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Vomiting in Dogs: Causes & When to Worry

As a dog owner, it can be quite distressing to see your furry friend vomiting. Vomiting in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which may require immediate attention. Understanding when to be concerned, why your dog might suddenly start vomiting, and how to settle an upset stomach can help you take better care of your pet.

When should You be concerned about your dog throwing up?

Vomiting is a common sign of an irritated stomach and inflamed intestines or gastrointestinal upset in dogs.

Almost every dog owner understands that while vomiting in dogs is unpleasant to witness and can be distressing, it is your pet’s way of emptying their stomach of indigestible material to prevent it from remaining in their system or reaching other areas of their body.

However, certain signs indicate a more serious issue requiring veterinary attention:

  • Persistent vomiting: If your dog vomits more than once or twice in a short period, it could indicate a serious problem.
  • Blood in vomit: The presence of blood, whether bright red or resembling coffee grounds, is a red flag.
  • Vomiting & Diarrhea: If your dog is experiencing both vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration can quickly become a concern.
  • Lethargy & Weakness: If your dog appears unusually tired or weak in addition to vomiting, this could be a sign of a serious underlying condition.
  • Abdominal pain: Noticeable discomfort or pain in the abdominal area, such as whining or reluctance to be touched, should prompt a visit to the vet.
  • Unproductive vomiting: If your dog is retching but not producing any vomit, this could indicate a life-threatening condition called bloat.

Causes of Vomiting in Dogs

Several factors can lead to vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Even a healthy dog can fall ill for no clear reason and then recover quickly. It's possible that your dog might have eaten too quickly, consumed too much grass, or ingested something that doesn't agree with their stomach. In some cases, vomiting may occur only once and not be accompanied by any other symptoms, so it may not always be a cause for concern.

However, acute vomiting (sudden or severe) can be a sign of diseases, disorders, or health complications such as:

  • Heatstroke
  • Ingestion of poisons, toxins, or food
  • Parasites
  • Reaction to medication
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Change in diet

Chronic Vomiting

If your dog has been vomiting frequently or it has become a long-term or chronic issue, this is cause for concern, especially if you’ve noticed symptoms including abdominal pain, depression, dehydration, blood, poor appetite, fever, weakness, weight loss, or other unusual behaviors.

Long-term, recurrent vomiting can be caused by:

  • Cancer
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Uterine infection
  • Constipation
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Colitis

As a cautious pet owner, it is always best to prioritize safety and caution when it comes to your pup's health. The best way to determine whether your dog's vomiting is normal is to contact your vet.

How to Induce Vomiting in Dogs

In some cases, inducing vomiting in dogs may be necessary, especially if they have ingested a toxic substance. However, this should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian or a poison control center. Inducing vomiting improperly can cause more harm than good.

Never induce vomiting if your dog has ingested a caustic substance or sharp objects or if they are showing signs of distress, such as difficulty breathing or seizures. Always seek professional advice before attempting to induce vomiting.

Deciding whether your dog should be induced at home depends on what and how much it has consumed and how much time has passed. There's a chance that the substance or amount consumed wasn't toxic, so inducing vomiting wouldn't be necessary.

Though vomiting can safely bring most toxins up, a few will cause more damage by passing through the esophagus a second time by moving through the GI tract. These include bleach, cleaning products, other caustic chemicals, and petroleum-based products.

Also, if 3% hydrogen peroxide (the only safe home substance that can be used to induce vomiting in dogs) is incorrectly administered, it can enter the lungs and cause significant problems such as pneumonia.

If your dog has a pre-existing health condition or other symptoms, inducing vomiting may result in other health risks. If induced vomiting is necessary, having a qualified veterinarian induce vomiting in the clinic is preferable.

How do you settle a dog's upset stomach?

If your dog has a mild case of an upset stomach, there are several steps you can take to help settle it:

  • Withhold food: Temporarily withholding food for 12-24 hours can allow your dog's stomach to settle. Make sure your dog has access to water to prevent dehydration.
  • Bland diet: After fasting, introduce a bland diet consisting of boiled chicken and rice or plain boiled hamburger and rice. Gradually reintroduce their regular food over a few days.
  • Hydration: Ensure your dog stays hydrated. Offer small amounts of water frequently or ice cubes if it is reluctant to drink.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics can help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your dog's gut and aid digestion.
  • Consult your vet: If vomiting persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, consult your veterinarian for further guidance.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is vomiting a concerning amount, contact our Milledgeville vets or seek emergency care immediately.

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