Dog Vomit: Types, Causes and When You Should Be Worried

Dog Vomit: Types, Causes And When Should You Worry

Vomiting is quite common in dogs, but it’s always alarming to see your dog puke up its last meal. While it’s not usually serious, sometimes vomiting can point to a health condition or problem that needs to be checked out by a vet.

When is vomiting a cause for concern?

If your dog can’t stop vomiting, is dehydrated from vomiting, or has other symptoms, then you should take him or her to the vet to be checked out.

However, sometimes vomiting is a symptom of a lifestyle problem. By changing that, you can prevent your dog from vomiting in future. Here’s everything you need to know about why dogs vomit and what you can do about it.

Why Is Your Dog Vomiting?

There are many reasons why a dog could vomit. These include:

  • Bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Food intolerance or allergies
  • Dietary changes
  • Eating too fast
  • Eating foreign bodies that are now lodged in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Eating toxic substances
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Acute liver failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Viral infections
  • Heatstroke
  • Car sickness
  • Fear and anxiety

Age Is Something To Consider

Age Is Something To Consider

Generally speaking, if your dog is younger than five years old and in good general health, they could be vomiting because they ate something that made them sick.

This is especially the case when it comes to puppies. As you probably know, puppies are very curious and love to explore their surroundings, and sometimes they can end up eating something they shouldn’t.

When dogs are older, however, they’re more likely to develop health problems that could have vomiting as a symptom, such as problems with their kidneys or liver.  

What If The Vomiting Is An Isolated Incident?  

Sometimes a dog will throw up only once, and this could occur after he ate food that didn’t agree with him or if he ate his food too fast. If you notice that vomiting was an isolated event, then you don’t have to worry about it.

You can monitor your dog to be sure that he doesn’t puke again, but otherwise you can forget about it.

If your dog throws up once every while, this is more concerning. The culprit could be a stomach or intestinal problem or inflammation, severe constipation, or organ problems such as liver or kidney dysfunction.

What If Your Dog Vomits Regularly?

What If Your Dog Vomits Regularly?

On the other hand, sometimes dogs vomit more frequently. The vomiting might even become chronic. This can point to more serious health conditions, such as parvovirus or intestinal obstructions.

The same goes for if the vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms, such as lethargy, weight loss, diarrhea, dehydration, blood in the vomit, increased/decreased urination or thirst, and changes in appetite.

Dehydration is especially concerning for puppies, so if you notice signs that your pooch isn’t getting enough water, such as dry and sticky gums, panting, sunken eyes, loss of appetite, or lethargy, then you should bring him to the vet immediately.  

If any of the above is happening to your dog, it’s important to chat to your vet. You should bring your pet to them for an examination to get to the source of the vomiting.

What’s The Difference Between Vomiting And Regurgitation?

Sometimes the terms “vomiting” and “regurgitation” are used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things.

Regurgitation is when a dog has coughed up water, saliva, and undigested food. You’ll see that what comes out of your dog’s mouth is usually cylindrical in shape.

This is because regurgitated substances are usually food that come from the esophagus. A dog who regurgitates won’t have to heave since the matter will come out easily and quickly.  

Common reasons why dogs regurgitate is overeating, anxiety, over-excitement, or eating too quickly. Some dog breeds are more prone to regurgitating than others, such as Great Danes, Labrador retrievers, German Shepherds, and Miniature Schnauzers.

Vomiting, on the other hand, is when your dog’s muscles will contract and tense up to expel the material that has to be vomited. When a dog vomits, the material that comes up will originate from the stomach or upper small intestine, which is why they have to work hard to try to get it out.

You’ll probably hear the dog retch and see that the vomit is either clear (that means it’s come from the stomach), or yellow green (this is bile). Sometimes a dog that’s about to vomit will also display other symptoms, such as stomach gurgling noises, drooling, or pacing.

What To Do When Your Dog Vomits

Whether he’s vomited once or a few times, it’s important to follow some important tips to give your dog the right care.

Keep Them Hydrated

Your dog can dehydrate if he or she is suffering from persistent vomiting, so you want to make sure that they’re drinking lots of water and managing to keep it down.  

Be Careful When Limiting Food

You don’t always have to limit your dog’s food after they’ve vomited. If your dog puked once and then seemed fine, you can follow your usual feeding routine.

However, if your dog battles to eat their regular food, you can help to ease their stomach by giving them a bland, low-fat food for a while. Try to feed your dog small amounts of this food up to six times a day for a few days.

You should slowly increase the amount of their food at each meal and decrease the amount of feedings throughout the day.

Giving your dog small meals has the added bonus of helping to prevent your dog from eating too fast. However, before making any changes to their diet, you should consult with your vet to be sure you’re doing the right thing.

You might also have to prevent your dog from drinking water if your vet suggests that your dog fast for a while. If this is the case, make sure your pet doesn’t have other ways of getting water, such as via the toilet bowl.

However, if your dog is a very small breed, has health conditions, or is old, your vet will probably not suggest that you withhold water from them, and you should never keep water away from him as it can be dangerous.

Wait And Watch

You don’t have to phone your vet if the vomiting was a once-off event, but if your dog continues vomiting or doesn’t seem like themselves, then you should bring your pet to the vet to get checked out.

Keep an eye out for the development of any other symptoms that accompany the vomiting, such as those we mentioned earlier in this article.

What To Look For In Your Dog’s Vomit

Your dog’s vomit can sometimes have clues in it that will help you to see what has caused it. Here are some important things to look for in your dog’s vomit before you clean it up.

  • Foreign materials: Look for signs that your dog has vomited something that they shouldn’t have eaten, such as bones, items from the garbage or compost pile, or grass.
  • Consistency: The vomit consistency can tell you a lot about it. Dog vomit can be foamy, slimy, runny, chunky, or granular. If your dog’s vomit is chunky or granular, this is usually as a result of food that was eaten or items that your dog shouldn’t have eaten that didn’t agree with him. If the vomit is clear, slimy, or foamy, that means that your dog’s stomach was emptied when he vomited. This foam originates from mucus in the stomach.
  • Color: You should also check the color of your dog’s vomit. Yellow vomit usually means that there’s bile in it, but bile can also make your dog’s vomit look a bit green or orange. If the vomit is bright green, this points to the dog having eaten rat poison, so you should consult with your vet immediately. If there’s red color in the vomit, this means that blood is in the stomach, mouth, or esophagus. This is also an emergency that warrants a trip to the vet or animal hospital.

How Much Did Your Dog Vomit?

The quantity of vomit is also important to take notice of as this will be valuable information for your vet to know.

If a dog has eaten a lot of food in a hurry or consumed lots of water, he or she is likely to regurgitate a large amount of material.

On the other hand, a dog who can only vomit a small amount of matter, or has vomit that consists of small amounts of white foam, this can be a sign of gastric dilatation-volvulus, or “twisted stomach.” It’s when everything blocks up in the stomach.

It’s a potentially life-threatening condition that needs emergency medical attention because it will just get worse within hours and can be fatal. However, if your dog does have a twisted stomach, he’ll show many other symptoms, such as a swollen abdomen.  

Illnesses That Can Cause Dog Vomiting

There are underlying health conditions that can cause your dog to vomit. Here’s a rundown of the most common ones that have vomiting as a symptom.

Pancreatitis

This is when the pancreas becomes inflamed as a result of eating fatty foods, such as turkey skins. But sometimes the cause for pancreatitis isn’t immediately obvious.

Persistent vomiting is a common sign of pancreatitis, but it’s usually accompanied by abdominal pain and lethargy. Dogs with pancreatitis usually have to be hospitalized so that they can receive intravenous fluids and medication.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Some dogs get inflammatory bowel disease, which is inflammation of the bowel lining. Allergies can contribute to the development of this disease, and vomiting is one of the main symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

Anti-inflammatory medication and dietary changes are usually ways to treat this condition.

Gastroenteritis

This is when the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed. There are many reasons why this could occur, such as bacteria, viruses, new foods in the diet, or parasites. Vomiting is a common symptom of gastroenteritis, along with abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Gastritis

This is inflammation of the stomach lining. It can be caused by eating items that aren’t food, toxic items, or rancid food. It’s marked by the sudden onset of vomiting, decreased appetite, dehydration, lethargy and depression.

Sometimes blood in the faeces or vomit and abdominal pain will also occur.

Diabetes

If your dog’s diabetes hasn’t been diagnosed, he or she might experience symptoms such as vomiting, increased thirst, and increased urination.

Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

This is when your dog’s sensitive to the bile that’s in his stomach, but it usually happens when your dog hasn’t eaten for long periods of time. Bilious Vomiting Syndrome is when bile causes inflammation in your dog’s system.

Regular vomiting can be a symptom, but you can prevent it by feeding your dog multiple meals throughout the day so that he or she doesn’t go for long periods of time without food.

Why Is Your Dog Vomiting Even Though He Has An Empty Stomach?

Why Is Your Dog Vomiting Even Though He Has An Empty Stomach?

If your dog’s still puking even though he hasn’t eaten anything, there are reasons for this. They include the following:

  • Your dog’s eaten poison or something toxic.
  • Your dog’s got a stomach ulcer. You might also see what looks like coffee grounds in your dog’s vomit, which is a sign that your dog’s bleeding internally.  
  • Your dog’s got an infection, such as parvovirus.
  • Your dog’s got bloat. “Dog bloat” causes food and gas to accumulate in the stomach. Sometimes the stomach becomes twisted. As mentioned earlier, it’s a life-threatening emergency that can be fatal.
  • Your dog’s battling with psychological issues. This is when your dog vomits and gags when he or she is scared or anxious. You’ll probably see other signs of anxiety in your dog, such as panting, pacing, or shivering.

Why Is Your Dog Vomiting After Eating Food?

If you’ve just given Fido his meal and he pukes it all up afterwards, and this happens regularly, this could be happening as a result of many different reasons. Here’s a rundown of them.

  1. He just loves his food a lot. One of the reasons why your dog could puke is because he’s eaten too fast due to loving his food so much! You should try to stagger his meals throughout the day and feed him smaller amounts of food at a time.
  1. He’s feeling stressed while eating. Your dog could be experiencing stress while eating, such as if he feels that other dogs in the house are trying to get his food. This can be prevented by separating your pets at mealtimes. But be alert for other reasons why your dog might feel afraid or anxious while eating.
  1. He ate grass. Maybe your dog ate grass before eating his food and now he’s vomited both the grass and his food. This shouldn’t be a problem as long as the vomiting doesn’t continue. Once he’s thrown it up, he shouldn’t vomit again.
  1. His new food doesn’t agree with him. If you’ve changed your dog’s food, this could be the culprit for why he’s vomiting. But, as long as you’ve slowly transitioned your dog over to his new food, he shouldn’t be throwing it up after mealtimes. So what’s going on? Maybe there’s something in the food that doesn’t agree with him, such as if your dog’s intolerant or allergic to an ingredient. Chat to your vet, who’ll be able to suggest solutions, such as changing to a different food after the offending ingredient has been discovered and eliminated.

How To Prevent Your Dog Vomiting

It’s not always easy or possible to prevent your dog from vomiting.

For example, if your dog has an underlying medical condition of which you’re not yet aware or if your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t have and you didn’t see him do so.

That said, there are ways in which you can prevent your dog from eating toxic household items, such as plants that are poisonous to dogs: you should keep them out of reach so that your dog isn’t curious about them.

Some common toxic items you should pack in high cupboards so your dog can’t get to them include human medication, human foods containing chocolate, human foods containing xylitol, pest control products, and antifreeze.

Here are other ways to prevent vomiting: 

  • If your dog tends to vomit because he or she eats their food too quickly, you can help to prevent this by giving them smaller amounts of food at a time or feeding the dog bit by bit at mealtimes so that they don’t gobble it all up in one go.
  • If you travel with your dog and it experiences motion sickness, you can help to prevent vomiting by limiting how much food they eat before a car journey. You should also ask your vet about your dog’s motion sickness as they’ll be able to prescribe medication that your dog can take to keep it at bay.
  • When changing your dog’s food, you can prevent them from getting stomach discomfort that can include vomiting by ensuring that you slowly ease them into the new diet. This means you should add a bit of the new food to your dog’s current food and then slowly increase the amount of the new food every day for a week. By the end of the seven days, your dog will only be eating the new food. Doing this helps your dog’s body get used to the new diet instead of being overwhelmed by it.
  • Try to find ways to eliminate stress in the household, especially around mealtimes. This could include feeding your dog in a calm, quiet room where external stimuli and other pets don’t disturb it.
  • Bring your dog to the vet for regular check-ups. This will identify any underlying health problems that can be causing nausea and vomiting.

All of the above tips can go a long way to helping your dog’s stomach stay healthy and preventing vomiting, which is an unpleasant and often distressing occurrence for pets and their owners.

Related Questions

What will vets do to diagnose the reason for your dog vomiting?

Your vet will consider your dog’s age, physical health, any current health conditions they have, and their medical history, and then take tests, such as blood tests, X-rays, or ultrasound scans to determine the cause of the vomiting.

What are reasons for foam in vomit?

There are many reasons for your dog’s vomit containing white foam, such as GI distress, excess gas in the stomach, or indigestion.

Should you give your dog OTC medication for vomiting?

While it might be tempting, you should never give your dog any medication that your vet hasn’t prescribed for him or her as this can be dangerous. It might also make the vomiting worse.

Conclusion

It’s horrible to see your dog vomit because you don’t want them to experience any discomfort or lose out on the nutrients they just consumed in their healthy dog food. But vomiting doesn’t always have to be a cause for concern.

As we’ve seen in this article, vomiting is usually a once-off event that doesn’t mean anything serious. Even healthy dogs can vomit from time to time! However, we’ve also seen that sometimes vomiting in dogs can be a sign of an underlying health condition or emergency.  

It’s therefore important to monitor your dog and contact your vet if your pet continues to vomit, is experiencing other distressing symptoms, or doesn’t seem like their usual self.

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