Why Dogs Throw Up
Vomiting is a common sign of an irritated stomach and inflamed intestines, or gastrointestinal upset in dogs.
While vomiting in dogs is unpleasant to witness and can be distressing, it is your pet's way of emptying its stomach of indigestible material, preventing it from remaining in its system or reaching other areas of its body.
Causes of Vomiting in Dogs
There are a number of things that can cause a dog to vomit, and sometimes even healthy dogs will fall ill for no apparent reason and recover quickly.
It's possible that your dog ate too quickly, ate too much grass, or ate something their stomach doesn't agree with. This type of vomiting may occur only once and be accompanied by no other symptoms. As a result, vomiting in dogs isn't always a cause for concern.
That said, potential causes of acute vomiting (sudden or severe) can be related to diseases, disorders, or health complications such as:
- Ingestion of poisons, toxins, or food
- Reaction to medication
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Change in diet
When To Worry About Vomiting in Dogs
The majority of dogs will vomit on occasion. If your dog vomits once or twice and then returns to normal, there is probably nothing to worry about. (However, we still recommend notifying your veterinarian).
That said, in some cases, vomiting can be a clear indication of a serious medical issue that needs urgent care. Contact your vet right away if you see any of these signs:
- Vomiting in conjunction with other symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, fever, anemia, etc.
- Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as food, objects, children’s toy, etc.)
- Vomiting a lot at one time
- Vomiting/dry heaving with nothing coming up
- Vomiting blood
- Chronic vomiting
- Continuous, repeated, or recurring vomiting
- Vomiting accompanied by bloody diarrhea
- If vomit appears foamy, or bright green (See below for details)
If your dog has been vomiting frequently or if it has become a long-term or chronic problem, you should be concerned, especially if you have noticed symptoms such as abdominal pain, depression, dehydration, blood, poor appetite, fever, weakness, weight loss, or other unusual behaviors.
Long-term, recurrent vomiting can be caused by:
- Liver or kidney failure
- Uterine infection
- Intestinal obstruction
As a cautious pet owner, it’s always best to prioritize safety and caution when it comes to your pup’s health. The best way to learn whether your dog’s vomiting is normal or not is to contact your vet.
Different Colors & Appearances of Dog Vomit
Your dog's vomit may be clear, yellow, green, red, or brown, depending on the cause, and the consistency may range from foamy or watery to semi-solid. So, what exactly do all of those characteristics imply?
That said, here is what some types of vomit indicate in dogs:
- Bright green or team vomit could mean that your pup has ingested rodent poison. Immediate veterinary care is essential! Contact an emergency vet right away or for further advice call the ASPCA poison control hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
- Black or brown vomit that looks a bit like coffee grounds can indicate poisoning (this is a medical emergency), ulcers, intestinal blockage, viral conditions, tick-borne diseases, or cancer.
- Bright red vomit can be a sign of gastritis, ulcers, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), foreign body ingestion (contact your vet immediately), trauma (injured stomach, hit by a car), clotting issues, heat stroke, parvovirus, or inflammation of the stomach.
- Light brown could mean that your dog has ingested chocolate (emergency care is required), swallowed mud or dirt, has an intestinal blockage, or has been eating poop.
- Foamy or white vomit can be a sign of bloat or GDV (contact an emergency vet immediately)
If you are taking your dog to the vet due to vomiting take a sample of the vomit with you for your veterinarian to examine. Why this may seem yucky can save time (and maybe even your dog's life) when determining the cause of your dog's vomiting.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has Ingested a Toxin
The best thing to do if you are concerned about your dog's vomiting, or if you suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic substance, is to immediately contact your veterinarian or emergency vet, or call Poison Control for more advice.
What To Do If You Determine That Your Dog's Vomiting Is Not an Emergency
If you believe your dog's vomiting is not due to anything serious, there are a few things you can do to help soothe your pup's upset stomach. Of course, we recommend that you call your vet to let them know what's going on; your vet knows your dog best and may be able to offer advice on how to best handle your dog's tummy troubles. Having said that, many veterinarians recommend the following treatments for mild gastric upset in dogs.
- Skip your dog's next meal then provide a smaller portion for the following meal. If your dog does not vomit again return to normal feeding.
- Provide your dog with a light on-the-stomach GI formula dog food from your vet's office to help ease them back to normal eating.
- Make your dog a light meal of cooked chicken and boiled rice and feed it in small portions.
- Provide your dog with plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.
- If your dog is not back to normal within 24 hours call your vet to book an examination for your pup.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.