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Welcome back readers. Today we’re going to dive into a topic that is not that fun to think about, but it is important for dog owners to know a little about. Recently, my lovely little girl Janice started having some stomach issues. I discovered this by waking up in the middle of the night to that really gross sound that many dog owners are familiar with – a dog throwing up. Luckily for me, Janice headed straight for the door when she felt the urge, so it wasn’t in my bed. Unluckily for me, I had no idea what was causing the problem.
Last update on 2018-09-22 at 10:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Dogs can vomit for so many reasons. I can name at least 15 off the top of my head, ranging from “they ate something that didn’t agree with them” to more serious issues like organ failure. Those reasons include:
As you can see, there is a big range of things that cause vomiting, which is why it’s important that dog owners pay attention to their dog’s behavior and overall health when they see vomiting. One way to get a clue if your dog is healthy or not is to understand what type of vomiting the dog is exhibiting. We’ll go over that, as well as some potential remedies, and when to call the vet, in this article.
When a dog throws up, there are actually three different things they could be doing. It may be gross, but learning how to identify which type of vomiting they are doing can really make it a lot easier to manage what is truly wrong.
The first thing they could be doing is regurgitating. Regurgitation is actually different from vomiting altogether, but many people lump it all under the category of “throwing up”. Regurgitation happens when a dog ejects bits of food (or whatever he’s tried to eat) out of his esophagus. The food never made it to the stomach at all – instead, the body rejected the food before it got further than the esophagus.
This most often happens when a dog tried to eat too much, too fast, or when they tried to eat something that wasn’t supposed to be swallowed. In this type of throwing up, a dog isn’t usually heaving from the stomach. You may hear what sounds like a hearty cough, and the item or food will be pushed back into the dog’s mouth. They may spit it out, or they may just chew and swallow again. If they do spit it out, it will typically be recognizable, although covered in lots of slobber. Think “big chunks of what is clearly dog food that you tried to eat too fast, silly dog”, and that’s likely regurgitation.
The next thing a dog could be doing is granular or chunky vomiting. That’s a gross name, but what this means is that the dog’s stomach is rejecting something. In this type of vomiting, the food, medicine, or other thing that the dog has eaten, got all the way to the stomach, and now the stomach wants no part in it.
When the dog expels whatever they are trying to vomit up, it will be partially digested. It may or may not be recognizable, which is why this is called chunky or granular vomiting. You’ll see little chunks or granules that indicate what the stomach was rejecting. If it is chunkier, it’s likely something the dog ingested recently. Granules mean the stomach had more time to break the food or other item down before it was rejected.
This type of vomiting is also often related to something the dog tried to digest, but it could also be something like a virus that is causing the dog to feel nausea and then reject food. This type of vomiting is accompanied by heaving from the stomach, and the usual “vomiting sounds” that so many dog owners dread.
The final type of vomiting is called liquid vomit, and it usually looks like slime, foam, or just clear liquid that the dog spits up. This is the more serious type of vomiting, because it’s not usually caused by something the dog ate. That means there’s usually a medical issue causing the vomiting. However, don’t panic – it doesn’t necessarily mean something as serious as organ failure. It could just be some acid reflux.
Keep in mind that dogs that are stressed or overheated often have excessive drooling going on, and could appear to spit up a lot of clear liquid. This may just be drooling. If they are heaving and you see stomach bile (thin yellow color) in the vomit, then you should look closer.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a dog that is vomiting what looks like white foam could have kennel cough. This is a common sign of this very contagious condition, so keep your dog away from any other pets until you have him checked out.
One final note before we talk about remedies: Vomiting is a very common thing that dogs do all the time. It could be caused by nothing more than the stomach being in a bad mood that morning. Puppies especially tend to eat too fast or overeat, so they may vomit occasionally. While it’s not something you should just ignore, you don’t need to worry about racing to the vet unless you see blood, foam, or your dog has been vomiting excessively and is showing other symptoms (like weight loss, lethargy, refusal to eat or drink, and so on.)
Now that you know the three types of vomiting, and how to figure out what is most likely wrong with your dog (hint: it’s usually something they ate), let’s move on to how you can make your dog feel a bit better. Some of these remedies sound a little like Old Wives’ Tales, but they all come from qualified veterinary professionals.
Before you start treating your dog, be sure you know when it’s not a good idea to give a dog a home remedy. In general, if your dog just threw up less than three times, and they still seem pretty alert and active afterwards, it’s okay to give them a remedy. But if they are lethargic, won’t stop vomiting or dry heaving, you see blood in the vomit, they have diarrhea, they won’t eat or drink, they already have another illness, or they are a very old dog, go ahead and call up your vet first.
The first at-home remedy you can try is to lower your dog’s food intake for a little while. Feed them in a way that slows them down, such as using a slow feeder bowl, and give them less food that usual. This can help their stomach regulate itself, get rid of any bacteria that may have been causing the issue, and “reset”. Usually just 12 to 24 hours of a “fast” like this is enough for a dog to work out whatever the issue was.
The next thing to do is to feed your dog a very bland, allergen-free diet for a while. For example, try giving them completely plain, skinless and boneless boiled chicken with some rice, instead of their dog food. Just be sure that nothing is cooked with any sort of seasoning or oil. Feed them this for a few days, and then slowly reintroduce their food. IF they begin vomiting again, there’s a good chance they are allergic to something in their food. The most common dog food allergens are:
There are many dog foods out there that contain no common allergens so that you can get your dog back on kibble, or you can talk to your vet about possibly making your own dog food and using supplements to ensure your dog gets all their vitamins.
If your dog isn’t doing well with food or water, try giving them some ice chips to munch on. This will help them stay hydrated without overwhelming their stomach with gulps of water. However, if they go for 24 hours without drinking anything, be sure to call the vet.
Some vets will approve Pepto-Bismol as a solution for a vomiting dog. If you want to give this a go, call your vet and ask for the correct dosage based on your dog’s weight and health.
A pet-safe version of an anti-nausea medication is ginger. Sprinkling some ginger on your dog’s food can help soothe the tummy after a car ride or after taking certain medications. You do need to be sure you get the right dosage from your doctor. The reason that this works is that ginger has a chemical compound in it that blocks a specific hormone which causes nausea in the body.
If your dog is frequently vomiting, try giving her some probiotics for dogs. These help to increase good gut bacteria which handles digestion easier.
Finally, be sure to consider if your dog has recently had a big change in her life. Did you move, bring in a new baby, adopt another pet, or recently have some kind of big change to your schedule? Dogs often react to change with stress, and stress can sometimes cause vomiting. If this is the case, you may just need to spend some more time with your dog, reassuring them that everything will be okay and that you are still there. If they are being newly kennel trained, or are suddenly not seeing you as often, consider leaving them a shirt that smells like you to sleep with, for example.
Last update on 2018-09-22 at 10:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
There are certain conditions that I didn’t mention above that could cause vomiting. For example, puppies that have Parvo often vomit. It would take a much longer article to cover every type of illness that causes vomiting in dogs, so if you ever feel like you need to see the vet, don’t hesitate. It’s best to see the vet for no reason at all, than to avoid the vet when your dog really does need help.
Unfortunately for us dog owners, it’s hard to tell exactly what is going on every time a dog vomits. But these tips can help you determine if the situation needs medical attention right away, or if you just need to soothe your dog’s tummy a little.
As for Janice, I did spend the next day watching her carefully. She didn’t appear to be anything less than her happy self, but later I saw her trying to vomit again in the yard. I called Steve, my vet, and he suggested I bring her by for a quick check over. It was a good thing I did – Janice had a small blockage in her GI tract from eating something that didn’t quite get digested all the way. With a few bowel softeners, she was able to pass the problem, and all went back to normal. But if I had ignored it, it could have become infected or caused an ulcer.
This is why it’s important for you to trust your gut when it comes to your dog. While vomiting isn’t uncommon, it is still a sign that something (even a mild something) is wrong with your pup. Use this article to help you identify potential problems and find the best solution if your dog is vomiting – and never be afraid to call the vet!