Vomiting in dogs

Dr Sandra Karlsen
Lead Veterinarian
May 14, 2024

When it comes to our furry companions, dog vomiting is a topic that often arises, but it's important to know why it happens. Whether it's due to eating food too quickly or indicating a potential health issue, understanding the causes is essential. Let's take a closer look at the factors behind dog vomiting, differentiate between occasional occurrences and more serious concerns, and outline when it's necessary to seek professional veterinary advice. 

What is dog vomiting? 

Vomiting, also known as emesis, is when your dog forcefully expels stomach contents, often including partially digested food. It's a natural response, but frequent or severe cases may indicate underlying health issues.

Differentiating vomiting from regurgitation is important. Regurgitation involves the expulsion of undigested food without the forceful contractions seen in vomiting. It often occurs shortly after eating and lacks the signs of discomfort associated with vomiting. While occasional vomiting may not be concerning, persistent or severe cases should prompt veterinary evaluation, as they could signal more significant problems such as intestinal blockages.

What causes dogs to vomit?

Dogs can vomit for various reasons, often related to their diet or what they get into. Whether it's consuming something they shouldn't or having a reaction to a sudden change in their food, these factors can easily trigger vomiting. Other common causes include intestinal parasites, like worms, or ingesting foreign objects like toys or bones. But it's not just about what they eat—factors like car rides, heatstroke, infections, or even adverse reactions to medications can all lead to vomiting in dogs

In some cases, it might even indicate more serious problems like organ failure or poisoning. Remember, even minor vomiting episodes shouldn't be ignored, especially if there's blood present, as it could signal a more significant underlying issue.

What are the signs that a dog may vomit?

Before vomiting, your pup might seem restless and uneasy, showing signs like lip-licking, excessive drooling, and frequent swallowing. When vomiting occurs, it involves forceful abdominal contractions, often leading to the expulsion of fluid, froth, or food, which can be quite distressing. It's important to distinguish vomiting from regurgitation, as regurgitation is more passive and typically happens right after eating or drinking, without the mentioned warning signs.

What to do when my dog is vomiting?

When your furry friend starts vomiting, it can be worrying, but not every instance calls for immediate panic. Initially, try withholding food for a few hours to give their stomach a break. Then, ease them back into eating with bland options like cooked chicken and rice, offering small portions at a time. Keeping an eye on their water intake is crucial too; offer small amounts frequently or consider ice cubes to slow down their drinking.

Should the vomiting persist or become more severe, it's time to consult a vet promptly. Certain symptoms like blood in the vomit or signs of discomfort could signal a more serious issue. Your vet will assess the situation and recommend appropriate treatments, which might include medication or medical fluids. Remember, early intervention is key, so don't hesitate to seek professional help if you're unsure or concerned about your dog's condition.

Management tips for vomiting dogs.

Addressing vomiting in dogs involves a gradual reintroduction to their regular diet, blending small portions of bland food, and possibly incorporating probiotics for improved digestion. To prevent vomiting episodes, it's advisable to avoid sudden changes in their diet or treats, refrain from offering unhealthy human food, and opt for sturdy toys to prevent accidents.

Keep all medications securely stored, but in case of accidental ingestion, it is important to contact your vet right away. Maintaining a safe environment involves promptly cleaning up faeces and keeping hazardous substances out of reach, including household cleaners and certain plants.

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your dog shows any signs of vomiting, especially if it persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as lethargy or loss of appetite.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your dog‘s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

Don’t wait until the very end. It’s important to consider your pet’s end-of-life journey early, so that you, your family and your pet are all supported through the process.

When the time comes, we’re here for you. Goodbye Good Boy provides a range of end-of-life services to make the difficult process of saying goodbye a little easier. 

We offer quality of life assessments from qualified vets, specialist grief counselling, at home euthanasia from dedicated end of life veterinarians, as well as cremation services and memorial options to help remember your pet for their unique character.

We are with you at every step of the journey.

To find out more, you can call our team of passionate pet lovers on 1800 953 619.