Dog Vomiting

In another article, we discussed dog diarrhea . Dog vomiting can either accompany diarrhea, it can occur on its own or in combination with other symptoms.

dog vomiting sick golden retriever

If your dog vomits once but appears otherwise healthy and is able to eat without further vomiting, it is probably not an indication of anything serious. However, If your dog continues to vomit or shows other signs of illness, it could be a sign of something much more serious and he needs to be examined by his veterinarian.

Prolonged vomiting can also quickly cause life-threatening dehydration in dogs , so do not wait to seek medical attention.

Also, if your dog is attempting to vomit but cannot (dry heaving), take him to the veterinarian immediately, as this could very well be canine bloat.

Dog vomiting should not be confused with regurgitation. With vomiting, the contents are ejected from the stomach. Regurgitation is when the contents are expelled from the esophagus, a muscular tube through which food passes on its way to the stomach.

Regurgitation will usually occur shortly after the dog has eaten, and the food is usually undigested. You can bring in a sample of the expelled material to help your veterinarian determine if it is from regurgitation or vomiting.

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Common Causes of Dog Vomiting
Vomiting in dogs can be caused by something as simple as eating too much or too quickly, but it can also be the sign of a more serious illness, so vigilance in monitoring and dealing with the situation are vital.

Vomiting can be the result of either gastric disease (stomach and/or intestines) or it may be an indication of a non-gastric illness (cancer, diabetes, etc.).

According to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Primary or gastric causes of vomiting are those that are due to diseases of the stomach and upper intestinal tract. Secondary or non-gastric causes of vomiting are caused by diseases of other organs that cause an accumulation of toxic substances in the blood. These toxic substances stimulate the vomiting center in the brain causing the animal to vomit.”

Prior to recommending treatment for your dog, your veterinarian will need to ask you questions, perform a physical examination and conduct tests to properly determine the cause.

Some Causes of Sudden Dog Vomiting:

  • Eating too fast
  • Eating something distressing to the stomach
  • Dietary changes
  • Bacterial infection
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Toxins (including lead, insecticides, antfreeze and toxic plants)
  • Dietary change
  • A linear foreign object (such as string, rope or panty hose) that extends into the stomach or small intestine
  • Motion sickness
  • Obstruction of the stomach (such as with a foreign object that was ingested)
  • Stomach ulcers (often seen with blood)
  • Stomach cancer (often seen with blood)
  • Infection (bacterial, viral, parasitic)
  • Glandular disease
  • Diseases of the inner ear
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Pancreatitis (causes sudden, severe vomiting)
  • Tumors of the pancreas (similar symptoms to pancreatitis)
  • Bladder obstruction or rupture (causes a sudden onset of vomiting; left untreated will be fatal in just a few days)
  • Pyometra (a uterine infection)
  • Viral infections (including canine distemper and canine parvovirus)
  • Ketoacidosis (a form of diabetes)
  • Addison’s disease (a deficiency of hormones from the adrenal gland)

What You can do to Help a Vomiting Dog
As discussed above, the proper treatment for dog vomiting depends on the cause. Some general guidelines, as outlined by the American Red Cross Dog First Aid Safety Series Vol. 2 are:

  • Withhold food and water by mouth for 8 – 12 hours (do this only for young adult dogs and those that are otherwise healthy. If your dog is over 10 years old, under 1 year old or otherwise ill, do not withhold food or water. Seek veterinary treatment.)
  • If your dog stops vomiting once food and water are withheld, offer him a small amount of ice chips to prevent dehydration, repeating every 2 – 3 hours (discontinue if this causes further vomiting and seek veterinary treatment)
  • If your dog tolerates the ice chips without vomiting for 6 hours, offer him a small amount of water (1/4 cup for dogs 20 pounds or less; 1/3 cup for medium dogs 21 – 49 pounds; 1/2 cup for large or giant dogs over 61 pounds), repeating every 2 – 3 hours as long as no vomiting occurs. (You may also add a pediatric electrolyte oral solution in addition to the water to help re-hydrate him).
  • If your dog tolerates the water for 8 – 12 hours, slowly introduce a bland or high-fiber diet (2 teaspoons at a time for small dogs; 1 tablespoon at a time for medium dogs; and 2 tablespoons at a time for large and giant dogs). Repeat every few hours, providing your dog is tolerating the food with no vomiting.
  • Over the next 2 – 3 days, providing no vomiting occurs, gradually give your dog more food less frequently throughout the day.
  • If the bland food is tolerated with no vomiting, gradually reintroduce his regular diet over the next 3 – 5 days, slowly incorporating it with the bland diet until he resumes his normal dietary routine.

If your dog continues to vomit, even after you have withheld food and water, seek immediate veterinary care.

Also, if your dog exhibits other signs of illness along with the vomiting, such as diarrhea, fever, lethargy or depression, due not attempt to treat him at home. Take him immediately to the veterinarian for diagnoses and treatment, as this may indicate a more serious condition.

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and tests to diagnose the cause of the vomiting and determine the proper course of treatment.

Tests your Veterinarian may Perform Include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Urinalysis
  • Fecal examination
  • A serum amylase and lipase
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen
  • Endoscopy (requires general anesthesia)
  • Laparotomy (an exploratory surgery of the abdomen)

Remember that although one episode of dog vomiting in an otherwise healthy dog may not indicate anything serious, continued vomiting can lead to life-threatening dehydration and can also be an indication of a number of more serious dog illnesses. So, be certain to bring your dog to the veterinarian if his vomiting persists.

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Legal Disclaimer
If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect your pet is seriously ill, contact your veterinarian immediately. This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.

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