All dog owners find their dog vomiting worrying. A canine throwing up may heave out yellow bile, white foam, or whole chunks of undigested food. When this happens, the first question that jumps to any owner’s mind is, “why is my dog throwing up?”. It is even worse if it is a puppy throwing up.
Whatever the dog’s age, vomiting will be an issue every owner has to deal with sooner or later.
Usually, it is merely a case of mopping up and keeping an eye on it, but sometimes it is the first indication of something seriously wrong.
Regurgitation vs. Vomiting
Vomiting is a forceful expulsion of food and bile from the dog’s stomach or upper digestive tract. The contents can range from watery slime to yellow bile or half-digested food. In some cases, the dog vomits up something it should never have eaten, such as an old sock or a bone it dug out of the garbage.
Signs that your dog is about to vomit:
- Eating grass
- Excessive drooling
- Restlessness or looking to you for comfort
- Repeated heaving noises together with a contracting stomach
On the other hand, regurgitation is simply the dog releasing undigested food, mucous, or water from its esophagus. Unlike vomiting, there is little or no warning with regurgitation. The dog will simply expel the undigested food that hasn’t yet reached its stomach.
Usually, regurgitation is no more than a sign that your dog ate too much, too fast..
However, in a few cases, chronic regurgitation may be a symptom of a congenital issue.
Causes of Regurgitation May Include:
- Enlarged esophagus
- Gastric Reflux
- Swallowed foreign object
Why is My Dog Throwing Up Undigested Food?
Undigested food is possibly regurgitated instead of being thrown up. Regardless, there are many reasons a dog may throw up wholly or partially undigested food.
Among the most common causes is gastritis, which is inflammation of the stomach lining. It is also likely to be simple regurgitation because the dog ate too fast or too much or is over-excited or nervous.
Not all vomit is undigested food. It is essential to recognize the kind of vomit you are dealing with if you need to describe it to the vet.
Other Kinds of Dog Vomit:
Yellow vomit is a sign of bile and that your dog is throwing up on an empty stomach. Sometimes yellow vomit accompanies foreign objects such as stones, bone fragments or grass, that your dog may have been struggling to digest.
These foreign objects are usually the result of dietary indiscretion in dogs and the most common cause of garbage gut.
Foamy White Vomit
Like yellow vomit, white vomit with foam is an indication of an empty stomach. The foam indicates gas or air in the tummy, and may be a warning sign of bloat.
Another indication that the dog has emptied its stomach of food, throwing up clear liquid usually happens if the dog struggles to hold down water.
Occasionally, mucous and slime from the dog’s throat pool in its stomach, inducing nausea and causing it to throw up a mucous-like slime.
A slight pink tinge in your dog’s vomit is not necessarily serious. However, if you notice fresh blood, blood clots, or brownish clots in your dog’s vomit, it may be an indication of bleeding in the stomach or upper intestine. This should be taken straight to the vet.
Worms in Vomit
In extreme worm infestation cases, a dog may throw up these internal parasites. It is best to deworm dogs every four to six months to prevent this.
What Can Cause Vomiting in Dogs?
Vomiting in dogs is a widespread symptom and can be an indication of a wide range of ailments.
Less severe but common causes of vomiting in dogs:
- Garbage gut
- Eating too many fatty, rich or spicy foods
- Sudden change in diets with dogs with sensitive stomachs
- Sudden addition of supplements like probiotics
- Ingesting foreign objects like rocks, clothing, toys, or dirt.
- Motion sickness—usually from a car ride
Moderately serious causes of vomiting in dogs:
- Food allergies
- Intestinal parasites such as worms
Severe causes of vomiting in dogs:
- Viral infections such as parvovirus, rabies, or influenza, especially in young dogs who have not built up a proper immunity.
- Chronic diseases such as kidney or liver failure, addison’s and cushing’s disease, cancer, inner ear problems, diabetes mellitus or pancreatitis
How Can I Settle My Dog’s Upset Stomach?
Suppose your dog is vomiting but showing no other signs of something serious, such as bloody diarrhea, refusal to eat, lethargy, pale gums, or dehydration. In that case, you can try the following to settle their stomach:
- Fast your dog for between six and twenty-four hours, depending on the size of the dog.
- Make sure your dog drinks water, but prevent it from drinking too much at a time to avoid further aggravation of the stomach lining. Ice shavings can be an excellent way to prevent your dog from drinking too much at one time, and frozen Gatorade can help keep his electrolytes up.
- If the vomiting stops, introduce bland food, such as boiled chicken breast and plain rice. 100% canned pumpkin—not the pumpkin pie mix with other additives—can help settle a dog’s stomach.
- If your dog shows signs of improving, introduce their regular diet gradually; that is, mix a bit of it into the plain food and gradually transition back over two to four days.
- Supplement their diet with a comprehensive dog multivitamin to ensure a complete and balanced diet.
What Can I Give My Dog for Vomiting?
Aside from the steps mentioned above, you should be very careful about giving your dog any home remedy for vomiting. A vet should always be consulted first about the best treatments.
Among the possible options are the following:
- Vet prescribed anti-nausea medication
- Vet prescribed antibiotics or other medication
- Slippery elm bark
When Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog Throwing Up?
Usually, a dog throwing up once or twice on its own is nothing to worry about. However, if the vomiting persists, and it is something that happens frequently, it could be a sign of an underlying disorder such as colitis or parvovirus, and it’s best to see your vet.
Other signs that your dog has a more severe condition and needs to see the vet include:
- Blood in their poop or vomit
- Dry heaving
- If your suspect they have eaten something they shouldn’t have, such as a stone or a poisonous plant
- Refusing to eat
- Apathy or disinterest in usual activities
- A fever
- A swollen stomach, which may indicate bloat
What If My Puppy Is Vomiting?
Most puppies with a high food drive will eat as much as they can physically fit in their bellies, which will inevitably cause vomiting. For this reason, it is crucial to monitor your puppy’s food intake and avoid free access to food or sudden changes in diet.
Similarly, using slow eating bowls or food puzzles for dogs can keep them from overeating too quickly is helpful and keeps them busy for longer.
Your puppy may also have food sensitivities, and so you may want to speak to your vet about trying different diets that suit your puppy’s tummy best. In some cases, the raw food diet helps with this.
Puppies also tend to eat anything and everything, often giving themselves colitis or garbage gut. Garbage gut frequently comes with bloody stools, which will typically scare a new owner witless. Nevertheless, a trip to the vet and the steps outlined above for dealing with vomiting typically sort this problem out without any hassle.
On the other hand, while vomiting in puppies is usually not a cause for concern, sometimes it can be an indication of something dire. Puppies are particularly vulnerable to highly contagious viral diseases such as parvovirus or canine distemper. They can also pick up parasite-related conditions such as worms, Lyme disease, or biliary, which may cause vomiting.
If your puppy shows any symptoms outside of simply regurgitating, it is best to seek help from your vet.
When Is It Time To See the Vet About My Vomiting Dog?
A dog vomiting once or twice with no other symptoms is usually not a cause for concern. However, it’s always wise to monitor the situation closely in case other symptoms appear.
One of the first things to check is if your dog is still eating and drinking. A dog who vomits once but is still eating, drinking, or even willing to play is unlikely to have anything seriously wrong with it.
However, if the vomiting persists and your dog begins to show any of the other signs mentioned above, it is best to immediately rush to your veterinarian.
In brief, vomiting in dogs can be upsetting and messy. The good news is that more often than not, it is nothing to worry about and can be handled at home with the steps outlined above. On the other hand, if your dog is frequently vomiting or shows any additional symptoms, it’s time to see the vet. If you have any experience with vomiting dogs or know of any tricks that may help, please share with us in the comments below.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.
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