Vomiting in dogs

Vomiting is very common in dogs and, in most cases, there is no need to panic! Mild cases of dog sickness usually improve within 24 hours, but if vomiting persists for a longer period, then it’s best to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

It’s important to understand the causes and recognise the symptoms for vomiting, as well as the ways we can prevent our canine companions from throwing up. 

How to know if a dog is feeling unwell  

There are some tell-tale signs that your dog is about to vomit, including:

  • Licking their lips.
  • Excessive swallowing.
  • Drooling.
  • Eating grass.
  • Eating less than usual.
  • Retching.
  • Restlessness.
  • Neediness.

Symptoms of vomiting in dogs

It’s important to know the difference between vomiting and regurgitating (bringing swallowed food up to the mouth) to be able to determine what the problem is.

When a dog is in the process of vomiting, it will be easy to spot as they will heave, have body contortions and abdominal contractions. If your dog vomits as a one-off and displays no other symptoms of being unwell, then there’s usually no reason to worry.

However, if any of the following symptoms are also present, you should contact your vet straight away:

  • Abnormal behaviour and signs of stress.
  • Vomiting with nothing coming up.
  • Blood in the vomit or stools.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Trembling or shaking.
  • A fever.
  • Signs of pain or discomfort.
  • Seizures.
  • Lethargy and depression.
  • Chronic vomiting (continuous vomiting). 

If in doubt, Animal Friends (dog or cat) policyholders can access free vet video consults 24/7 with Joii Pet Care.

Causes of vomiting in dogs

Vomiting can occur for many different reasons. It is often the case that your dog has eaten something that might not have agreed with their stomach, or simply a change in diet or food intolerance. 

Dogs also commonly eat grass to make themselves vomit and get rid of something they’ve eaten and to settle their stomach. Chronic (frequent or long-term) vomiting could also be a sign of an underlying health problem. 

Other causes include: 

  • Ingestion of toxins, poisons, or foreign objects.
  • Reaction to medication.
  • Worms or other intestinal parasites.
  • Gastrointestinal disease.
  • Gut blockage.
  • Severe constipation.
  • Bacterial or viral infection.
  • Heatstroke.
  • Acute kidney or liver failure.
  • Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas).
  • Cancer.
  • Car or motion sickness.
  • Bloat caused by eating too much or too fast. 

What’s in my dog’s vomit?

It can be hard to know what’s in your dog’s vomit, so here’s some help:

White foam – If your dog produces white vomit, they could be vomiting up bile (stomach acid).

Blood – If there is blood in their vomit or a coffee-ground appearance to it, then contact your vet immediately. 

Food – Undigested or digested food usually means your dog has wolfed down their food too quickly.

Grass – We know our canine companions can enjoy nibbling on grass, so it’s normal to see it in their vomit from time to time. 

Worms – If your dog has worms, they may vomit them up. 

Treatment for a vomiting dog at home

There isn’t much you can do while your dog is vomiting, apart from comforting them and cleaning up their mess.

After the episode finishes, avoid feeding your dog for at least 12 hours. Then slowly introduce them to small amounts of bland foods such as well-cooked chicken and plain rice, and monitor to ensure their digestive system is settled. 

Remember: Make sure they are still drinking water.

Preventing vomiting in dogs

If your dog is about to vomit, there isn’t much you can do in the moment - there are, however, various things you can do to help prevent one-off vomiting:

  • Being in the know about what your dog can and cannot eat.
  • Keeping human medications, poisonous plants and other toxic substances out of wandering paws’ reach.
  • Using a slow feeder to help prevent your dog from vomiting after eating.
  • Making sure they always have easy access to fresh water.
  • Keeping on top of their regular worming and flea treatment to prevent parasites.
  • Keeping a close eye on your dog while out and about on your walks, as you never know what might attract them. This way you can stop your dog from eating something they shouldn’t.

Seeing your dog vomiting can be unpleasant and worrying. It can be a scary experience, but knowing the signs and what to do when it happens is key to your dog’s happiness and health.

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