Vomiting 101

by Nancy Boland

A dog’s natural scavenging nature can often lead to sickness. They see something and eat it to find out if it’s edible. If it’s not, their body throws it back out the same way it came in.

But vomiting can also be a sign of a serious and sometimes life-threatening illness in our dogs. Here are a few facts to know about canine vomiting.

Vomit or Regurgitation?

There are two ways that dogs throw up.

When food stays in the oesophagus because it is blocked or won’t go down, it accumulates until it is overloaded and the dog regurgitates the food. Although this process may appear similar to vomiting, it is actually called regurgitation. This food often appears tubular in shape and undigested because it has not actually made it to the stomach.

But when the food reaches the stomach, it has to be forcefully expelled through vomiting. Dogs that are about to vomit usually become anxious and may seek attention or reassurance and exhibit signs of excessive drooling, licking and swallowing.

Why Dogs Vomit

Common causes of vomiting are eating indigestible substances, overeating or eating too fast, exercising immediately after eating, motion sickness, stress, and worms.

But vomiting also can be a sign of serious illnesses, such as ulcers, kidney or liver failure, parvovirus, distemper, and food allergies to name a just a few.

If a dog vomits only a frothy, clear or yellowish fluid, it probably has a stomach problem, such as acute gastritis. Not bringing up any vomit can be a sign of bloat, a very dangerous and often fatal condition in which the stomach twists inside a dog.

When should you worry?

If an otherwise healthy dog throws up occasionally, it usually isn’t a problem. But if you see any of the following signs, take your dog to the vet immediately:

  • Vomiting more than once per day, or continuing to vomit the following day
  • Projectile vomiting
  • Vomit containing bright red blood Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting despite not eating for several hours
  • Abdominal bloating

Vomiting also can be more dangerous in older dogs, dogs that already have health issues, and puppies. So keep a closer eye on those dogs and take them to your vet if they continue to throw up, because vomiting can severely dehydrate dogs

Help your vet diagnose your dog’s problem by paying close attention to when and how often your pet has vomited. Also mention anything else you noticed, such as blood in their vomit, diarrhoea, weight loss, a change in appetite, and lethargy.

Treating Vomiting

If your dog is healthy and has vomited only once, you should withhold food and water for about 12 hours to give your dog’s stomach time to rest.

After that, give your dog a few ice chips or a small amount of water to see if they can tolerate it.

If they pet seems fine with this, offer a couple of tablespoons of bland food, such as boiled chicken breast and white rice, every few hours. If he keeps it down, you can slowly reintroduce his regular diet. If he throws up again, it’s always best to get it checked out first for any underlying issues. If you’ve changed your dog’s diet, then go back to their original food to determine if it is purely a food issue.

Your vet may prescribe antibiotics, a diet change, or vomit specific medications to help control your dogs vomiting.

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