Why is My Dog Throwing Up? by Katharine Hillestad, DVM
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Get to the bottom of Digestive Issues

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Dogs can vomit for a number of reasons, some serious and some not so serious, so learn when you should be concerned and what you can do at home.

Why is my dog throwing up?

Vomiting can be the body's normal protective response to your dog eating something nasty and maybe even harmful. On the other hand, continued vomiting can be a red flag for a more serious condition, including:

  • Intestinal obstruction caused by foreign material
  • Bloat (twisted stomach)
  • Viral, bacterial, or fungal infection
  • Exposure to a toxin (chocolate, antifreeze, poisonous plants, etc)
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Pancreatitis
  • Food allergies or intolerance

When is it an emergency?

If you see or suspect any of the following, take your dog to your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately (even in the middle of the night):

  • Multiple attempts to retch without bringing anything up. (This is a common sign of a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus, or "bloat.")
  • Vomiting with a distended abdomen.
  • Vomiting and collapse, pale gums, lethargy, or labored breathing.
  • Vomiting frequently or more than six times in a day, especially in young puppies or small breeds.
  • If your dog may have ingested a poison (such as antifreeze or rat poison).
  • If your dog ate something that could cause an obstruction (a sock, kitty litter, corn on the cob, small toy, etc), even several days ago.
  • If your dog is also having episodes of diarrhea.

What can I do at home?

If your dog has vomited once or twice but seems normal otherwise, it's still best to let your veterinarian know what's going on. They may recommend you withhold food for 12-24 hours, to give the stomach a chance to rest and settle down. They may also suggest you withhold water for 6-12 hours and then start allowing small amounts of room temperature water (cold water or large amounts of water can trigger more vomiting). If the vomiting stops, you can try feeding small meals of boiled chicken and white rice. If the vomiting continues, or starts up again, it's time for a trip to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Your veterinarian can examine your dog and do x-rays, blood work, and other tests. The sooner a problem is identified the sooner your pet can start benefiting from treatment.

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