Dog Vomiting: Causes and Care for a Dog Throwing Up: Expert Tips

When it comes to your dog, there’s nothing quite as distressing as seeing them unwell. Dogs are known for their boundless energy and playful nature, so when they start throwing up, it’s natural to become concerned. 

In order to effectively manage and care for a dog experiencing this unpleasant symptom, it’s important to first understand the reasons behind it.

In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of dog vomiting, explaining in depth:

  • Dog vomiting causes and symptoms
  • Dog throwing up undigested food
  • Dog vomiting but acting normal 
  • Dog vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dog vomiting when to worry
  • Dog vomiting treatment at home 
  • Dog vomiting prevention

You will learn steps you can take to alleviate your dog’s discomfort and know what to do from dog throwing up blood, dog throwing up yellow foam, dog vomiting white foam, clear liquid, brown liquid, dog diarrhea and vomiting, selecting the best dog food for dog vomiting, puppy vomiting and more.

Whether you’re a new dog owner or a seasoned pro, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to navigate this all-too-common challenge. 

From the common causes of dog vomiting, immediate steps to take when your dog starts throwing up to long-term prevention strategies.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and embark on this journey to understand dog vomiting and discover effective ways to tackle it head-on.

Vomiting in Dogs

dog throwing up

Vomiting is an active process and involves the forceful expulsion of contents from the stomach and the upper intestines through the mouth. 

Vomiting lasts for several minutes and comes with symptoms including nausea, restlessness, repeated swallowing, licking of lips, and salivation.

This is followed by abdominal contractions and forceful expulsion of liquid or food from the mouth. 

Vomiting can occur right after eating or hours later.

The vomited contents can come out as digested, partly digested, or undigested. 

Vomiting Vs Regurgitation

There is a difference between regurgitation and vomiting. It is important to know the difference because they are caused by different factors and also have different treatment options. 

By recognizing the difference, you can be able to provide details of your dog’s vomiting to your veterinarian, which will be helpful in the diagnosis.

Vomiting is an active process and involves the forceful expulsion of contents from the stomach and the upper intestines through the mouth while regurgitation is the expulsion of contents from the esophagus, throat, and mouth. 

Vomiting lasts for several minutes and comes with symptoms including nausea, restlessness, repeated swallowing, licking of lips, and salivation.

This is followed by abdominal contractions and forceful expulsion of liquid or food from the mouth. 

Vomiting can occur right after eating or hours later.

The vomited contents can come out as digested, partly digested, or undigested. 

Regurgitation is a passive process that occurs quickly and often without warning. Compared to vomiting, there are no symptoms before regurgitation.

Your dog is usually fine then in one moment they suddenly spit out contents from their mouth. 

This means there is no contraction of the stomach muscles and a dog simply leans its head forward and the swallowed contents roll out from its mouth. 

Your dog does not have control over it. The swallowed food does not make it to the stomach and comes back out with the help of the esophagus muscles and gravity.

Regurgitation can occur immediately after eating, drinking, or hours after having a meal. 

Regurgitation is caused by a congenital esophageal disorder or by an acquired disorder. 

Congenital esophageal disorders are esophageal birth defects that cause a dog to be more susceptible to regurgitation. 

On the other hand, acquired disorders that lead to regurgitation are due to esophageal, throat, or systemic diseases.

If your dog is regurgitating, the common symptoms to look out for:

  • Coughing 
  • Increased breathing noises 
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Swelling in the throat 
  • Increased appetite 
  • Runny nose 
  • Bad breath
  • Throwing up of undigested food, water, or mucus.

Common causes of dog vomiting

Understanding the common causes of dog vomiting can help you identify the underlying issue and provide appropriate care. 

A dog throwing up is as a result of:

  • A gastrointestinal infection (bacterial or viral)
  • Presence of Intestinal parasites
  • Food intolerance
  • Diet change
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as rocks, dirt, small balls
  • Ingestion of toxins such as antifreeze, household products (pesticides, cleaning products)
  • Ingestion of garbage 
  • Diseases (pancreatitis, cancer, liver or kidney failure)
  • Certain medications
  • Heatstroke
  • Motion sickness during car drives

Types of dog vomit

A dog can vomit different vomit types depending on the color. This can give an insight into what could be the cause of the vomiting however this does not give a complete diagnosis.

Consultation with your veterinarian and diagnostic tests that they conduct helps in reaching a more accurate diagnosis of the problem.

The chart below is a dog vomit color guide with the possible causes:

Dog vomit type 

Possible Cause

Dog vomiting clear liquid

Occurs due to the expulsion of saliva or water when your dog vomits on an empty stomach. 

Dog vomiting white foam

Can be caused by a buildup of stomach acid in the stomach which becomes foamy when exposed to the air when vomited.

Dog vomiting blood

Occurs due to diseases or conditions that corrode a dog’s stomach lining exposing the blood vessels.

Dog vomiting yellow foam

Occurs due to vomiting of partly digested food with bile which is yellow or green. Happens when a dog has not eaten for a while, eaten a lot of fatty foods, or grass, or drank a lot of water.

Dog vomiting mucus

Happens when a dog drools excessively and swallows the drool which pools in the stomach. This is then vomited out as mucus due to nausea.

Dog throwing up undigested food

A dog throwing up undigested food is a result of regurgitation or vomiting. Vomiting undigested food means that food in the stomach was not digested before being forced out  from the stomach.  

Common reasons why dogs might throw up undigested food include gastrointestinal upset, eating too quickly, food allergies or intolerances, overeating, gastrointestinal disorders, blockages and underlying health problems.

If your dog is vomiting undigested food frequently, or if the vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea, blood in vomit, or changes in behavior, it is important to consult your veterinarian.

Related: Dog throwing up and not eating: Here’s why

Why is my dog throwing up undigested food hours after eating?

A dog throwing up undigested food hours after eating is due to several reasons including gastrointestinal upset, eating too quickly, food allergies or intolerances, overeating, motion sickness, blockages and underlying health problems.

Dog throwing up yellow in the middle of the night

A dog vomiting yellow or yellowish fluid in the middle of the night, often referred to as “yellow bile,” is often observed when a dog vomits on an empty stomach, and the material that comes up is bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. 

Common causes of a dog vomiting bile in the middle of the night include irregular feeding schedule with long periods between meals, gastric irritation, and gastrointestinal disorders.

If your dog is vomiting yellow bile in the middle of the night, it is a good idea to monitor their behavior and overall health. 

If the vomiting is infrequent and your dog appears otherwise healthy, you might consider adjusting their feeding schedule, providing smaller and more frequent meals, and ensuring they have access to water throughout the day.

However, if the vomiting is persistent, is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or changes in behavior, or if you are unsure about the cause, it’s important to consult your veterinarian.

Dog vomiting but acting normal, should I worry?

If your dog is vomiting but otherwise behaving normally, the vomiting is not a cause for immediate concern. Occasional throwing up is common in dogs.

The reasons why a dog might be vomiting while still acting normal include the occasional upset stomach, mild gastrointestinal irritation from dietary changes or consuming a small amount of something unusual, regurgitation of undigested food, motion sickness during car rides but once they are out of the car and back to their normal routine, they might act normally and due to anxiety or stress.

However, it is still important to closely monitor your dog’s condition including vomiting frequency, duration, signs of dehydration, appearance of other concerning symptoms, change of behavior, and if you suspect your dog ingested something they shouldn’t have. If their condition worsens, consult your  veterinarian

Dog vomiting treatment at home

Occasional throwing up is not a cause for concern when your dog experiences it because it is common. A dog will usually vomit and continue to be active as usual.

If your dog does not present other signs of illness that indicate they might be sick, there is no cause for concern.

If this is the case with your dog where they vomit once and act normal, keep an eye on them to investigate whether the vomiting continues or if other symptoms will appear.

There are steps you can take at home to provide care and support for your dog during this time:

Withhold food

One of the first steps in home care for a dog throwing up is to temporarily withhold food. This allows your dog’s stomach to rest and recover from the digestive upset. 

Withdraw their food for 6 – 12 hours but provide a lot of drinking water. This helps alleviate symptoms and give the gastrointestinal system a chance to settle.

Provide plenty of water

Hydration is important when a dog is throwing up. Ensure that your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. 

While your dog may not be interested in drinking during episodes of vomiting, it is essential to encourage them to take small sips frequently. This helps prevent dehydration, which can occur when a dog is experiencing gastrointestinal distress.

Feed them a bland diet

After the period of food withholding, you can slowly introduce a bland diet to your dog. A bland diet consists of easily digestible foods that are gentle on the stomach.

This can include boiled chicken, rice, or a combination of the two. A bland diet helps to soothe the digestive system and provide essential nutrients without further upsetting the stomach.

Monitoring for improvement or worsening condition

As you care for your dog at home, it is important to closely monitor their condition. Keep an eye on their behavior and look for signs of improvement or worsening. 

Are they able to keep water down? Is the frequency of vomiting decreasing? Are they showing other concerning symptoms? 

Monitoring your dog’s progress will help you determine if additional veterinary care is necessary.

Remember, while home care can provide temporary relief, it is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog’s condition worsens, or if they are not showing signs of improvement within 24 hours, it is important to seek veterinary care. 

When is it time to panic? Dog vomiting when to worry

Throwing up is a common occurrence for any dog as well as a dog, however, if it is frequent and with additional symptoms, this can indicate that something else is wrong with your dog.

In this case, medical care is needed. The appearance of other signs of illness should not be ignored because of the complications they might bring if left untreated.

Seek immediate medical care when your dog:

  • Continues to vomit 
  • Vomits blood
  • Has a fever
  • Lethargic 
  • Dog vomiting and diarrhea
  • Has abdominal pain
  • Dehydrated (Signs include lethargy, thick saliva, panting, dry nose, and dry sticky gums)
  • Seizures 
  • Ingested a foreign object
  • Tries to vomit but nothing comes out (dry heaving)
  • Vomits a large quantity of food
  • Refuses to eat

Contact the veterinarian within 8 -12 hours when the throwing up is frequent, that is, when your dog vomits over 2 times in this period. This is because this constant vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration.

Also, collect and take a sample of your dog’s vomit to your veterinarian. This will help in the determination of whether your dog threw up or regurgitated the contents.

Treatment is different for regurgitation and vomiting therefore this helps in the diagnostic process.

The vomit sample is also used to test for toxins. Share more information with the veterinarian if you notice other signs of illness from your dog.

See Also: Dog throwing up and lethargic (Explained)

Dog vomiting treatment

The diagnosis is reached depending on the diagnostic test results that are conducted to determine the underlying cause of the vomiting.

Treatment varies depending on the diagnosis. The treatment options include:

  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Anti-inflammatory medication 
  • Treatment for disease 
  • Fluid therapy to treat dehydration and loss of electrolytes
  • Probiotics to treat bowel and intestinal inflammation
  • A bland diet consisting of boiled rice and boiled chicken 

In most cases, you will provide home care to your dog after the veterinarian’s guidance and the treatment provided. In severe cases of dehydration, your dog may be hospitalized to be treated for dehydration.

During the treatment period, your dog is required to be on a bland diet for 24 hours to allow its digestive system to gradually repair itself. 

Dogs that have sensitive stomachs that cause them to throw up due to some ingredients in their food require a change in diet. The veterinarian will recommend a suitable diet if this is the case for your dog.

The veterinarian may recommend a limited ingredients diet, a prescription diet, a moderate-fat or protein diet, or high-quality dog food. 

How to prevent your dog from throwing up

Although occasional throwing up for a dog is normal, you can put in place preventive measures to prevent it from occurring frequently. This includes:

Lock up potential toxins

Vomiting due to ingestion of toxins occurs if your dog has access to potential toxins around the home. This includes gardening chemicals such as pesticides or household cleaning products. 

Prevent this from occurring by locking these products to prevent accidental ingestion and poisoning.

Visit the veterinarian for medical checks

Medical checkups help in the assessment of your dog’s health status and early detection of disease. 

Early detection of disease allows early treatment and management of conditions. This prevents throwing up which is a symptom of some diseases. 

Motion sickness management

Some dogs experience motion sickness when in a moving car or train, leading them to vomit in addition to other symptoms.

There are methods to prevent your dog from having motion sickness and its adverse effects.

Prevention and management of motion sickness in your dog include withholding mealtime before traveling, administration of anti-nausea medication, keeping a calm and quiet car environment while on a car trip, and taking short trips to allow your dog to get used to car trips.

Prevention of dietary indiscretion 

Dietary indiscretion is the consumption of items that are not meant to be eaten including non-foodstuffs or unusual items.

Dogs will eat just about anything they find interesting from smell and taste. This includes garbage, frogs, or harmful plants.

Therefore limit access to potential items that they should not eat. Vomiting usually occurs because of a stomach upset caused by eating either non-food items, spoiled or items they should not eat. 

Keep your dog from chewing on foreign objects 

Foreign items such as broken toys, sticks, or pieces of bone are potential hazards for your dog when they chew on them and swallow them. This can lead to esophageal obstruction. 

Therefore when you spot your dog eyeing these items or chewing on them, stop them from the action. 

Also, keep these potentially harmful objects away from your dog.

Key Takeaway: Dog throwing up

Managing and caring for a dog throwing up can be a challenging experience for any dog owner. It is important to understand the common causes of dog vomiting in order to provide the appropriate care and take necessary precautions.

A dog throwing up is a very distressing situation and it can be because of an illness that requires medical attention.

Occasional vomiting is not a cause for concern however when vomiting is very frequent or when a dog vomits several times within an 8 -12 hour period, this is a sign that something may be wrong with your dog.

Home care involves withholding food, feeding a bland diet, providing plenty of water, and closely monitoring for improvement or worsening of symptoms. These steps can help alleviate gastrointestinal distress and aid in the recovery process.

However, it is important to recognize when to seek veterinary care. Observe your dog and take note of how frequent they vomit, and if they also show other symptoms of illness. 

Seek medical care if your dog continuously vomits and has additional symptoms. The underlying cause of the throwing up will be determined and treated, bringing back your dog to health.

In summary, understanding the causes, immediate steps, home care, and when to seek veterinary care for a dog throwing up is important for the well-being of your dog. 

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