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Dog Vomiting – Causes & Treatment When Dogs Throw Up

5 min read

It’s not uncommon for our dogs to throw up every once in a while, – especially if they’ve wolfed down their dinner too fast. But sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious going on. Learn when dog vomiting is a cause of concern with this handy guide.

As a dog owner, you’ll know that your pup can be notorious for eating everything in sight and this isn’t always savoury. From eating another animal’s poo to toilet roll tubes, everything’s on the menu! And this can result in dog vomiting.

When your dog is throwing up, it’s a way for them to rid their system of anything indigestible, but sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious and an underlying disease or clinical condition. If your puppy is vomiting, you may be wondering whether it is serious and you should be thinking about seeking help from a vet. Keep reading to discover all the possible reasons why they may do this and the dog vomiting treatments available.


Is your dog being sick after food? The difference between dog vomiting and regurgitating

If your dog is sick after they’ve just eaten, this can be related to both what they’ve eaten and how much food they’ve had. Were they sick after trying new food for the first time? Or did they start vomiting without any obvious reason? Ingesting toxic substances or a health condition can lead to a dog being sick. 

What is dog vomiting? 

But first things first. You need to understand the difference between when your dog is vomiting and when they are regurgitating. If your dog vomits, it means that they’re forcefully removing the contents of their stomach, which is usually partly digested food. They may also display certain signs beforehand such as drooling, retching and their abdomen may contract too.

Dog throwing up undigested food – what does this mean?

Throwing up ingested food is called regurgitation. This is the removal of undigested food which has usually only just reached the stomach or is still in the oesophagus. It is especially common if your dog has just wolfed down their food too quickly.

If your dog is regurgitating the food, anything they bring up will appear undigested and may be shaped like a tube (the shape of the oesophagus). It also tends to reappear fairly shortly after the meal. This is not as serious as vomiting.


Why is your dog vomiting? 15 possible causes for dog vomiting

There are many different reasons why your dog may be vomiting. This can be caused by intolerance to new food or by ingesting something they shouldn’t have. Keep in mind that the reason your dog is sick can also be more serious: heatstroke or kidney failure are possible causes too.

Some of the most common reasons why your dog is throwing up are:

  1. Dietary indiscretion – also known as scavenging or eating something they shouldn’t have done! This is the most common cause of vomiting in dogs
  2. A sudden change in diet or a potential food intolerance or allergy
  3. Intestinal dog parasites – worms including: roundworms, heartworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms. There will usually be a very heavy worm burden, however, before it causes vomiting
  4. Ingestion of foreign bodies – these may include toys, sticks or bones
  5. Car sickness and motion sickness
  6. Dog heatstroke – most often caused by leaving a dog in a hot car
  7. Reaction to medication or anaesthetic
  8. Viral infection – such as rotavirus
  9. Bacterial infection – including leptospirosis, colibacillosis and salmonellosis
  10. Dog kidney failure or liver failure
  11. Ingestion of something that’s toxic or poisonous to dogs
  12. Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas
  13. Bloat – most commonly caused by eating too fast or overeating
  14. Gastrointestinal disease such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  15. Other underlying diseases or metabolic conditions


Why is my puppy vomiting? 

Your puppy might be vomiting due to stress, a new food, or food sensitivities. More seriously, they might have eaten something toxic or foreign, in which case they will need to see a vet immediately. This is especially true if vomit often and/or if there’s blood in their vomit.

Like in older dogs, they could also be regurgitating from eating food too fast. Puppies can be very excitable - especially at meal times! It might be a good idea to get a slow feeder dog bowl for your puppy to help reduce the risk of regurgitation. Make sure to also see our guide on feeding puppies for more information.

Dog vomiting: when you need to worry

If your dog keeps throwing up more than once in 24 hours, or you notice that your dog keeps vomiting frequently or continuously and there are other unusual signs pointing to pain, discomfort, or a loss of appetite, you should get in touch with the vet.

Make sure you also contact them if your dog keeps throwing up for more than 24 hours.

If your dog is sick as a one-off randomly and shows no other symptoms of being unwell, then there’s usually no reason to worry.

When your dog is showing any of the following signs, then it’s time to call your vet:

  • If you think they’ve ingested a foreign body or something poisonous
  • You spot blood in their stools or vomit
  • They seem to be vomiting frequently
  • They’re continuously retching unproductively (i.e. there is nothing coming up)
  • Your dog seems to be in pain or discomfort
  • They’re demonstrating signs of depression and lethargy
  • They’re dehydrated
  • Your dog seems to be losing weight and have lost their appetite
  • They have a temperature
  • Your dog’s having seizures too

If your dog’s throwing up as well as showing any of the signs above, contact your vet immediately. This could indicate a more serious problem such as a gastrointestinal foreign body or obstruction, kidney or liver failure or even canine cancer. With these serious diseases the key is catching and treating it early, so always be on the lookout.


Diagnosing vomiting in dogs

At the vet, they’ll examine your dog and take into account their age, any other clinical signs, current physical condition as well as their medical history to investigate further. 

It’s likely they’ll also want to do diagnostic tests, which may include blood tests, X-rays or ultrasound scans.

If you are concerned that your dog is not suffering from a one-off episode of vomiting due to a relatively harmless cause, you should take your dog to the vet promptly.

Dog vomiting treatment

Due to the fact that there’s so many different reasons why your dog is being sick, there’s a variety of treatments your vet may administer. A lot of dog vomiting is caused by inflammation of the stomach, so one of the most common treatments includes feeding a bland diet (boiled chicken or white fish and white rice or sweet potato or a veterinary-prescribed gastrointestinal diet), alongside some anti-nausea medication. If your dog is dehydrated, they may need to be admitted to the veterinary practice for administration of intravenous fluids. Additionally, if it’s extremely serious they may need surgery and to stay at your vets for a period of time, so that they can administer frequent medication.

Hopefully, this guide on dog vomiting was helpful. We understand that this can be a scary experience, but knowing what to do when it happens is key to your dog’s safety.

For more information on dog digestion, see our guide on common dog digestive problems