narrow down the cause.
For instance, if your dog vomits after being outside in the hot sun or trapped in a hot car, then heatstroke is a prime suspect.
If your trash can displays evidence of canine exploration, then garbage, toxins, or a foreign body are more likely.
You know your dog’s behavior best, which is why it is up to you to fill your veterinarian in on anything that could have contributed to your dog’s condition, like access to human medications, toxins, a change in diet, and other possible causes.
If your dog is vomiting with diarrhea or vomiting and has a poor appetite, call your veterinarian.
What Causes Chronic Dog Vomiting?
Chronic, frequent, or long-term vomiting is also a cause for concern, especially if it is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Other unusual symptoms
As with acute vomiting, there are a number of conditions that can cause frequent or chronic vomiting:
- Intestinal obstruction
- Liver disease
- Kidney or liver failure
- Systemic illness
- Intestinal inflammation
- Uterine infection
Most of these conditions are very treatable, especially if they are addressed as soon as possible.
The majority of the issues caused by chronic or frequent vomiting will not go away on their own and require the intervention of a veterinarian.
Vomiting in Puppies
A dog vomiting is potentially serious, but puppy vomiting should always be treated as a potential emergency.
After six weeks, puppies lose the immunity given to them by their mothers.
Since young puppies only just begin receiving vaccinations, they are at an increased risk of contracting serious diseases like parvo or parasites.
If your puppy is vomiting, don’t wait to see if it resolves on its own call your vet.
When You Should Be Concerned?
If your dog is sick as a one-off randomly and shows no other symptoms of being unwell, then there’s usually no reason to worry.
If, however, they’re showing any of the following signs, then it’s time to call your vet:
- If you think they’ve ingested a foreign body or something poisonous
- You spot blood in their stools or vomit
- They seem to be vomiting frequently
- They’re continuously retching unproductively (i.e. there is nothing coming up)
- Your dog seems to be in pain or discomfort
- They’re demonstrating signs of depression and lethargy
- They’re dehydrated
- Your dog seems to be losing weight and has lost its appetite
- They have a temperature
- Your dog’s having seizures too
If your dog’s throwing up as well as showing any of the signs above, contact your vet immediately.
This could indicate a more serious problem such as a gastrointestinal foreign body or obstruction, kidney or liver failure, or even canine cancer.
With these serious diseases, the key is catching and treating them early, so always be on the lookout.
Diagnosing Vomiting in Dogs
Determining the cause of a dog’s vomiting usually requires several steps.
Your vet will ask you questions about your dog’s access to garbage, poisons, and toxins, about any recent dietary changes, and if your dog is exhibiting any other symptoms.
She or he will then perform a physical examination.
If your vet feels it is necessary, she will run any additional tests, such as blood work, ultrasounds, x-rays, endoscopic evaluations, biopsies, and urine tests.
Treating Vomiting in Dogs
Once your vet determines the cause of your dog’s vomiting, she will tailor a treatment plan based on the cause and your dog’s condition.
Vomiting itself can create issues like dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and acid-base disorders.
Your vet will address these problems by treating the symptoms and in some cases prescribing anti-nausea medications.
Due to the fact that there are so many different reasons why your dog is being sick, there’s a variety of treatments your vet may administer.
A lot of dog vomiting is caused by inflammation of the stomach, so one of the most common treatments includes feeding a bland diet (boiled chicken or white fish and white rice or sweet potato or a veterinary-prescribed gastrointestinal diet), alongside some anti-nausea medication.
If your dog is dehydrated, they may need to be admitted to the veterinary practice for administration of intravenous fluids.
Additionally, if it’s extremely serious they may need surgery and to stay at your vet’s for a period of time, so that they can administer frequent medication.
When Should You Call a Vet About a Vomiting Dog?
As humans, most of us don’t call the doctor over an isolated bout of vomiting.
If your dog vomits once and then resumes his normal activities and eats and poops normally, chances are it was a minor incident, although it never hurts to play it safe.
If your dog vomits more than once or has recurring bouts of vomiting, you need to call your vet immediately.
Vomiting is a symptom of many serious diseases, illnesses, and complications, and as owners, we owe it to our dogs to take it seriously.
Ignoring your dog’s vomiting could have serious, even fatal consequences.