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Dog Vomiting

Dog vomiting is very common and is a symptom usually related to stomach problems, such as gastritis and stomach ulcers. However, there are other health issues, some serious, that can cause a dog to vomit as well. Read on to find out more about some causes and treatment of canine vomiting.

Dog with Tongue Out
Vomiting occurs in dogs rather frequently because the area that controls and activates vomiting in a dog's brain is well developed.

There are telltale signs that a dog is going to throw up. For example, the dog will feel anxious and restless. He will usually go to his owner for attention and comfort. Just before vomiting, the dog will drool and swallow repeatedly.

Do not confuse vomiting with regurgitation. Vomiting is a forceful ejection of contents of the stomach and upper intestine. The vomitus is sour smelling and contains partially digested foods and yellow bile. Regurgitation is a relatively effortless expulsion of undigested food from the esophagus.

Causes of Dog Vomiting

Sudden onset of vomiting in dogs is almost always a symptom of stomach problems. The most common cause is gastritis, often as a result of eating garbage or spoiled foods. Ingestion of toxins (e.g. antifreeze), grass or hairballs can also cause vomiting. Eating too fast and exercising immediately after eating can also cause canine vomiting. Dogs suffering from bloat will have unproductive vomiting.

Other stomach problems that cause chronic vomiting include stomach ulcers, and stomach or upper intestinal cancer.

Besides stomach problems, many acute infectious diseases (e.g. canine distemper, canine parvovirus) also cause acute vomiting.

Chronic diseases that cause vomiting in dogs include:

Types of Dog Vomiting

Here is a deeper look at the various types of vomiting and their possible underlying causes:
  • Persistent Vomiting

    Sudden repeated retching and vomiting that brings up a frothy and clear fluid suggests a stomach irritation (such as gastritis).

    Sometimes, persistent vomiting may suggest more serious health problems, such as acute pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction, and peritonitis (infection in the abdominal cavity).

    Persistent retching and unsuccessful attempts to vomit (unproductive vomiting) is a typical sign of bloat.
  • Sporadic Vomiting

    Vomiting on and off over a period of several days or even weeks may indicate that the dog is suffering from certain chronic diseases, such as stomach ulcers, chronic gastritis, liver or kidney disease, worm infestation, or diabetes mellitus.

    If an older dog is suffering from sporadic vomiting, he may have stomach or intestinal cancer.

    Dogs suffering from sporadic vomiting should have a thorough medical check-up to find out the underlying cause.
  • Vomiting Blood

    If the vomitus contains blood, it may be fresh, red blood or old and partially digested blood that looks like coffee grounds. Dogs vomiting blood are most likely to have stomach ulcers, stomach cancer or uremia (kidney failure).

    Dogs vomiting blood should be checked and treated by a veterinarian immediately.

Treatment of Dog Vomiting

Occasional episodes of acute vomiting can be treated at home, if your dog is active and has had no previous health problems. However, if your dog is a young puppy, an older dog, or has a pre-existing chronic disease, it is advisable to seek veterinary advice.

Home treatment for vomiting includes fasting the dog, and giving fluids to prevent or treat dehydration.

If your dog is having a bout of acute vomiting, try to fast (no food and water) your dog for a minimum of 12 hours. If vomiting stops, give your dog ice cubes to lick every three to four hours, then gradually increase the amount of water if vomiting does not reoccur. You may also want to give your dog small amounts of a pediatric electrolyte solution in addition to the water.

After 12 hours with no vomiting, small amounts of food (should be low in fat) can be given 3-6 times daily for a few days. Then increase the amount of food gradually until your dog can resume his normal diet.

An example of bland food is two parts boiled rice mixed with one part boiled ground beef or chicken.

Important!

You should take your dog to the vet if:
  • Vomiting continues despite food and water are withheld
  • Vomiting recurs when food and water are reintroduced
  • The vomitus contains blood
  • The dog looks weak and dehydrated
  • The dog has a fever of over 103°F
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