Why is my dog vomiting?

Vomiting occurs in dogs as a response to digestive indiscretions, food sensitivities or allergies, infections, digestive tract blockage, and other underlying conditions.

What is the difference between vomiting and regurgitation in dogs?

Vomiting is the ejection of the contents of the stomach and upper intestines, while regurgitation is the expulsion of food and other contents from the esophagus. 

What other symptoms are associated with vomiting in dogs?

Vomiting frequently occurs in conjunction with diarrhea, gas, and bloating in dogs and can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and occasionally death.

What are the treatments for vomiting in dogs?

Vomiting in dogs may be treated with short fasts, bland diets, fluid therapy, prescription medications, and in serious cases, surgical intervention.

Vomiting is a messy symptom of gastrointestinal distress in dogs that many dog guardians face and that may cause serious complications for your pup. That's why it's important to seek veterinary attention for your furry family member as quickly as possible when you are unsure why your dog is throwing up.

Symptoms of Vomiting in Dogs

Some illnesses that resemble vomiting could be caused by a different condition. Active retching or heaving along with throwing up food or bile are indicators that vomiting is your dog's issue. Liquids, mucus, or white or yellow foam may also be visible.

On the other hand, regurgitation is more likely if your dog is bringing up food they've recently eaten, particularly if it's undigested food and there isn't any heaving, retching, or gagging involved, instead the food seems to pop out unexpectedly.

Regurgitation is the expulsion of the contents of the esophagus, whereas vomiting is the ejection of the contents of the stomach and upper intestine. A violent cough can also resemble vomiting in both appearance and sound; some canine coughs even produce foam.

Vomiting, regurgitation, and coughing all have unique causes and hence require unique treatments, though the distinctions can be slight. Any observations you make will therefore aid your veterinarian in making an accurate diagnosis.

Causes of Vomiting in Dogs

There are multitudes of diverse reasons why your dog may be vomiting. Some of the most common causes of vomiting in dogs include:

  • Dietary Indiscretions. Dogs are notorious for eating inedible substances including garbage, certain table scraps, and foreign objects.
  • Food Sensitivities and Allergies. Food intolerance and allergic reactions are disparate conditions that require different kinds of treatment but are sometimes mistaken for one another and can cause vomiting in dogs.
  • Eating Too Quickly. Dogs who eat too quickly run the risk of choking, gagging, vomiting, and even more dangerous, Gastric Dilation disease, also known as bloat.
  • Infections. Bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections can cause gastroenteritis with vomiting in dogs.
  • Toxic Ingestions. Certain plants and flowers, as well as household cleaners and other chemicals, may cause vomiting and other reactions in your dog.
  • Physiological Issues. Kidney or liver disease, pancreatic inflammation, or hormone abnormalities are all examples of underlying internal conditions that may cause your dog to vomit.
  • Digestive Tract Blockage. Foreign objects and other substances can become lodged in your pup's digestive tract, including the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, and cause a potentially life-threatening blockage that requires urgent surgical intervention.
  • Specific Cancers. Some cancers such as stomach cancer or mast cell tumors may cause vomiting in dogs.

Fortunately, most occurrences of vomiting in healthy dogs may be quickly and effectively treated. Sometimes, however, your dog's vomiting may be a symptom of a dangerous or even fatal underlying condition. If your pet develops any of these signs, you should take them to the vet right away:

  • Severe vomiting or heaving, even on an empty stomach.
  • Vomiting that persists for more than a day or two.
  • Any indication that your dog has eaten something that is toxic or could block their digestive tract.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting to the point of dehydration.
  • Appetite loss that lasts longer than a day.
  • Weight loss.
  • Lethargy.
  • Fever.
  • Spitting up blood.
  • Yelping, tense or hunched posture, and avoiding being touched indicate severe abdominal pain in your dog..

Check your dog for dehydration by looking for dry or pale gums and "tenting" on the skin. You can check for tenting by pulling up on the skin between your dog's shoulder blades and observing how it settles back down. Your pup is likely dehydrated if it continues to stand up like a tent.

Diagnosis of Vomiting in Dogs

The underlying cause of vomiting in your dog will determine the course of treatment. To rule out a foreign body, an underlying ailment, or other problem, your veterinarian may want laboratory tests or X-rays in addition to a physical examination.

These diagnostics assist your vet in identifying the source problem more, avoiding harmful complications, and providing more effective, and often, less expensive treatment.

Treatment of Vomiting in Dogs

Here are a few typical treatments for the majority of conditions that cause vomiting in dogs:

  • A short fast (12 to 24 hours) for otherwise healthy adult dogs to give their digestive system time to rest.
  • Bland diets like chicken and rice or a diet as prescribed by a doctor for dogs with sensitive stomachs, usually following a fast.
  • IV fluids may be necessary if your pet has lost vital electrolytes while vomiting to treat dehydration and restore a healthy electrolyte balance.
  • Rest is required to help your dog recover from most conditions that cause vomiting and other issues.
  • Some dogs will further require medicine and additional treatments, such as surgery, to resolve the underlying causes of your dog's vomiting. 

Do not administer any human drugs or over-the-counter medications to dogs without first seeing your veterinarian.

Preventing Vomiting in Dogs

You can reduce your dog's risk of developing conditions that cause vomiting by:

  • Maintaining a regular schedule of wellness care and preventative vaccinations for your pup.
  • Avoiding table scraps and choosing healthy treats for your dog.
  • Preventing your dog from eating things from the ground while you are out walking.
  • Limiting your dog's access to garbage cans, poisonous materials, and other items that might be ingested by accident.
  • Feeding your dog small, frequent meals if they have a habit of eating too quickly.

These suggestions may be helpful in preventing other health issues as well. If your pet vomits three or more times in an eight-hour period or has other concerning symptoms, don't hesitate to get vet help right away, as some conditions which cause vomiting in dogs can be life-threatening and time-sensitive.

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