Dog Vomiting

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When a dog throws up —whether it’s acute vomiting or a one time occurrence— it can understandably make dog owners feel concerned, even if the cause is not life-threatening. And because the causes for vomiting can range from everyday occurrences like food intolerance and motion sickness to more serious reasons like underlying issues with your dog’s health, you should know when it requires medical attention, as well as how to help them and what not to do.

Is your dog vomiting?

First, it’s important to establish whether your dog is or isn’t vomiting. Regurgitating and vomiting are two different physiological processes that often look the same to people when it comes to their dogs.

When a dog regurgitates, they passively expel food from their esophagus —meaning food that didn’t go all the way down to their stomachs and therefore has not been digested. When they vomit, on the other hand, they are actively and forcefully ejecting stomach contents. Once you’re sure your dog vomited or has a vomiting bout, it’s important to identify the cause.

Vomiting

Regurgitating

Takes effort (retching, belly contractions, etc.)

Can happen immediately or a while after eating

Dog might not want to eat it

Food in contents might be digested or partially digested

Takes no effort (comes out with ease)

Immediately or shortly after eating

Dog might try to eat it

Contents will include undigested food

Why is your dog vomiting?

For dog parents, it can be alarming whenever their furry kids show signs of being sick. And since vomiting is a common symptom of many illnesses and health issues, it can cause owners to panic.

However, dog vomiting can just be a sign that they ate something they weren’t supposed to, caught a bug from another dog at the park, or that a car ride didn’t sit quite well with them. And if your dog is otherwise healthy, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions and land at the worst possible scenario, as owners often do.

Below are just some of the most common causes for dog vomiting, which range from mild and easily treatable to serious and life-threatening conditions.

Common causes for dog vomitin

Serious causes for dog vomitin

Motion sickness

Diet changes (switching to a new dog food can cause them to have an upset stomach or food allergies, which could result in vomiting. 

Dietary indiscretions (feeding them something they shouldn't eat)

Intestinal parasites

Viral infections (parvovirus, distemper etc.)

Bacterial infections

Ingesting foreign objects

Early signs of heatstroke

Gastrointestinal issues (inflammatory bowel disease, inflammation of the stomach, ulcers, etc.) 

Intestinal obstructions or blockages

Liver disease

Pancreatitis

Kidney failure 

Cancer

The cause of your dog’s vomiting will be best identified by a licensed veterinarian, as they will perform different tests (x-rays, biopsies, blood tests, etc) to diagnose and properly treat them. However, if you want to help alleviate your dog or know if they can wait to visit the vet or if you have to take them to the ER, there are signs you can look for, starting with how your dog’s vomit looks.

Some veterinary clinics and veterinarians have designed vomit color charts that owners can use as a reference when they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for. As a rule of thumb, blood in vomit and in any bodily fluid is cause for concern.

When should you take your dog to the vet?

There are certain things that can tip you off when your dog’s vomiting warrants a visit to the vet. If your dog vomits and exhibits other symptoms not associated with the vomiting, they will probably need a veterinarian to treat them. These could be indicative of something like a mild and treatable infection or a more concerning condition. Some symptoms and behaviors you should watch out for include:

Chronic vomiting

Weight loss

Loss of appetite

Irregular urination

Bloating

Lethargy

Diarrhea

Dog vomiting FAQs

Why is my dog vomiting?

There are many things that could cause a dog to vomit. You might be able to identify the cause at home by taking a look at your dog's vomit and evaluating their behavior or you can consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.

What can I give my dog for vomiting?

This can vary by situation, as causes like viral or bacterial infections will require different treatments than, for example, if your dog has ingested toxic substances. This is why it's best to take a vomiting dog to the vet. The vet will most likely screen your dog with diagnostic tools and tests to determine the cause and treat them accordingly.

What home remedy can I give my dog for vomiting?

If your dog is vomiting, it might be best to keep them on a bland diet until their stomach settles or until they can go to the vet. Although you might be tempted to give your dog remedies like electrolyte solutions to prevent or help with dehydration, you should ask a veterinarian to make sure it's safe and that it will not worsen their condition.

Summary of Money’s Dog Vomiting Guide

There are many things that can cause a dog to vomit, which include ingesting foreign bodies, food changes, issues with their stomach and/or small intestine, viruses, and many more.

Vomiting should not be a cause for panic if you have a healthy dog, as the reason could be non life-threatening.

As it may be difficult to narrow down the specific reason, it may be best to consult a veterinarian, even if you have a healthy dog.

Even though you might want to treat your dog at home, you should always check with your veterinarian first, as causes and the treatment each requires are wide-ranging.