Dogs can vomit for a variety of reasons, and while the cause of this health problem matters, without a doubt, it’s often less important than the overall development of the condition. The color and consistency of the vomited material are essential and can tell you what’s wrong with the pooch.
In this article, we’ll look at different types of causes, symptoms, and treatments of vomiting, and we’ll also discuss what you can do to prevent this mishap in the future.
Serious vomiting symptoms
We decided to start with this topic because it can be a little difficult to make the difference between a potentially life-threatening issue and an occasional bout of vomiting. Every dog will vomit once in a while, and this happens to any animal, and humans, too.
But some of the more serious clinical signs that you might notice if the vomiting is an indication of something that calls for medical care are the following:
- Continuous or projectile vomiting
- Trying to vomit without managing to release anything
- Vomiting blood
- The presence of bloody diarrhea besides the vomiting
- Fever and lethargy
- The smell of the vomit is extremely pungent
- Black vomit that resembles coffee grinds
In all of these instances, you have to take your canine friend to the vet as soon as possible.
Non-life-threatening causes of dog vomiting
As we have mentioned, sometimes vomiting can be a symptom of a problem that doesn’t really pose a threat to your pooch’s health status. If your dog eats too fast or too much at one time, the likelihood of him vomiting is quite high. The same goes for when he eats right after exercise.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your dog’s eating habits and make sure that he doesn’t have access to a large amount after you’ve gone out to the park for a run, for example.
Vomiting can also happen naturally if you change your dog’s diet without incorporating the new food into the old one gradually. Ideally, you should do this over the course of a week.
Some dogs can have food intolerances, especially to dairy or particularly fatty foods. In these cases, they will often have diarrhea, not just vomiting.
Last but not least, vomiting and nausea can happen in two other completely physiological situations — after surgery and because of motion sickness. Many dogs vomit right after being administered the first dose of anesthetic before an operation.
What else can cause vomiting in dogs?
Aside from the reasons that we have described, there can be more serious causes of vomiting, and they can range from the ingestion of toxic substances or foreign bodies to gastroenteritis, infections, or inflammation in a variety of organs.
Heatstroke can cause vomiting, too, which makes matters worse since vomiting causes even more dehydration.
Vomiting also happens if the dog has intestinal parasites, or Parvovirus or Rotavirus. Bloat is a potentially life-threatening condition that can also be characterized by vomiting, at least in its incipient stage. It can also occur in liver, kidney, and pancreas disease.
Non-gastric causes of vomiting
Non-spayed female dogs can develop an infection of the uterus called pyometra. Pyometra can occur around two months following a heat cycle, and it can result in pus discharge from the vagina. Because some pets also experience pain, they will try to groom the area and accidentally ingest some of the pus. Besides fever and vomiting, the dog might also be depressed and lose weight over the course of several days to a week.
Pancreatitis causes vomiting, and it can be quite severe. In this condition, the dog has a painful belly and can have a rather confusing array of symptoms over a longer period of time. This makes diagnosis difficult, especially since vomiting doesn’t occur often.
Kidney failure can be a rather common cause of vomiting in both dogs and cats. The kidneys can be damaged by toxic substances like antifreeze, or they can suffer from dehydration. In chronic kidney failure, vomiting can begin occasionally, and it can progress to frequent and severe episodes.
Liver failure can also cause vomiting, but it is usually associated with other clinical signs such as jaundice, seizures, or fluid accumulation in the animal’s belly or legs. The vomiting in liver failure can be so aggressive that it can lead to a bladder obstruction or bladder rupture.
Other non-digestive causes of vomiting are diabetes, diseases of the inner ear, or toxins (lead, insecticides, and other chemicals).
Vomiting can also show up if the dog has a hormonal imbalance. Addison’s disease, for example, is a condition where hormones from the adrenal gland aren’t produced in a sufficient amount, which can cause symptoms such as weakness, diarrhea, and vomiting.
When the dog vomits blood
There are a number of causes for hematemesis. Blood in your pooch’s vomit can result from a disruption of the esophagus, or it could result from irritation of the stomach or intestines.
Hematemesis can also be encountered in cases where the dog has ingested a foreign object or a toxic substance, but it can also be a result of trauma, certain drugs, an ulcer, or even parasites.
Dark red blood usually originates from one of the lower parts of the digestive system, whereas bright red vomit is a sign that the bleeding is happening in the mouth, throat, esophagus, or dog’s stomach.
If your dog vomits blood, collect some of it and get to the vet as soon as possible, without going into a panic. Diagnosing the problem usually calls for certain tests, such as a complete blood count, fecal analysis, organ screening, an X-ray, and a blood clot profile testing.
The faster your dog is brought to the vet, the better — as there will be enough time to get to the root of the problem and solve it as best as possible.
When to take a vomiting dog to the vet
The presence of blood in your dog’s vomit is by far the most concerning symptom of all, so that calls for immediate medical attention.
However, if this is the first time that your dog has ever vomited, it’s quite likely that you don’t need to take him to the vet unless you notice something out of the ordinary. Right after this has happened, pick up the food and water bowls and don’t allow your pet to have any. It’s a good idea to let the digestive system rest before putting more strain on it, at least for half an hour (for water, especially).
Your dog can survive without food for around twelve hours, as you might know, and while some vets recommend keeping water out of your dog’s reach, too, that’s not necessarily a good idea. You don’t want to dehydrate him, too.
As off-putting as it might seem, you should try to look through your pooch’s vomit before picking it up. Sometimes, you can find important pieces of things that he might have ingested, or you can find traces of saliva, mucus, or bile. Some dogs get sick right after eating chocolate, and it can be immensely helpful for you to realize that this is what your pet ingested — because in that case, you need to get him or her to the vet clinic as soon as possible.
If your dog has any of the following symptoms, besides vomiting, get to the vet and do it fast.
- Pale or white gums
- Abdominal pain
- Change in thirst
- Increased or decreased urination
- No appetite
It is also particularly useful to get on the phone with the vet. Sometimes, you can get scared without a specific reason, and the veterinarian can at least ask you the right questions so that you know how you’re supposed to act and what you’re supposed to give or steer your dog clear of.
If you have enough time and you’re feeling anxious about your dog’s condition, feel free to pop up at the vet anytime, so long as you call beforehand and make sure that there isn’t another emergency that needs to be attended. Otherwise, you might end up waiting for a while anyway if there is no one to give your dog the care and attention that he needs.
Diagnosis and treatment
First of all, vomiting doesn’t usually happen all on its own. It is a symptom of another health problem, and that’s why diagnosing the latter is the major priority in this situation. We’ve already mentioned some of the tests that your vet will recommend, and generally, the more of them are performed, the better, as they will lead to a correct diagnosis faster.
As for the treatment, it largely depends on the cause. More complicated causes can call for a blood test for pancreatitis, or one for Addison’s disease. Some of the common treatments include a bland diet or anti-nausea medication. The conditions that are a little more severe will need intensive therapy such as fluids, surgery, or hospitalization with injectable medication.
Different types of vomit
Even if you take the time to look through your dog’s vomit, you might not realize whether it’s time to take your Fido to the vet or not. Here are several types of vomit that you should be aware of.
Granular vomit is often associated with food. It’s slightly liquid, and it looks a bit like coffee grounds (only in terms of consistency). You might notice partially digested food or traces of blood, but the amount shouldn’t be alarming.
Chunky vomit is also food-related, especially since you will most certainly identify food parts. This means that the food hasn’t spent a lot of time inside your dog’s stomach. Therefore, your pooch might have wolfed down his dinner too quickly or engaged in exercise right after his meal.
Liquid, clear, or foamy vomit
Liquid vomit often has nothing in common with food consumption. There is usually a problem lurking underneath. This could be a good indication that you should take your dog in for a checkup, whether the vomit happens often or not.
Liquid vomit is commonly associated with health issues such as kidney or liver disease, pancreatitis, gastritis, or en esophageal reflux. If your dog is foaming at the mouth, however, it can be a sign of kennel cough, so take it seriously.
Preventing vomiting in dogs
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? So if you could make it difficult, if not impossible, for your dog to vomit, you would. But it is impractical and unrealistic to think that you can. However, you can at least make things as safe as possible for your canine friend, so that he never gets access to any potentially toxic substances or foodstuffs.
Do not allow your dog to eat table scraps. If you get him used to this, he’ll learn to beg for food even from people he doesn’t know that well, such as your friends who might come over and visit you. In those situations, accidents can happen, and your dog might end up eating things like chocolate, grapes, avocadoes, or even drink beer.
Since vomiting can also happen when foreign bodies are ingested, make sure that you keep an eye over your dog’s toys. Ideally, you should keep them in a cardboard box and have a look at them whenever you get the chance. This will make it possible for you to remove those that have been chewed so hard that they can split into pieces as these can cause digestive distress if swallowed.
Avoid feeding your dog bones, whether cooked or uncooked. These can break into sharp shards and cause severe damage to your dog’s digestive tract. If your canine buddy has the tendency to eat everything he comes across while you walk him outside, try using a muzzle so that you restrict his mouth movements and his ability to grab objects to munch on.
If you know that your dog has engaged in strenuous physical activity, don’t allow him to eat for at least half an hour until he calms down. The same goes for water. If the weather is really warm and your pooch is very thirsty, give him small amounts every ten minutes until he calms down and doesn’t want to drink as much as he possibly can.