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Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Undigested Food?

Shih TzuThis question for our Pet Doc comes from Emily in San Diego.

  • My dog’s name is: Toots
  • Breed: Imperial Shih Tzu
  • Age of pet: 15

My dog is throwing up undigested food. What do I do?

My dog appeared to be overloaded with too much dog food (not people food). And then tossed it all. All of it. My dog is throwing up undigested food! But now she’s looking to eat again – maybe because it did not actually get digested before you vomited? This is the first time she’s really ever thrown up.

When did Toots Start Throwing up?

First time today about 45 minutes after eating her dinner of Hills Brothers AD (very rich), approximately 1/4 to 1/3 can. She had eaten her Nature’s Recipe 1/3 cup about 2 or 3 hours before.

How Has Her Situation Changed?

The throwing up just happened today. My concern is that she wants to eat, but I don’t want her to throw up all over again. What do I feed her or do I? It has appeared to improve her “bellyache“.

Answer From Our Pet Doc

Hi Emily. Thanks for contacting us about Toots. The short answer on what I would recommend is to fully assess how Toots looks to you overall. Would you know she was sick if you didn’t see her vomit? If the answer to this question is yes, then I recommend you see your local veterinarian for advice. If she is otherwise normal, then try withholding food for 12-24 hours. Slowly introduce her food after that time and reassess. If there is no change after 24 hours or any further decline at anytime, then seek the help of a local veterinarian. Hope this helps and let us know how everything goes. Good luck!

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About Pet Doc

The pet doc is a veterinarian who has consulted with our site for many years. While he is still practicing and licensed, he volunteers his time to help us educate you, our readers, and has asked to donate this time and contribution anonymously. HIs 10+ years of experience in the field is invaluable as he helps to answer our reader’s pet-related questions. And hopefully, you will find his insights and helpful tips as much as we do.
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  • Cristina

    Regurging (vs vomit, vomit takes effort to expel, regurge is like food coming up & out without any effort) could be megaesophagus.

    http://www.caninemegaesophagus.org/

    Dog needs to be ELEVATED in a begging position to have the esophagus Totally vertical. Many vets misdiagnose!

  • Lori

    My pitbull of three years old just had a healthy litter of puppies. She has had diarrhea at least once or twice a day. Today she is now vomiting. What can I give her to make this stop?

  • Allison galvin

    HI! Just recently my dog began vomiting. He is a rat terrier and is eleven… How can I help him?

  • Anne

    I have a year and a half shih tzhu puppy. have noticed he wasn't eating much so i took him to vet she couldn't see nothing wrong with him gave him a steroid jag to help with his appetite it helped a little bit and have been feeding him boiled chicken and white rice he has been throwing up little bits and still not eating much the vet has suggested blood tests. could u help me the blood tests are expensive he's sleeping a lot and shivering more than he usually does.

  • donna

    My shih tzu is 4 1/2.. I've been feeding her the same food for almost a year but in the past week she has vomited a few times a day.  The only thing different is her food was in a bowl before and she barely ate but once per day because I think she was scared of the bowl. In the past week I have fed her off a paper plate and she gulps down each meal.  What should I do?  Does anyone think I should take her to the vet? Other than vomiting she seems fine.

    • Bonita M.

      I was just wondering what happened to your dog…mine is doing the same thing, she seems normal otherwise but throws up her food, had taken her to the vet and he said to take all food away from her for 24 hrs and then start small with ground hamburger and rice, well I did and this is the 4th day since and she is back throwing up again. It's been going on for a week now. He gave her antibiotics but nothing has helped, going back to feeding her two tablespoons every four hours.

  • tmj1

    My dog is eating his food in the morning around 7:30 am, and now (in the afternoon), around the same exact time today and yesterday, he is sick again. He was also sick again last night. He is acting fine, but I am concerned something else might be wrong. Any suggestions?

  • Anonymous

    If this is just a brief bout of vomiting without any other factors, then the article is probably correct: dial back the rich food and don't worry too much. Small digestive complaints like this are not uncommon, especially for an older dog. Rich food is sometimes just too much for a dog to handle, especially when it is markedly different from their usual diet. Being hungry again after throwing up is also common, for humans as well as dogs. It is just a natural desire to replace lost nutrients. Typically, if you make sure that the replacement food is not rich, it is all right to feed your dog after waiting at least several hours, as the article suggests. But allowing your dog to eat immediately afterward may not be a good idea. The digestive system may not recognize the difference between "normal" and "rich" food, if they follow each other too quickly. When you do serve your dog again, use small portions and wait at least several minutes between bites to watch for any additional problems. Serve clean water with the meal.

  • Anonymous

    Unless your dog keeps throwing up undigested food, I wouldn't be all that concerned about any serious health problems. Like others have mentioned here, you might want to just change the dog food. But, if the food keeps coming up undigested, there could be something wrong with the digestive system. Overall though if your dog is throwing up undigested food, you're probably better off than if he or she is throwing up digested food.

    When dogs (or anyone else) throws up food that has been digested, it is a sign of an illness. When it comes to dogs, repeated events of this can even be a sign of a deadly illness, such as Parvo. But dogs do eat some pretty disgusting things. In fact, it's a daily battle in my house to convince my dog that my sandals are not his personal snack or chew toy. I see him carrying things in from the burn pile and everything else. That kind of scares me because I don't want him to eat something that's going to hurt him. On the other hand, it's natural for them to eat things we wouldn't like grass. I would just change the dog food and monitor the dog for any continuing problems.

  • Anonymous

    If your dog 'Regurgitates' its entire food, STOP feeding it 'PURINA' dog food. Our Chihuahua mix never liked it. For awhile, we added water & some chicken to the dry Purina food but after a year he went from regurgitating once a month to after every meal. We went to the Vet, no parasites so we changed the food and now he is 100% okay.

  • Anonymous

    A lot of people are quick to suggest that throwing up is the consequence of an intestinal blockage and more often than not this is not the case…however, for our black lab it was! He managed to swallow a strip of pillow case which he got hold of and he had shredded it up so well that I didn’t even notice he had swallowed any of it. All it takes is for them to snag something when your back is turned and things go haywire! We knew something was wrong with Jet when he was unable to keep any food down, it was as though it was hitting something on the way down and coming back up again undigested…and that is exactly what was happening! We headed to the vet and did a barium x-ray and found the offending obstruction but by some miracle the night before his scheduled surgery he passed it.

  • Anonymous

    Now I know what to do if my dog will have such a disorder.

  • Anonymous

    My new puppy is 4 months and just got neutered. He is throwing up once a day and is eating grass. I have a vet appointment soon. But what do you guys think would cause his throw up problem?

  • Anonymous

    In my experience a pup throwing up food can be attributed to any number of things. From the natural grass eating habit dogs have to cleanse their stomach all the way to a serious intestinal issue. If the throwing up persists, I would recommend you see your local vet. You owe it to your dog!

  • Anonymous

    My dog had the same problem. I changed her dog food and she was feeling better. Amazing to me that someone would make dog food that not even a dog would want to eat?