Dog Vomiting: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment And Related Symptoms

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Dog's vomit in grass (caption: Dog Vomiting Causes, Symptoms and Treatment)Longtime dog parents know that our furry friends will eat almost anything under the sun, even if it makes them throw up immediately. Other times, our pups puke for no apparent reason. While occasional vomiting may not be cause for concern, frequent or severe vomiting can be a sign of a serious condition. Here, we’ll help you figure out why your dog is vomiting, other symptoms to look out for, what you can do to help your pup and when it’s time to seek veterinarian care.

Article Overview

Regurgitating vs Vomiting

First, it helps to know the difference between vomiting and regurgitating to help you and your vet determine a more accurate diagnosis of your dog’s condition. Vomiting involves the body’s process of forcing the contents of the stomach and upper small intestine, ejecting food, fluid and other materials. Just before this, dogs usually drool, retch and have abdominal contractions.

Regurgitating, on the other hand, is a passive process, appearing as if undigested food and fluids are falling out of a dog’s mouth. Signs of regurgitation include difficulty breathing and coughing just before food is expelled. Regurgitated contents are undigested and may retain the cylindrical shape of the esophagus.

Causes Of Dog Vomiting

Dogs vomit for all kinds of reasons, many of which aren’t a major cause for concern. But there are certain cases when your dog throwing up may indicate a serious health problem.

Non-Life-Threatening Causes

Eating Too Fast

Some dogs wolf down their food like they haven’t eaten in days. If your dog is vomiting right after eating, try smaller and more frequent feedings instead of one or two big meals. See more tips for dogs who eat too fast.

Dry Dog FoodEating After Exercise

Eating immediately after exercise can also cause dog vomiting, so be sure to delay feeding for 30 minutes or longer after strenuously walking or playing with your dog.

Change In Dog Food

Sometimes a change in your brand of dog food can cause vomiting. When switching up your dog’s diet, experts recommend to take it slow. Over the course of about a week, slowly start mixing in more and more of the new food into less and less of the current food until the transition is complete. Read our article on changing dog food for more specific details.

Food Intolerance

In general, dogs don’t digest fatty foods and milk products well. These foods can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence, so make sure you don’t feed your dog table scraps or high-fat dog food.

Motion Sickness

This cause is typically easy to determine — your dog’s tummy simply may not tolerate motion. If your dog suffers from motion sickness, keep his car trips to a minimum. For those times that require a car ride, ask your vet for recommended dog-friendly medications (Cerenia is a popular vet-prescribed drug). Dramamine is also generally considered safe for dogs (with your vet’s okay).

Post-Operative Nausea

Many dogs suffer from nausea and occasional vomiting after surgery, and your vet may have already given you a medication to help ease his symptoms while he recovers. However, it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet about any symptoms your dog is experiencing after surgery.

Causes For Greater Concern

You should consult your vet if your dog has an acute or sudden bout of intense vomiting, especially if he doesn’t otherwise vomit occasionally. These cases could be a sign of:

  • Ingestion of foreign bodies (e.g., bones or pieces of chew toys) that are lodged in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Ingestion of toxic substances. See which foods and plants are poisonous for pets.
  • Gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the intestines and stomach. Other symptoms include abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • Intestinal parasites, like roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms and protozoa.
  • Rotavirus, an intestinal viral infection that typically affects puppies and is rarely serious or fatal.
  • Parvovirus, a severe and highly-contagious illness (especially for puppies). Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever and lethargy.
  • Pancreatitis, a disease that causes inflammation in the pancreas. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, appearing hunched over, fever and diarrhea that’s greasy and yellow.
  • Canine bloat, a quickly-developing, life-threatening illness that requires immediate attention. Symptoms include foamy vomit (or vomiting nothing), a distended (bloated) abdomen, pacing, inability to lie down and more.
  • Heatstroke symptoms include excessive panting, drooling, diarrhea, redness in gums, the inability to move around and even loss of consciousness.
  • Liver disease, which can also cause a loss of appetite, weight loss, increased thirst and yellowish eyes, tongue and gums.
  • Kidney disease, which is more often seen in older dogs. Other symptoms include lethargy, diarrhea, constipation, depression, weight loss and increased thirst.
  • Cancer, which you can learn more about the signs of cancer in dogs here.

Serious Vomiting Symptoms

Sick dog with ice bag on headIf your dog is exhibiting any the following types of vomiting or related symptoms, it’s imperative to seek veterinarian attention as soon as possible.

  • Suspected ingestion of a foreign body
  • Vomiting with other symptoms, like fever, lethargy, weight loss, etc.
  • Chronic or continuous vomiting
  • Vomiting with nothing coming up
  • Vomiting blood
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Seizures

Dog Vomiting & Diarrhea

Many GI-related infections and illnesses can cause vomiting and diarrhea at the same time. This can also occur when your dog has ingested something toxic or simply not agreeing with him. If he’s suffering from both, it’s a good idea to check with your vet, as it may be a sign of a serious condition.

Dangers Of Dehydration

If your dog is vomiting with diarrhea or even if he has one or the other, the most important thing to do is to keep your dog hydrated. A dehydrated dog can quickly become seriously ill, so if you notice any of these signs of dehydration and your dog can’t keep water down, you should see your vet immediately.

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive panting
  • Dry nose or gums
  • Sunken eyes
  • Loss of skin elasticity

For more specific details on dogs suffering from diarrhea, see our article on how to diagnose and treat dog diarrhea.

What Is My Dog Throwing Up?

Old Sick DogIn some cases, the cause of vomiting is related to what your dog is throwing up. Knowing what your dog’s vomit looks like can help you and your vet get to the root of the problem.

  • Undigested food
  • White foam
  • Bile or yellow bile
  • Blood
  • Fungus

Note: Consult your vet immediately if you notice bones or other foreign objects, e.g., pieces of his toys, in your dog’s vomit. You want to make sure he doesn’t still have these substances lodged in his GI tract, which could lead to a serious and even life-threatening condition that can require costly surgery. Read more about intestinal blockage in dogs.

Diagnosis

Since the causes of dog vomiting are so varied, it can be challenging to diagnose if the reasons aren’t immediately obvious.

Questions To Ask Yourself

Would you know that your dog is sick if you didn’t see him vomiting? How are his attitude and appetite? How soon after eating does the vomiting occur or is it inconsistent? Can you describe what the vomit looks like? These are a few of the questions that you should be prepared to answer when speaking with your vet.

Needing A Vet’s Diagnosis

If you and your vet can’t determine an obvious reason for the vomiting, your vet will likely run some diagnostic tests. Testing may include blood chemistry analysis, urinalysis, fecal analysis and possibly an ultrasound or abdominal X-ray.

Treatment

Puppies drinking waterIt’s always best to follow your vet’s recommendations for treatment. If your vet believes home treatment is all your dog needs after a bout of vomiting, here are some tips.

  • Hydration: Make sure you keep your dog hydrated by giving him ice chips or small amounts of water. This will help him keep the water down rather than throwing it up.
  • Withhold food: Some experts recommend keeping food away from your dog for at least 12 to 24 hours after he vomits, but we think it’s wise to consult your vet about fasting your dog for long amounts of time.
  • Re-introduce bland food: When you re-introduce food, you might want to start with small amounts of bland food like boiled potatoes, soft white rice, chicken broth, well-cooked, skinless chicken or even baby food, before going back to dog food.

What Can I Give My Dog For Vomiting?

Like with humans, it’s difficult to give your dog any kind of medicine when he can’t keep anything down. But here are some common treatments you might want to consider. As with any treatment, always consult a vet before giving your pet medicine or supplements.

Pepto-Bismol

It can help to give your dog a little bit of Pepto-Bismol crushed and mixed with water (the amount will depend on your dog’s weight — consult your veterinarian). Be sure to ask your vet to make sure that Pepto-Bismol’s formula hasn’t changed and is still safe for dogs.

Probiotics

A long-term solution to ongoing digestive issues could be a dog probiotic. Probiotics for dogs work the same way as they do for humans. They’re formulas that contain living, gut-friendly bacteria found naturally in the digestive tract and other areas of the body.

The goal of ingesting probiotics is to maintain healthy levels of good bacteria, prevent gastrointestinal problems and boost the immune system after it’s been disrupted by illness, infection, antibiotic treatment or other stressors.

There are a ton of pet probiotic products available, so be sure to read our article that highlights the best probiotics for dogs and includes more information on how these products can help solve your pup’s digestive problems.

A Personal Account Of Life-Threatening Vomiting

Piper the dog sitting on sofaIn some cases, dog vomiting can be life-threatening, requiring immediate care and even hospitalization or surgery. Here’s Nancy’s frightening account of what happened with her Lhasa Apso, Piper.

“At about 12:30 a.m. on a Sunday, our three-year-old Lhasa Apso, Piper, became very ill. I was up with her all night and made an appointment with my vet early the next morning. He diagnosed her with a bacterial infection based on lab tests (bloodwork, urinalysis), then gave her a dose of fluids, injections to help with the symptoms she was experiencing, along with three medications.

The next few days were stressful. On Monday she did not eat at all. On Tuesday we had her back at the vet for more fluids and she did not eat that day either. By Wednesday, we were back at the vet at 7:30 a.m. X-rays confirmed she had Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) and she was admitted immediately.”

HGE is an acute disorder of dogs that occurs suddenly, without warning in young — 2 to 4 years old — healthy, small dogs. It is characterized by vomiting and bloody diarrhea, and other symptoms include a painful abdomen, decreased appetite, dehydration, depression and lethargy. HGE can affect any breed, age or size of dog, but vets see it most in small and toy breed dogs like Yorkshire Terriers, Pekingese and Lhasa Apso (Piper’s breed).

There isn’t a firm verdict on the cause of HGE. It can be dietary related, or due to ingesting a toxin; even pancreatitis can cause HGE. Stress, anxiety, ulcers, trauma, existing bacterial disease or parasites are all possible causes as well. This makes diagnosing HGE challenging, and if it’s not treated immediately and early, it can be fatal.

Dogs with HGE are severely ill, and the condition can be fatal. Dogs who experience HGE are more prone to HGE in the future as well. Because vomiting and diarrhea are extremely dehydrating, IVs with potassium and electrolytes help support the essential functions of the body. Treatments such as antibiotics, as well as anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal medications, may be administered. Dogs are usually not fed during the first 24 hours of treatment.

Piper was hospitalized and given two days of IV (intravenous) fluid therapy along with medication. Her pet parents are happy to report she made a full recovery and is back to her adorable self!

Piper’s Pet Insurance Claims

When Pet Insurance Makes Sense

In Piper’s case — and many other cases of severe illnesses — the cost of getting your pet life-saving care can add up quickly. If you don’t already have pet insurance, consider getting it. Pet insurance can help save you money at the vet (in addition to saving your dog’s life). You never want to be in the situation of having to decide between your dog’s life and your budget. Check out our pet insurance comparison for more information on the top 3 providers we recommend.

Watch this video to learn about the benefits of getting pet insurance and how it can help your dog and severe cases of vomiting (plus your pocketbook) in the future.

What encounters have you had with severe dog vomiting?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets).

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

Disclaimer: Information regarding insurance company offerings, pricing and other contract details are subject to change by the insurance company at any time and are not under the control of this website. Information published on this website is intended for reference use only. Please review your policy carefully before signing up for a new pet health insurance contract or any other contract as your unique circumstances will differ from those of others who may be used for example purposes in this article.
Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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Loretta Lee
My dog ate a Lego how do I make my dog vomit the Lego? Please help.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
You should contact your vet immediately. Legos have sharp edges and could cause harm to your dog’s internal organs. It may require surgery. Please keep us updated on how your dog is. We hope nothing serious is wrong.
Derek McDoogle
My sister called me last night saying that her dog was choking. I totally agree with you when you said that longtime dog parents know that our furry friends will eat almost anything under the sun. I will tell my sister to look for a local 24-hour animal hospital in case an emergency happens to her dog.
Timothy Crawford
Hey my dog cant hold any food down and keeps vomiting and shivering
Crystal
My 2 month old puppy won’t eat he’s throwing up clear stuff and pooping yellow slimy stuff
Robin
My dog is 13 years old this month. He is a Maltese. Never had problems with him until right before Christmas he got bilateral hernias in his rectum. Even before the hernias he had started periodically having vomiting spells. Maybe a couple days a week he would vomit twice and be done. Sometimes undigested food and sometimes clear mixed with slimy yellow. Well, he needed surgery for the hernias and they ran numerous tests to clear him for surgery because of his age. He is healing wonderfully and still acts like himself but a couple of days a week he still has vomiting spells and then gets over it. He eats and drinks well. He poops and pees well. I literally have to watch him poop to be sure he has no constipation because it will take a good 6 months for the mesh to heal good. All his life I have only fed him one brand of hard food so he really hates the canned high fiber food so I have to battle him sometimes but he is old and set in his ways. I feel like this may be a precedent of his age catching up with him. I am thinking of finding him a good brand senior hard food or for sensitive stomachs to see if it helps but unless I see him really changing his behavior or he stops eating and drinking all I can do is just love him.
Danielle
My yorkie had a new dental chew Three days ago and since has thrown up his food a couple of times. Do you think it was caused by the dental chew?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Has your dog had the dental chew before in the past with no issues?
Karen Wilson
My older dog has the exact same symptoms. The vets cannot figure out what is wrong with him. Multiple tests even one that needed to be sent away (motility) and nothing! Ultrasounds, x-rays, blood tests, different medications, nothing has worked. I can’t even add a vitamin supplement to his homemade food diet without him vomiting. If you have any suggestions or had an success with your dog I would be so grateful for your feedback.
Cat
My 11 weeks old Australian shepard was vomited 2 days in a row but it was in his crate in the late/early hrs. He was clear foamy. I took him to the vet for his 2nd set of Puppy shots and mentioned rhe vomiting to the vet and they said he is probably hungry and to give him a little snack before bed. So the 3rd day he vomited still the same clear foamy liquid.

Last night I have him a couple treats before bed and and morning there was vomit in his crate qhat looked like he vomited up his treat this morning I also noticed his poo was a bit watery.

Im not sure of this is the side affects of the shot or something else..

Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi, you may find this article useful. It discusses some possible reasons your dog may be throwing up white foam.
Michele
I have a 4 and a half month old boy pitbull puppy blue nose and yesterday evening he just threw up all his dog food I usually mix it I just started this new liver thing I don’t like liver myself could it be the liver I don’t know please help
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
If you just started giving him the liver and he threw up after, then it’s probably the liver.
Angela King
My puppy has been laying around a few days had diarrhea and clear vomit she will get up walk to my chair just laying around not drinking or eating
Casi
I read all the concerned owners messages and all I see you reply is “take your pet to the vet” I think they come for advice just because maybe they cannot afford the vet costs but do love their pets & don’t want them to suffer. But what’s the use if all your going to say is “go see your vet”??
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I wish we could offer more advice, but we are not licensed veterinarians. The last thing we’d want to do is misdiagnose a pet’s health and them experience further complications or worse. We always advocate that pet parents call their vet when they think something is wrong with their dog. We respect that some parents aren’t able to pay vet costs, but we also want to make sure that they’ve sought out the option in case costs are not as high as they initially thought or perhaps they can set up a payment plan.

We think it’s important to respond to as many comments as possible on our website, we want our readers to know that we are listening and we want to help when possible. We recommend seeking a professional vet’s help because they are trained in pet health. Most commenters on our website are not licensed vets (including those of us who work for Canine Journal) so we caution readers to take advice from anyone but their vet.

Additionally, some pet parents may not realize how serious a health issue may be. So we feel that responding with, “Take your dog to the vet,” may help them realize the severity of the health issue. Unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us when they’re hurting so it’s up to us as their parents to advocate for them. No one wants to make unneeded trips to the vet, but at times, it can be difficult to know when the condition is serious enough for a vet visit. That’s why we comment about taking the dog to the vet because parents may need a second opinion helping them know if it is important enough to see a vet or not.

My apologies if that was a long and winded response. I wanted to express why we feel it’s necessary to write those comments. I’m sorry if, “go see your vet,” is not the response you’d like to see but we feel it’s the most appropriate response we can give since we don’t feel it would be proper for us to diagnose a pet’s health without being a doctor of veterinary medicine.

Zena
My dog has been throwing up his undigested food for 3 days now and it’s whole pieces of kibble. He seems fine other than that. He’s drinking, peeing and pooing. We got him from a slaughter house rescue. He was at the vet 2 weeks ago for a check up and the vet said he is healthy. He is on a different food than he was on in the shelter but has been on it for almost a month now….any advice?
Julie
Hi, I have a 6yr old rottweiler and he is so sweet and loving. He does have some allergies to food and season change. Thursday he was fine, Friday he woke up with huge bumps all over his body and raised lines on his stomach. By that night the raised lines on his stomach turned red So I gave him a benadryl and hoped for the best. I woke up he was in the bathroom something he doesn’t ever do. The raised bumps did go down and on his stomach the raised lines also. But, they are still lines and red. So I gave him another benadryl and he still Ate and drank and by Saturday night the bumps all over his body are almost gone but his stomach still red lines. Sunday he has no bumps on his body at all So I think the benadryl has worked. Until now he won’t eat has diarrhea this Isn’t normal he never ever doesn’t eat. I cooked chicken and rice he wouldn’t touch it so I grabbed some chicken and talked to him until he ate about 1/3 cup or less Not good for a 108Lb big baby:( So I thought some is better than none? Then about 20 to 30 min later he threw up Everywhere. So now by Sunday night Monday Morning he is vomiting and diarrhea. Not eating but, drinking. Please help me know what this might be. I AM TAKING HIM TO THE VET
Priscilla Hawkins
what did you find out? Our Rottweiler is throwing up & diarrhea. He went out this am & ate a little grass but doesn’t seem interested in drinking any water or eating. No red lines or bumps or anything like that.
Sarah
My dog are a birds head. Ever since that she has been having diarrhea and vomiting and wouldn’t touch the dog food!
Sam Gu
My shih tzu throw up whenever eats Purina moist and meaty, even just one piece. I just did a final test, after she ate other food, then once that piece was taken, she throw up but retake all of them without issue any more. My other shih tzu has no problem.
Marin
My mom changed my 5 month old puppy’s food and he was fine then my grandma changed and he was okay but he threw up a couple days ago and he wont eat or drink for like 2 or 3 days now and he keeps gagging and foaming a little hes also had diarrhea
MamaMisha
Dog’s stomachs are more sensitive than ppl think! Especially when changing brands, u must always gradually mix the old with new food – can’t just jump between whatever’s cheapest this week/month!!
Curtis Nappi
I have a 12 year old Chihuahua female she’s usually pretty spry and doesn’t act her age she acts younger the other day I noticed that she has been pooping diarrhea vomiting last night all night but is still drinking water she has a dry nose and sort of a fever warmer-than-usual and not breathing the same she doesn’t want to be held but she wants to lay next to me can you please help me thank you
Lisa
My dog has been throwing up his undigested food about 3 hours after eating. He then proceeds to frantically and happily eat it again. It’s gross, but I’m wondering why he’s vomiting it up in the first place? Should I be concerned?
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Lisa, sorry to hear! We cannot diagnose why her dog is throwing up, but the best thing to do is call your vet. Good luck and hope he feels better soon.
Tara Tremayne
Hi guys not sure if its a similar situation but i have an English bull terrier male 5 months old and we have recently changed his dry food, but every time he eats the dry food he throws it up. but only biscuits i tried him with wet food and all okay but wet food isn’t filling up and he is looking very slim
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Did you slowly transition your dog’s food or did you go from food A to food B overnight?
Carol
My 5 yr old pit bull has been vomiting and diarrhea for the past 2-3 weeks. We are feeding her rice only,none of her regular dog food. She’s moving around,up under us,but not her usual playful self. She’s going to the dr’s tomorrow. She’s not an outside dog,and she’s always on a leash when we take her out.
What could the problem be,we’re concerned.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi Carol, I’m so sorry your dog is ill. What did you find out at the veterinarian’s office?
Janice
Okay, the vet’s actions ‘might’ determine ‘WHY’ your dog is vomiting, but if one isn’t going to submit their elderly dog to invasive procedures to possibly correct the intermittent vomiting, why bother performing the testing?
kristen
our dog is 4 yrs. old. The other day we picked him up from the vet from being gone for a few days. He’s had diarrhea and threw up twice since then. It’s regular brown color and is watery. I noticed yesterday that it had some trash in his poop. What do I need to do?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Since he was just at the vet I suggest calling and consulting him/her.
Edna
Please help my small dog has been throwing up and has diarrhea, now going into day 2 of 2 nights and day,hasn’t been able to eat or drink. She has always been healthy never sick before. Could she have some sort of virus? I’m very worried my thoughts are to take her to the vet. Any suggestions?
Aliciaan
Want did you do for your dog?
Tim
Does anybody else notice that every question gets unanswered. Everyone asks for help and the person who responds just says go to the vet.
MamaMisha
Yes & it’s ridiculous! New to this site by way of searching for an answer (up all night with a brand new pup puking) & after reading thru, ended up giving a bunch of answers… without getting any info I was directed here for – WTF?!
Like basically a forum where u hope to find an answer by someone else with knowledge, but considering answers are moderated – well good luck getting it swiftly as needed; it seems pretty unlikely here…
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Sorry, but we are not licensed veterinarians. It would be inappropriate for us to give medical advice and we could face legal consequences if we did. I’m sorry you were up all night with a sick puppy. Comments stay in the que until they are approved to make sure there is no inappropriate discussion occurring (cussing, personal attacking, etc.). We want this to be a safe place and depending when a comment is submitted it can stay in moderation for a couple days since comments aren’t moderated over the weekend typically (since we don’t work weekends). This article is not a place for immediate responses and we think it’s best to call your vet when something is medically wrong with your pet than wait hours or potentially days for a response from us. The last thing we want is something to be seriously wrong with your dog and we give you the wrong advice and you lose your pet. That would weigh heavily on our hearts.

Sometimes our readers offer their own experiences or advice to one another and at times it may help another reader out.

You can also reach out to this online vet service for help.

Edna
My small 13 year old dog has been throwing up and loose dark very smelly poop for one whole night and Day , she isn’t drinking or eating. She has never been sick before. I am worried and will most likely take her to the vet .
Ur mum
My doge is puking its food.it eats and then pukes it all out. She continuously does it.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
If your dog has been doing this for more than 24 hours, we suggest taking her to the vet. Best of luck and hope she gets well soon!