Dog Vomit: Why Dogs Vomit And What To Do When It Happens
Updated: Jul 15, 2021
We all know that many dogs are notorious for eating whatever they can get their paws on, whether or not it’s actually edible. While sometimes this can lead to vomiting, there are many other reasons your dog could be throwing up. It's easy to rush to one conclusion or another but if you're too reactive, you can miss important clues for what the real cause might be.
Before we dive into the process you should take when trying to solve the mystery around your dog’s vomit, we want to point out that there is a difference between regurgitating and vomiting. Regurgitating is a passive motion that expels undigested food and fluids. Regurgitating can be simply caused by eating too quickly or chomping on something disagreeable. Whereas, vomiting is the forceful ejection of the contents of their stomach, including food, fluid and debris.
So, how do you tell the difference? Learn more Vomiting vs Regurgitating What Is The Difference Between the Two?
Observe what happens before the incident: Before vomiting, dogs will exhibit signs of nausea like drooling or contractions of the abdomen, but before regurgitating dogs can have trouble breathing or start coughing a lot.
Look at what comes out of your pup: If your dog regurgitated, then the substances are not yet digested and you may see the cylindrical shape of the esophagus.
Assessing Why Your Dog is Vomiting
How Often Does Your Dog Throw Up?
In order to assess why your dog throws up, the first question is: How often is it happening?
If it's rare, then it might be an acute issue that won't cause long term issues. Remember this could be a simple case of regurgitation or a one-time case of vomiting. Dogs will naturally regurgitate food from time to time but animals that are vomiting chronically could be dealing with something more serious.
What Happens When Your Dog Vomits?
A) Do They Seem Better Afterwards and Go Back to Their Happy Selves?
If yes, then the crisis has likely been averted. We still recommend that you continue to observe them closely but if all is well, continue on! If not, it’s time to keep reading....
B) Do They Continue to Vomit and Look Nauseated for Several Hours?
If yes, be sure to give them a break from food. Fasting for 12 hours can really help dogs in this situation. Monitor closely over the next 24 hours. Try feeding some bone broth after the 12 hour fasting period. If vomiting continues, it's a good idea to book a wellness check with your vet.
C) Do They Have Any Other Gastrointestinal Troubles Like Diarrhea?
If yes, your dog might have eaten something funny. Monitor closely and follow step "b" instructions.
D) Are They Lethargic or Refusing Food?
Lethargy can be a sign of dehydration and that your dog really isn't well. It is definitely a good time to call the vet! IV fluids can make a big difference in helping your dog recover. Also, did you know that antibiotics can exacerbate the issue? Opt for fluids first before administering unnecessary, potentially harmful drugs to your dog's GI system. If antibiotics are necessary, be sure to have a plan for restoring the gut afterwards. Otherwise, you can end up on a tummy-upset rollercoaster.
D) Is Your Dog Vomiting Even After Drinking Water?
If your dog is vomiting even after drinking water accompanied by lethargy after 24 hours, it's important to get to the vet. This is a sign that there might be something more serious going on.
4 Reasons Your Dog May Vomit
1. Grass Eating
Does your dog chow down on grass in the spring or when they find new growth grass? That's because it's sweet! They like the taste. And… sometimes they can over-indulge. If they throw up after eating a lot of grass, it doesn't always mean there's something wrong. If it's a chronic thing, it might be worth offering some extra GI support in the form of herbs, pro & prebiotics.
Did you know that grass is actually an awesome prebiotic too? If your dog is happy and healthy other than eating grass, there’s no need to be concerned!
2. Eating too Fast
Do you have a dog that literally "wolfs" their food down? Eating too quickly can cause tummy upset. If your dog inhales their food and then regurgitates or vomits on a regular basis, consider a slow-feeding system that encourages them to eat in a timely fashion.
Many people also recommend hand-feeding (if you’re okay with handling raw ingredients). This can be beneficial in many ways, including making your dog’s brain work if you do tricks with them beforehand, slowing down your pup’s eating habits and creating stronger engagement between you! People do this often with kibble for training purposes, but it can also be done with raw diets - consider using reusable plastic gloves.
3. Chronic Vomiting
If your dog vomits several times per week, this is a sign that there might be some more serious issues going on in the GI system. If they have recently had antibiotic treatment or have a history of antibiotic use, they may need some support to get their gut healthy again since antibiotics can disturb the microbiome. NSAID drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) can also disturb the gut so it's important to support your pet daily if they need to have this type of medication.
Other things that can cause frequent vomiting: an inflammatory diet, allergies, stress or underlying illness including irritable bowel disease, allergies, pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, kidney or liver disease and more. All of these possibilities should be explored with your vet.
Read more about supplementing raw diets here
4. Food Safety
Make sure you're using HACCP certified raw foods. This will virtually eliminate the risk of pathogens and allow you to stay worry-free while feeding raw. Also, tell your vet about our HACCP food safety program so they can understand that you're not just feeding any old thing.
To read about our HACCP program, we have a whole article about it!
It’s important that we don't always blame the food when something happens to our pets. Vomiting is a disturbance in the gastrointestinal system, which doesn't always relate directly to food. Make sure you view the entire picture before deciding what to do next. We know it’s stressful, especially if you’re a new dog owner, but try to stay calm! This helps you logically assess the situation, not get stressed out and help your dog stay calm as well.
Importance of Finding A Raw-Friendly Vet!
If your vet isn't raw-friendly, they may blame vomiting on food instead of investigating further into your dog's case. If you're choosing to feed raw, it's important that your vet supports this and understands the raw food diet in its totality with no biases.
If you don't already have one, you can check out our Find A Vet page where we are happy to recommend a reputable vet in your area!