Why Is My Dog Vomiting?
It’s not uncommon for dogs to vomit every so often, particularly if they’ve eaten too fast. However, sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious, such as an underlying condition. But how do you know if it’s serious? And should you go to the vet? Keep reading to find out the possible reasons why your dog may be vomiting, the signs when it’s serious and you need to go the the vet, and treatment.
Is there a difference between vomiting and regurgitation?
Vomiting and regurgitation are often confused, but there is a difference. When your dog vomits they are forcefully removing the contents of their stomach. Vomiting causes the muscles to contract and the whole body to tense. It also has a sour small and usually contains partially digested food and yellow bile. Your pet may also show signs beforehand commonly associated with vomiting, such as heaving, drooling and retching.
Whereas regurgitation is the removal of undigested food which usually has only just reached your dog’s stomach, or is still in the oesophagus. It is an effortless expulsion without any muscle contraction. And there is usually no warning. This is a very common occurrence for dogs who eat their food too quickly. If your dog does regurgitate, anything they bring up will not only appear undigested but may be shaped like a tube (this is due to the shape of the oesophagus) and may be covered is clear saliva. Compared to vomiting, regurgitation is generally not as serious.
How can I tell if my dog is going to vomit?
The common signs your dog will show if they are about to vomit include:
- Seeming anxious and restless
- Seeking attention
- Lip licking
- Swallowing repeatedly
- Heaving motion
What causes vomiting in dogs?
There are many different reasons why your dog may be vomiting. But some of the most common causes are:
- Indiscriminate eating habits, also known as scavenging or eating something they shouldn’t. This is the number one cause of vomiting in dogs
- Sudden dietary changes, or a potential food intolerance or allergy
- Bloat, commonly caused by eating too quickly or overeating
- Ingestion of foreign bodies, such as toys, sticks, or bones
- Ingesting something that is toxic
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms
- Dogs can also suffer from motion sickness
- Stress, excessive excitement or anxiety
- Heat stroke
- A reaction to a medication
- Neurological causes (conditions that cause dizziness)
- Severe infection
- Kidney or liver failure
- Gastrointestinal disease, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Other underlying diseases, like hormonal or metabolic conditions
When is dog vomiting serious?
If your dog vomits once and shows no other signs of being unwell, there’s usually no reason to worry. But if they show any of the following signs, visit one of our emergency hospitals or your local vet immediately:
- If you suspect they’ve eaten something poisonous or a foreign body (for example, sticks or toys)
- They also have diarrhoea
- You see blood in their vomit or faeces
- They are vomiting frequently, either persistently or sporadically over a few days or weeks. Dogs who have been vomiting for 24 hours require immediate treatment
- They are continuously retching unproductively (nothing coming up)
- Your dog seems to be in pain or discomfort
- They are showing signs of lethargy and depression
- They are dehydrated
- Your dog seems to be losing weight or has lost their appetite
- They have a temperature
- They are having seizures
- You have a puppy or small breed dog. Their size predisposes them to dehydration. Puppies are also at an increased risk of contracting serious diseases until they receive their full course of vaccinations.
If your dog is vomiting and showing any of the above signs, there may be a serious underlying condition. And a trip to the vet is needed as soon as possible, as early detection and treatment is often key.
Is there anything I can do to help my dog at home?
We always recommend seeing your local vet or closest animal emergency hospital if you are ever concerned about your dog’s health.
If your dog is a puppy, a senior, or has pre-exisiting medical problems, see your vet immediately. But if your dog is alert, active, has no previous health problems, and has only had a couple of vomits you may want to follow the below steps at home first:
- Withhold their food for an hour, but if their vomiting persists see your vet.
- Don’t let them drink large amounts of water, instead continually offer small amounts, and if their vomiting continues see your vet.
- After withholding their food for an hour, try a small amount of their usual food. If they vomit afterwards, see your vet.
- If your dog doesn’t vomit after eating some of their normal food, continue with small amount every hour.
- Gradually increase their meals back to their normal amounts over the next two days.
What will a vet do to treat my dog’s vomiting?
When you arrive at your vet, they will examine your dog in order to develop a treatment plan. They will also ask questions about your dog’s symptoms and their medical history.
What to tell the vet
Your vet will also ask for a detailed history of anything your pet may have eaten or gotten into. And if you can, the following will also be helpful for your vet to know:
- How often they have vomited and when did it start
- When they last ate and what it was
- The appearance of the vomit. Did it have a particular smell or contain any unusual objects? What was the colour and did it contain blood?
- If your dog also has diarrhoea and when it started
- Any recent changes to your dog’s diet
- Any recent behaviour or health changes
- New medications or changes to their medications
- Household spills or accidents, even if you think your dog didn’t have access to them are good to note
- Any new toys or items of interest they have
- Any access to toxins, leftovers, or spoiled food
- Samples of your dog’s vomit and/or diarrhoea are also helpful. Or take pictures if samples are not possible
Your pet’s treatment
Your pet’s treatment will depend on how severe their case of vomiting is. Treatment can include:
- Intravenous fluid therapy to treat dehydration the vomiting may have caused
- Pain relief
- Anti-nausea mediation
- Medication to protect the stomach and oesophagus
- A bland diet, such as boiled chicken and rice, may be recommended as commonly dog vomiting is caused by inflammation of teh stomach
Further diagnostic tests may be needed to determine the cause, particularly for chronic cases of vomiting. These can include:
- Blood tests to check for signs of infection, electrolyte levels and organ dysfunction
- Faecal test to rule out infectious causes of vomiting, such as viruses, bacterial overgrowth, and parasites
- X-rays to rule out any foreign bodies, and to look for abnormal changes that may suggest an obstruction
- Ultrasound to inspect structure of gastrointestinal tract and other organs
- Endoscopy, which involves passing a video camera into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. This is used when a foreign object is suspected to be stuck inside the throat or stomach. It can also be used to take some biopsies
- Surgery if a foreign obstruction is causing the vomiting. If biopsies are required of different parts of the gastrointestinal tract