Great Dane Throwing up: Why And When To Worry

Your Great Dane will throw up at some point. One episode may not cause a reason for concern. 

However, if it happens frequently, for a prolonged period, throwing up of undigested food or having other changed behavior, this can be an indication something is wrong. 

Throwing up can be distressing to a Great Dane.

So in this article, I will explain more on the reasons why your Great Dane is throwing up, the causes, and when to see a veterinarian.

Why Is My Great Dane Throwing Up?

A Great Dane 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

Throwing up can improve on its own within 24 hours without medical attention or knowing the cause but if it is prolonged it can be a sign of an underlying health condition.

Dog vomiting starts with nausea, restlessness, repeated swallowing, salivating, and licking of lips followed by the forceful removal of food or liquid from the mouth. 

A Great Dane throwing up can occur due to either vomiting or regurgitation processes.

Great Dane lying down

How Do I Know If My Great Dane Is Vomiting or Regurgitating? Vomiting vs Regurgitation

Vomiting should not be confused with regurgitation. The difference between regurgitation and vomiting is:

  • Just before vomiting a Great Dane will experience symptoms including nausea and abdominal contractions which will be followed by the removal of partly digested food directly from the stomach. 
  • Vomiting happens actively with forceful expulsion of the stomach contents while regurgitation is passive, occurring without a Great Dane having control over it.
  • Regurgitation involves undigested food being forced out by the esophagus muscles and gravity while vomiting involves the expulsion of food from the stomach by abdominal muscles.

When a Great Dane vomits, the food that had been eaten is brought back from the stomach into the esophagus and mouth as either digested, partly digested or undigested food. 

On the other hand, regurgitation presents no symptoms of nausea and abdominal contractions. The swallowed food does not make it to the stomach and it comes back out from the esophagus in the throat and out through the mouth.

It comes about suddenly and either occurs immediately after eating or drinking water or hours after eating. 

It is a passive process compared to vomiting meaning it does not involve the stomach muscles and a Great Dane simply leans its head forward and the food comes out from its mouth. 

Regurgitation is a sign of a congenital esophageal disorder or acquired disorder. 

Congenital esophageal disorders causing regurgitation include Addison disease, cancer, gastric reflux, and an enlarged esophagus where the esophagus expands and does not move food down to the stomach properly.

Acquired disorders that can cause regurgitation include lodged foreign objects in the throat, poisoning, gastric reflux, cancer, ingestion of foreign objects, and rabies.

Because of its sudden onset, as a Great Dane owner, you need to watch your dog when they eat. 

It can be dangerous if it happens when your Great Dane eats too fast because it can lead to inhalation of food particles into the lungs which cause coughing or pneumonia. 

The signs of regurgitation include coughing, labored breathing, weakness, rise in body temperature, difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite, presence of lumps in the throat, and throwing up of undigested food water, or mucus.

Regurgitation is common in Great Danes and other dogs such as the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Newfoundland, Irish Setter, Fox terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, and the Chinese Shar-Pei.

Both vomiting and regurgitation can happen right after eating or hours later.

The importance of being aware of the difference between vomiting and regurgitation lies in the fact that they are caused by different factors and have different treatments. 

By knowing this, you can provide this detail to your veterinarian, which is helpful in the determination of the diagnosis.

Great Danes vomit different types of vomit which are differentiated by appearance. The appearance of vomit helps to determine the reasons behind it. 

This includes a Great Dane vomiting after drinking water because of drinking water too fast, a Great Dane throwing up white foam which in most cases is as a result of a stomach upset, or Great Dane vomiting and diarrhea.

Read more on these vomit types and the reasons behind them:

So, Do Great Danes Have Stomach Issues?

Great Danes have stomach issues just like other dog breeds which involves problems of the digestive system.

This includes diarrhea, vomiting, regurgitation, constipation, bleeding, a Great Dane not eating and lethargic, abnormal abdominal pain, bloating, or dehydration. 

Great Dane stomach issues can be caused by a variety of conditions that irritate and/or inflame their stomach.

As a large breed dog, however, the most significant stomach issue is that they are highly susceptible to bloat.

Bloat is a fatal condition where the stomach fills up with air and flips, which stops blood supply leading to shock and death of a Great Dane.

Read more here on bloat in Great Danes and stomach tacking in Great Danes to learn more on bloat and the preventive procedure.

Great Dane Throwing up Undigested Food

A Great Dane throwing up undigested food is a result of regurgitation or vomiting. Regurgitation is the removal of food, fluids, or mucus from their throat, exactly in the same form they ate the food. This comes about suddenly and without warning. 

Vomiting undigested food means that food in the stomach was not digested before being forced out from the stomach. 

Recommended reading: 

Why Is My Great Dane Throwing up Yellow Liquid?

A Great Dane throwing up yellow liquid is because of bilious vomiting syndrome which is the throwing up of stomach contents containing bile that appears yellow to green in color.

This happens when a Great Dane’s stomach is empty and bile abnormally enters the stomach which causes irritation of the stomach lining, causing vomiting. 

This occurs when a Great Dane has not eaten for a while, drank a lot of water, eaten a lot of fatty foods or a lot of grass.

Other common causes of throwing up of stomach contents containing bile includes the presence of gastrointestinal diseases that affect the digestive system such as ulcers, intestinal parasites, cancer, food allergies especially diet change, and pancreatitis as a result of eating a lot of fatty foods.

Intestinal blockage from ingestion of objects can also lead to a Great Dane vomiting bile because of having an empty stomach. Intestinal blockage is a serious medical situation that requires an emergency procedure to remove the object. 

Great Dane Puppy Throwing up At Night: Is This Normal?

A Great Dane puppy throwing up at night is a result of bilious vomiting syndrome which occurs when bile from the gallbladder abnormally enters the stomach from the intestine which causes irritation and resultant throwing up. 

This throwing up is usually observed late at night or in the morning just before eating.

Although veterinary medicine has not pinpointed the reason behind the abnormal bile entry into the stomach, bilious vomiting is believed to be caused by intestinal and stomach reflux.

These occur when a Great Dane’s stomach has been empty for a long time. 

Diseases that cause intestinal inflammation from the change of the gastrointestinal movement have also been attributed to contributing to this.

Both male and female Great Danes experience this and it is also common in older dogs but can also occur at any age.

Bile in a dog’s digestive system helps in the digestion of food and the elimination of waste from the dog’s body.

It is normally produced in the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and emptied into the small intestine when food has been digested.

When the bile abnormally enters the stomach it causes bilious vomiting where a puppy vomits with bile in the ingested food which appears green to yellow and watery.

Sometimes vomiting will not occur and the bile will remain in the stomach which causes gastric reflux. 

A Great Dane puppy will normally have symptoms including nausea, abdominal discomfort, and loss of appetite.

Diagnosis is done by a veterinarian through various tests and treatment is provided.

Treatment involves medication that promotes gastric motility to encourage emptying of the stomach contents into the intestine where digestion with bile normally happens. This prevents reflux.

The medication also helps to prevent damage of the stomach wall in case there is increased production of bile which is acidic.

Low fat and high-fiber diets are also encouraged. This diet helps the stomach to empty which reduces retention of food. 

Liquid diets or canned food are recommended because they do not stay long in the stomach for prolonged periods compared to solid food.

To prevent throwing up at night, feeding of frequent small meals especially at night is recommended for a Great Dane puppy.

This prevents the stomach from remaining empty for a long time which also increases gastric motility.


Vomiting leads to dehydration and loss of electrolytes from a Great Dane’s body. This is life-threatening if treatment is not provided in time. 

Throwing up can also be a symptom of a serious health condition such as infection, poisoning, or disease and if not treated early the outcome can be fatal.

What To Do

Occasional Great Dane throwing up is not a cause for concern because it is normal and especially if they continue to be active and do not have other symptoms that indicate a Great Dane is sick such as fever, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain.

If your Great Dane vomits once and appears normal, keep an eye on them to assess whether vomiting continues and if other symptoms appear.

Withdraw food for 6 – 12 hours but provide them drinking water. This allows their stomach to settle down and repair itself. 

If vomiting does not continue, feed them their normal diet at their next mealtime. 

When To Seek Help

Throwing up can be a common occurrence for a Great Dane, however, some signs and symptoms can inform you that something else could be going on which requires you to contact the vet immediately. 

Signs of Great Dane sickness in addition to vomiting are also indications to seek medical care.

Seek medical care when your Great Dane:

  • Vomits blood
  • Continues to vomit 
  • There is the presence of a fever
  • Lethargic or weak
  • Has abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration (panting, thick saliva, dry nose, dry sticky gums, and lethargy)
  • Seizures 
  • Ingested a foreign object
  • Attempts to vomit without anything coming out (dry heaving)
  • Vomits large amounts of food
  • A Great Dane vomiting and not eating

Contact your veterinarian within 8-12 hours when the throwing up is frequent, that is, over 2 times because this can quickly lead to dehydration.

Take a sample of your Great Dane’s vomit for your veterinarian to determine whether the expulsion of food is due to vomiting or regurgitation.

The veterinarian can also use the sample to test for toxins. Also, note the symptoms your dog had and inform your vet.


Various tests will be carried out to determine the cause of Great Dane’s vomiting. Treatment and recommendations will depend on the cause.

Treatment consists of:

  • A bland diet consisting of boiled rice and boiled chicken with plenty of drinking water
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Anti-inflammatory medication to soothe the stomach and intestines
  • Treatment for disease
  • Probiotics
  • Fluid therapy to correct dehydration and loss of electrolytes

Great Danes experiencing vomiting will be required to stay off their regular food for 24 hours and be fed a bland diet thereafter. This allows the digestive system to rest and repair itself. 

Some Great Danes are sensitive to certain food ingredients and your veterinarian may eliminate their current diet and recommend a diet for their sensitive stomach. 

A Great Dane’s upset stomach may be caused by ingredients in their food such as certain protein, grains, lack of sufficient vitamins and minerals, fiber source, fat content, food containing too much of a certain ingredient, and quality ingredients. 

A Great Dane’s sensitive stomach can cause vomiting, loose stools, and flatulence. The symptoms can be mild or severe.

The veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet, change the diet to a limited ingredients diet, a moderate-fat or protein diet, or a high-quality food source for your Great Dane. 

If your Great Dane does not improve within 48 hours while at home, return them to the veterinarian for further tests and treatment.

How To Prevent Your Great Dane From Throwing Up

Although occasional throwing up by a Great Dane is normal, you can prevent your Great Dane from throwing up. Preventive methods include:

Regular health check-ups help to determine the health of a Great Dane and detect any signs of illness. Early detection of disease helps in early treatment and management which prevents severe disease outcomes including throwing up.

Keep potential household toxins such as pesticides or cleaning products away from your Great Dane to prevent accidental ingestion.

Motion sickness prevention and management by using strategies to help your Great Dane and prevent throwing up. 

This includes withholding food before traveling, keeping the car quiet and cool, taking short trips to gradually build your dog’s tolerance to trips, and anti-nausea medication.

Prevent esophageal obstruction by removing items that your Great Dane may accidentally swallow and cause esophageal obstruction. This includes broken bones or toys.

Prevention of dietary indiscretion. A Great Dane’s upset stomach and throwing up can also be due to dietary indiscretion, that is eating of things that they should not such as some human foods, or garbage.

Prevention includes limiting access to things they shouldn’t eat and not feeding them human food that can cause


A Great Dane throwing up white foam , bile, blood, after eating, mucus, clear liquid,  or yellow form can be an alarming sight especially if it does not stop and if it is frequent. The cause of it might be due to illness that requires immediate medical attention.

Immediately seek medical attention when there is the presence of additional symptoms involving a change in behavior such as loss of appetite, sensitivity to touch especially the stomach area, weakness, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and dehydration.

It is important to take note of when your Great Dane vomits and whether there are additional symptoms to relay this information to your veterinarian. 

The veterinarian will pinpoint the cause and offer the appropriate medication or approach to help your Great Dane.

Related Posts