Why Is My Dog Throwing Up? Causes, Treatment, and Remedies

People sometimes approach me and ask, “Brian, why is my dog throwing up?” Well, dogs vomit for various reasons. Most of the time, it’s because they ate something terrible – like spoiled food or garbage.


Gross.


But just because vomiting in dogs isn’t always dangerous, doesn’t mean you should ignore it.


Sometimes, it can be caused by a health condition. Proper treatment starts with identifying the root cause of vomiting. We’re going to show you a list of possible reasons and what you should do if it happens.


It’s also essential to know the difference between vomiting and regurgitation. Because more often than not, dog owners assume that they’re the same.


Here’s the difference:


Vomiting is when your dog ejects the contents inside his stomach and upper intestine. It is also an active process, which means that your dog makes an effort to vomit[1].


Regurgitation is when your dog ejects undigested food in his esophagus. It’s passive. You will notice that your dog lowers his head to expel the material and may try to eat it again [1].


Today’s article will focus on dog vomiting.


Why Do Dogs Throw Up?

While an upset stomach or gastritis is a common reason, it’s not the only thing you should consider. Here’s a list of possible causes of dog vomiting:


9 Reasons dogs throw up

1. Consuming garbage or foreign objects

You already know this:


Dogs sometimes head to the trash and eat things that irritate their stomach. These inappropriate foodstuffs may include:


  • Spoiled food
  • Table scraps
  • Dead animals
  • An old sock
  • Mushrooms
  • Cat poop
  • Fabric
  • Plastic

Although disgusting, this odd eating behavior isn’t usually serious. However, know that it can lead to intestinal obstruction.


Make sure to limit your dog’s access to such objects.

2. Food sensitivities

Like humans, dogs can develop an allergy or an intolerance to a particular food. Dog food allergy and intolerance have similar signs and symptoms. (But that’s a topic for another day.)


The bottom line is, your dog has an adverse reaction to food. Studies on adverse food reactions identified these common culprits [2]:


  • Beef
  • Dairy products
  • Chicken
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Egg
  • Barley
  • Chocolate

Vomiting often comes with other signs and symptoms like excessive scratching (due to itchiness) and tummy troubles.


3. Motion sickness

Motion sickness is common during travel. A moving car may leave your dog nauseated and trigger vomiting. However, some dogs vomit even when a vehicle isn’t moving due to fear [3]. Younger dogs are more prone to motion sickness than older dogs.


4. Stress

Can dogs puke due to stress?


Yes. Dogs face stress from time to time, and vomiting is one of its signs.


As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to know your dog’s stressors. Possible stressors can range from inconsistent feeding time to a new family member to loud noises.


5. Viral infections

Parvo, distemper, and gastroenteritis are viral infections that affect healthy dogs. The key is to identify other signs aside from vomiting. Take note of these abnormal warning signs:


  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Purulent eye discharge
  • Coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

If you notice any of them, bring your dog to the vet immediately for further evaluation.


6. Poisoning

Here’s what you should know:


Several food items are safe for you but toxic to your pet.


Does your home have the following items? Below is a list of harmful foodstuffs that cause potential poisoning [4, 5, 6]:


  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Rotten apples
  • Grapes, dried raisins, and currants
  • Hops (a kind of plant)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Xylitol (in bubblegums, candies, and other goodies)
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Any food with excess salt
  • Fatty foods

If you suspect that vomiting was the result of food poisoning, act fast. Take your dog to the nearest vet.


7. Kidney failure

Vomiting is common among dogs with kidney failure. Dogs develop kidney failure for different reasons.


Acute kidney failure happens as a result of ingesting toxins or severe dehydration [1]. Chronic kidney disease can be caused by birth defects, high blood pressure, and kidney stones [7].


Look out for other signs and symptoms that accompany vomiting. Dogs with kidney failure often produce too little or too much urine. They also lose appetite and experience weakness [7, 8].


8. Liver disease

The liver is one of your dog’s vital organs.


It gets rid of waste products and metabolizes nutrients and medications. Diseases affecting your pet’s liver can make your dog really sick and cause many symptoms. Throwing up is one of them.


Various factors predispose your dog to liver disease. Age, for example, increases your dog’s chance of having liver problems. Other factors include breed and certain medications [9].


9. Pancreatitis

If your dog has anorexia, belly pain, and vomits repeatedly, he might have pancreatitis. Pancreatitis commonly affects middle-aged and senior dogs. At the same time, these dogs may also be overweight and have a history of dietary indiscretion [10].


What Should I Do If My Dog Throws Up?

The last thing you need to do is panic. Vomiting is not always an emergency – unless you’ve noticed other unusual signs and symptoms.


Stay calm and follow these three simple steps:


Step 1: Inspect your dog’s vomit.

First, move your dog to another location. That way, you can examine the vomit more closely without your dog tripping over it.


Take a pen and a piece of paper and write down the following details:


  • Amount
  • Material in the vomit (edible or inedible)
  • Color (white, yellow, green, brown, black, bloody, etc.)
  • Consistency (foamy, bubbly, liquid, etc.)
  • Frequency of vomiting

Take photos of your dog’s vomit if possible using your phone. Furthermore, scan your environment. Do you see wrappers? Chewed up dog toys?


Your vet will ask about these things to get a more accurate picture that will help with the diagnosis.


Step 2: Closely observe your dog.

For the next hour, observe additional symptoms in your dog. Vomiting that’s accompanied by unusual behaviors may indicate a serious underlying problem.


Contact your vet right away if any of the following is present:


  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Seizures
  • Changes in urinary habits
  • Changes in mood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty in breathing

If your dog’s condition worsens or doesn’t improve in 24 hours, get in touch with the vet. But if you suspect that he ate a poisonous substance, report it immediately.


Step 3: Call your veterinarian.

Now is the time to contact your local veterinarian. Be ready to answer the vet’s questions and take your dog to the clinic. Don’t forget to bring your notes with you.


Here’s what your vet will do:


He will ask you more detailed questions about your dog. He will perform a complete physical examination to detect abnormalities.


Tip: Show the vet a sample of your dog’s vomit if you were able to collect a small amount.


Diagnostic tests will also be conducted on your dog. These will help rule out and confirm a health problem. Tests include blood work, x-rays, fecal analysis, ultrasound exam, and a biopsy.


What Should I Do If My Dog Throws Up

How Can I Make My Dog Feel Better After Vomiting?

Wondering how to manage vomiting at home? Here are three helpful strategies you can use to reduce vomiting:


1. Withhold food for a few hours.


Offering more food can make vomiting worse. Withholding food allows your dog’s stomach to rest. Ask your vet about your dog’s next meal.


Switch to a bland diet temporarily. A bland diet consists of white rice, boiled boneless chicken or turkey meat, and eggs. Avoid seasoning or salting your dog’s food.


Feed your dog with small amounts of bland food. If your dog refuses to eat, do not force it.


2. Provide small amounts of clean water.


You may withhold food for a few hours, but not water. Water is essential to prevent dehydration or keep it from getting worse. If your dog’s vomiting worsens after you provide water, let the vet know.


3. Consider natural remedies for dog vomiting.


Regardless of the cause of vomiting, make sure your dog gets veterinary attention. That way, the vet can prescribe the right treatment. If you’re wondering what natural remedies you can use at home, here are some options:


  • Kefir and natural probiotics
  • Catnip
  • Hemp supplements
  • Lavender oil
  • Ginger
  • Electrolytes
Making my dog feel better after throwing up

When Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog Throwing Up?

How do you know that a problem is severe?


You should be concerned if:


  • Vomiting persists
  • Blood is present in your dog’s vomit
  • Chronic diarrhea accompanies vomiting
  • You notice abdominal bloating

Conclusion

A dog throws up at least once in his life.


Dogs have a bad habit of eating strange things as a way to get attention or relieve boredom. Often, it’s their way to satisfy the need to chew. But it’s also possible for vomiting to be a sign of a hidden health issue.


You can prevent vomiting by removing garbage and toxic items, so your dog doesn’t access them. Most importantly, keep him healthy!


References:

  1. Washington State University. Vomiting pets. – https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/common-problems/vomiting
  2. Mueller RS, Olivry T, Prélaud P. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. 2016 January 12 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4710035/
  3. Neer TM. Motion Sickness in Dogs. – https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders-of-dogs/motion-sickness-in-dogs
  4. Cortinovis C, Caloni F. Household Food Items Toxic to Dogs and Cats. 2016 March 22 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4801869/
  5. Kovalkovičová N, Šutiaková I, Pistl J, Šutiak V. Some food toxic for pets. 2009 September 28 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984110/
  6. Calderone J. 8 Toxic Foods for Dogs. 2018 March 23 – https://www.consumerreports.org/pets/toxic-foods-for-dogs/
  7. Washington State University. Chronic Kidney Disease and Failure (CKD, CRF, CRD). – https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/diseases/chronic-kidney-disease-and-failure
  8. Becker K. Your Pet’s Kidney Failure — Where’s It Really Coming From? 2016 June 22 – https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2016/06/22/dog-kidney-failure.aspx
  9. Center SA. Disorders of the Liver and Gallbladder in Dogs. – https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-liver-and-gallbladder-in-dogs
  10. Mushtaq S et al. Acute pancreatitis in dogs: A review. 2017 January – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322568035_Acute_pancreatitis_in_dogs_A_review

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