Why Is My Old Dog Throwing Up?

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Old Sick DogThis question for our Pet Doc comes from the concerned owner of a 14.5 year old Bichon named Harley, an old dog throwing up

My Old Dog Harley Has Been Throwing Up

Harley has been throwing up every day, sometimes twice. He has a wheezing problem that stops temporarily when he throws up. Harley has slowed down a bit but seems spritley for a dog his age. He has been on an all vegetable dog food prescribed from our bath due to allergies. He has been on this for 5 years with out any skin problems recurring.

The throwing up started about 2 weeks ago and has been recurring more frequently.

Old Dog Throwing Up: Our Pet Doc Says

Thanks for the question. My recommendation would be to take Harley in to see your veterinarian very soon. Two weeks of vomiting for any aged dog is cause for concern and especially raises a brow when speaking of an older pet. Would you know Harley was sick if you didn’t see him vomiting? How is 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. If I were to examine Harley and not find an obvious reason to explain the problem, then I would start with diagnostic testing. Testing may include blood chemistry analysis, urinalysis, fecal analysis and possibly a radiograph. The decision as to what tests will be run will be made by your veterinarian based on his or her physical exam findings. Be sure to mention Harley’s wheezing episodes. These two problems sound as though they may be unrelated but be sure to mention all of your concerns. I hope this helps. If there is anything I didn’t answer or you have more questions, then please contact your vet.

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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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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.
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.
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.
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.

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?
I bought a pup she is fine had the all clear from vet but one of my older dogs is sick every time the puppy goes near her. Why is this? Could it be because my older dog is scared of the puppy?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Your dog could be experiencing some anxiety. You can learn more about it in this article but be sure to talk to your vet about it before giving your dog any type of medicine.
Hi, My dog is approximately 10 years old and started to poo urine (a stool but urine or pass wind and urine from same place). She’s now started to vomit after eating. She’s a rescue dog extremely intelligent but subdued. Does anyone have any advice?That would be fantastic ( we don’t have a vet near us open on weekends).
How does a 10 yr old dog all of a sudden start to poo fees and URINE out of the rectum? Urine comes from the bladder…then through the urethra.
Sophia Larson
My toy poodle is 13 years old. For the last 2 nights she vomits about 4-5 hours after her evening meal. She’s on a low fat GI dog food – grain free. The vomitus is mostly liquid with very small amount of undigested food. She’s not lethargic, she’s playful, drinking water, peeing and pooping. She only vomits once a day. What’s going on?
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Sophia, sorry to hear your poodle is not feeling well. Have you taken her to see a vet? We always recommend getting a professional’s opinion and hope that she gets to feeling better soon!
I’ve got a pit and boxer mix. I started throwing up this morning. I wonder what caused that. He’s about a year old.
You should go see a doctor if you are throwing up.
Brandon Martin

My 15 year old dog just started throwing up and acting sick. I put him on a bland diet and he seems to be doing better, but is still not having a bowel movement. I don't want to take him to vet, it will stress him too much. I want to do hospice care and keep him pain free and happy as long as possible, any info would be appreciated.

Sara Logan Wilson (Admin)

Hi Brandon, we understand you not wanting to stress him by taking him to the vet, however, we do suggest you contact your vet via phone. They will likely have recommendations for you to make him as comfortable as you can.


Whatever I feed my Yorkie rescue dog he has either diarrhea or vomiting with occasional drooling. I have had blood tests, urine tests, fecal tests, ultrasound and x-rays on his tummy. We can't find anything wrong with those tests. When I feed rice and cottage cheese mix he has diarrhea. If I feed him boiled chicken and rice he throws up.



Michelle Schenker (Admin)

We would suggest that you try another veterinarian for a second opinion. You can also ask one of the Vets Online and get an response quickly. Hope your pup is feeling better soon.


My Australian cattle dog, Bubby is in his 15th year now. He sleeps a lot and has arthritis in his hips. But other than that, he has always been a good eater and bowels have worked fine (except I've had to help "push" the poo out because of his sore hips). Last night Bubby threw up. He threw up again this morning. And again this afternoon. I'm hoping it's just an upset tummy as I gave him a little Kielbasa sausage that I cooked for my husband, which Bubby normally doesn't eat.

Bubby's meals consist of any of the following: range fed cooked ground beef, chicken, broccoli, peas, mashed potatoes, brown rice, and raw vegetable "smoothie" (carrots, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, red bell pepper). He's never thrown up eating any of these items. My question is: do older dogs that are close to dying start losing their ability to digest foods? And also the ability to control their bowels or urine? I also noticed this afternoon that not only was there throw-up in his bed, but also a small urine puddle near his pee'er.

He does not have the strength to get up and walk. I carried him outside and layed him on the grass then put him on his feet. He layed back down again. I had to carry him back into the house and put him back in his bed. Bubby and I have been best of pals since 1998 (rescued him from an abusive owner). The thought of losing him is too much to bear.

Heeler Mom in Hawaii


I noticed the date is September 2011 and I'm just curious how things went for your boy. I was going to suggest an urgent veterinary review as he may have had a bowel obstruction. I hope things are ok. Tash 🙂


My dog is almost 17 now and pure bichon as well! His name is Minkey, and he’s been throwing up sometimes as well. It’s usually only when he eats something out of his regular diet, such as a new dog treat or scraps that may fall while preparing dinner. But other than the vomiting he’s completely normal and even lively and energetic at times for a 17 year old dog. I don’t know why or what could be wrong. If the owner of the dog Harley reads this: please respond with some feedback over the last 15 months. How is he doing? Did it get worse? Or go away…