Nothing can be worse than hearing your dog vomiting. We’re always upset when our furbabies aren’t feeling well, and we want to do our best to get them on the road to recovery. So what do we do when our dog starts throwing up? How do we help them, and when is it severe enough to warrant a visit to a veterinarian? Let’s discuss what to do when our dog is vomiting.

adult brown pug

The Difference Between A Dog Vomiting and Regurgitating

If your dog seems to be throwing up, it’s essential to determine whether they are vomiting or regurgitating. What’s the difference? A dog that is vomiting is forcefully ejecting the contents of their stomach. Vomiting might occur directly after eating or sometime after. The food might be whole or partially digested. Regurgitation, on the other hand, occurs when your dog ejects food from their esophagus; in laymens terms, regurgitation is simply coughing up food soon after ingestion.

Why Do Dogs Vomit?

Your dog vomiting is likely for similar reasons that we humans throw up; they have a stomach ache. Some possible causes of digestive upset include:

  • Eating too fast
  • Exercising too soon after eating
  • Food allergies
  • Motion sickness (from riding in a car, for example)
  • Drug or medication side effects
  • Eating toxic plants
  • Intestinal obstruction from a foreign object
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Gastritis (from eating rotten food or garbage)
  • Gastroenteritis (inflammation in the digestive tract)
  • Ulcers
  • Bloat
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

The above are just a few reasons why your dog might be vomiting. Throw up can also be a sign of other, more serious, illnesses. Chronic vomiting can be a sign of:

  • Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
  • Addison’s disease
  • Head trauma
  • Issues with the middle ear
  • Cancer
  • Brain tumor
  • Kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease
  • Meningitis
dog lying on couch

When To Call the Vet If Your Dog Is Vomiting

There are a lot of reason to cause your dog vomiting. As we discuss above, the reasons can range from  no danger at all to potentially deadly. So how do we determine whether or not our dogs vomiting warrant a visit to the vet?

Understand Different Types of Dog Vomit

One of the methods to determine if your dog vomiting is serious or not is to determine the type of vomit. As gross as this seems, it’s important to look at and even sift through some of your dog’s vomit so you can determine what might be wrong with your pooch as well as describe it to your veterinarian later, if necessary. 

Chunky Vomit

Chunky vomit has easily-identified food particles in it. This usually indicates the food was not in your dog’s stomach for very long. This kind of vomit often means your dog ate too quickly or ran around too soon after their meal. This can cause digestive upset that causes your dog to throw their meal back up. One way to combat your dog eating too quickly is to use puzzle feeders or throw a couple of tennis balls into your dog’s bowl.

Granular Vomit

Granular vomit is also often related to food your dog has digested, but the pieces are smaller. This type of dog vomit has been digested more than “chunky” vomit. Granular vomit often has more of a liquid component thank chunky vomit. Granules may be present, which look like coffee grounds, and indicate the presence of blood. 

Liquid Dog Vomit

Dog vomit that is a clear, foamy, or slimy liquid and lacks the presence of food is a different story. Liquid vomit without food particles indicates a health issue that has nothing to do with your dog’s diet. Instead of your dog simply eating something they shouldn’t, liquid vomit can indicate that your dog has a more serious issue going on. If your dog is vomiting pure liquid, with little or no presence of food, it might be time to call your veterinarian. 

Dog, Stray Dog, Baby Animal, Cute Dog

Reasons To Call Your Vet About Your Dog Vomiting

Most reasons you see your dog vomiting are harmless. Dogs eat too quickly or eat things they aren’t supposed to all the time. So how do you now when your dog’s digestive problem is serious enough to warrant a trip to the vet? You should visit your veterinarian as soon as possible if:

  • Your dog is a puppy. Puppies can quickly become dehydrated or have low blood sugar if they can’t digest their food.
  • Your dog is geriatric. 
  • Your dog is projectile vomiting. This indicates they have some sort of foreign object obstructing their digestive system.
  • Your dog is lethargic, refuses food, or cannot drink water.
  • He or she has preexisting medical problems.
  • Your dog is vomiting frequently or for more than 1 day.
  • They have anything in their vomit other than food, like foreign objects or blood.
  • Your dog is trying to vomit but nothing comes out. This is an indication of bloat, a serious digestive issue that can lead to death and must be treated as soon as possible.
  • Your dog has an enlarged or distended abdomen that is tender to the touch.
  • They have diarrhea as well as vomiting symptoms. This can quickly lead to severe dehydration.
selective focus photography of short-coated brown puppy facing right side

How To Prevent Your Dog From Vomiting

The absolute best way to treat a health issue is to prevent it from ever occurring. With a little foresight and planning, we can often prevent our dog’s from experiencing digestive upset in the first place. Here are a few tips to prevent your dog from vomiting:

Don’t change your dog’s diet.

If you are switching your dog’s food or brand, do so slowly. Sudden dietary changes can easily cause dogs to experience digestive issues. Use a gradual method of mixing a little more of the new food into the old food, slowly over time.

Don’t feed people food.

Feeding your dog table scraps can cause them to throw up or have diarrhea and some human foods are downright toxic for our canine companions.

Don’t let your dog eat garbage.

Dogs are natural scavengers looking for an easy meal. Eating old food, trash, or other scavenged items can lead to gastroenteritis, ingesting toxins, or objects blocking the digestive tract.

Give your dog size-appropriate toys.

There’s a reason many toys have size or weight recommendations; if your dog is playing with a toy that’s too small for them, they might swallow it. Even with size-appropriate toys, over time your dog may be able to tear off pieces small enough to swallow. You should throw away toys that are old or beginning to fall apart.

My Dog Is Vomiting: Is It Serious?

When our pups feel bad, we feel bad. All we want is to facilitate their return to the health, happy, bouncy dogs we know and love. Luckily, if our dogs are throwing up, it often isn’t serious. Knowledge is power however, so it’s important to recognie that signs that your dog vomiting might be an indication of a serious health problem. Knowing what to look for and how to respond when your dog isn’t feeling well can give you peace of mind in knowing when to consult your veterinarian as well as how to prevent your dog from getting a tummy ache in the first place.

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