Dogs can throw up different types of vomit from clear liquid, yellow foam, white foam, blood, or mucus, all caused by different factors.
But what causes a dog to vomit undigested food right after eating? What does it mean and should you worry about it?
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind a dog throwing up undigested food right after eating happens and whether you should be worried about it.
Here's Why a Dog Throwing up Undigested Food Right After Eating Happens
A dog throwing up undigested food right after eating is due to vomiting or regurgitation processes which both can occur right after eating or hours after eating. This can be due to fast eating or drinking, overeating, eating spoiled food, grass, sudden change of diet, stress, reduced gastric motility, and disease.
How Can You Tell Whether It's Vomiting or Regurgitation?
Vomiting is an active process where the stomach muscles contract and force food from the stomach to the outside through the mouth of a dog.
The food comes out as either digested, partly digested, or undigested food. It can happen right after eating or several hours after eating.
A dog will have symptoms before vomiting which include nausea, licking of lips, and drooling.
Regurgitation happens when a dog brings up swallowed food from the esophagus, which did not make it to the stomach.
The food rolls out from the esophagus to the mouth in the exact form it was swallowed and because it did not reach the stomach, the food comes out as undigested food.
In contrast to vomiting, regurgitation is a passive process meaning it does not involve contractions of the stomach muscles to push food out to the outside as observed in vomiting.
It happens suddenly and a dog will usually lean forward and undigested food comes out from the mouth.
Read more here on what leads to a Great Dane throwing up.
Common Causes of A Dog Throwing up Undigested Food Right After Eating
Eating or drinking too fast
Eating or drinking too fast can cause a dog to throw up undigested food right after eating. Dogs are naturally excited at mealtime which can lead to fast eating or drinking.
This results in either regurgitation immediately. They may also have indigestion because of this and throw up after a few hours.
Overeating can also cause a dog to vomit undigested food right after eating. Overeating occurs when a dog eats a lot of food or is fed only one large meal in a day.
This causes stomach discomfort leading to vomiting of undigested food.
Sudden diet change
When you change your dog’s diet suddenly it might result in food intolerance which means that they cannot digest the food.
Their body will react by eliminating the food from their digestive tract by vomiting, which comes back out as undigested food.
Consumption of spoiled food
Eating spoiled food which is past the expiration date leads to an upset stomach and a dog may throw up the undigested food after eating due to their body’s reaction to the food.
Spoiled food can also be from the garbage when a dog has access to it and eats from it.
Eating of grass
Dogs eat grass for various reasons which include calming down an upset stomach, or for the simple reason of enjoying the taste of it.
They might eat too much grass which results in throwing up undigested food immediately after they eat a meal. The vomited food can also come out as green-colored food because of the ingested grass.
A dog may throw up due to stress. They might vomit right after eating or a few hours later. Stress triggers in a dog can be from a change of their environment for example being in a new home, meeting new people or pets, separation from their owner or family, boredom, or fear.
Reduced gastric motility (gastroparesis)
A dog might have gastroparesis which is the reduced mobility of the stomach or delayed gastric emptying.
This means that the stomach muscles are incapable of contracting and pushing food to the small intestine and movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract is slowed down. Digestion of food does not occur within the time that it should.
Symptoms of gastroparesis in dogs include vomiting right after eating, nausea, gas, pain in the upper abdomen, swelling of the abdomen, stomach spasms, loss of appetite, belching, pica, and weight loss.
Underlying diseases that a dog might have may also cause them to throw up undigested food right after eating.
Diseases that can cause vomiting include gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, liver or kidney failure.
Other causes of regurgitation include a dilated esophagus, esophageal obstruction, rabies, and gastric reflux which leads to inflammation of the esophagus.
When Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog Throwing Up?
A dog throwing up undigested food is not a medical concern if they throw up one time and they are healthy, continue to carry out their daily activities, and do not show other symptoms of illness.
The seriousness of throwing up undigested food right after eating depends on the cause and a dog’s change of behavior and presentation of other symptoms.
Throwing up can be due to an underlying disease or condition which causes vomiting or regurgitation.
Be concerned when:
- The vomit has blood
- They vomit more than once
- Throw up and have diarrhea
- Unproductive vomiting (dry heaving)
- Throwing up due to esophageal obstruction
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in breathing
What to Do if Your Dog Throws up Right After Eating
When your dog throws up right after eating and they do not show any other signs of illness such as weakness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or loss of appetite, keep an eye on them. Observe whether vomiting continues or not.
If vomiting continues and/or other symptoms are present, contact your veterinarian immediately. Seek medical attention within 8-12 hours. This is because vomiting can lead to severe, life-threatening dehydration.
Regurgitation should only last for a few minutes, which is normal. But if your dog continuously regurgitates for more than 3 – 5 minutes, seek medical attention immediately. This means the regurgitation could be due to a serious underlying health condition.
The veterinarian will examine your dog to provide a diagnosis and also advise on the treatment depending on the underlying cause.
Recommended reading: Puppy throwing up undigested food: should you panic?
Regular vet examinations
Regular visits to the veterinarian are important for early detection of any health condition, which when discovered can be treated before adversely affecting your dog including vomiting undigested food.
Routine health checkups allow the veterinarian to assess your dog’s overall health and also advise preventive measures against disease to enable your dog to be healthy.
Slow down eating and drinking
Slowing down eating and drinking can also prevent your dog from throwing up undigested food right after eating.
This can be done by the use of a slow feeding bowl which will prevent over-excited dogs from gulping down their food or water during mealtime.
To prevent your dog from throwing up undigested food right after eating because of feeding your dog one large meal per day, schedule their meals by spreading the feeding time throughout the day.
Each dog breed has a feeding schedule based on their age. Follow a meal schedule so that they also obtain the right nutrient requirements at each stage of development.
Generally, adult dogs should eat at least 2 times a day while puppies eat 2 to 3 times a day.
Also, avoid overfeeding your dog by providing them with the right quantity of food appropriate for their breed and age.
Gradually introduce a new diet
Gradually introduce a new diet to your dog by slowly mixing the new food with their current diet for 7 to 10 days before fully changing over to the new diet.
This allows your dog’s stomach to adjust to the new food and also if they experience food intolerance, you will be able to stop feeding them the new food type which will prevent throwing up.
To manage stress in your dog and to prevent throwing up undigested food, first, start by identifying the cause of the stress. Observe when they have anxiety and also your veterinarian can help you identify the stress trigger.
If stress is because of a change of their routine or environment, try to make your dog comfortable and be more relaxed.
Training by a dog behaviorist can also help them to minimize and manage stress.
Prevent dietary indiscretion
Dogs inspect and explore their environment by using their mouth and may eat anything that seems interesting such as garbage.
Therefore, to prevent vomiting due to eating items that may cause gastrointestinal upset to prevent access to items such as the trash can, or table scraps.
A dog throwing up undigested food right after eating can be very concerning. Although it is common for dogs to throw up occasionally, being able to identify whether the throwing up is due to regurgitation or vomiting and the possible cause, can help you know what to do to help your dog.
Always reach out to your veterinarian when the vomiting or regurgitation does not stop and also other symptoms of illness that may appear. This means there might be an underlying condition that needs to be checked.