Why Dogs Vomit and What You Can Do · The Wildest

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6 Reasons Your Dog Is Vomiting

And how to help them feel better fast.

by Daniela Lopez
Updated January 10, 2023
Red-haired woman holding sleeping dog in her lap on the bed
Hernandez & Sorokina / Stocksy

Dogs are notorious for their indiscriminate eating habits — from your turkey sandwich to a random wrapper on the sidewalk, it seems like everything is fair game. So it tracks that, at some point, most dogs experience an upset stomach or vomiting episode. (You’d be sick too if you ate your socks.)

If your dog throws up once or twice, it’s likely no cause for concern. But vomiting more than that can be a sign of a serious or potentially life-threatening illness that requires attention by a veterinarian. Keep reading to learn why your dog is throwing up — and whether you can treat them at home or need to take them to the vet.

6 Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Vomiting

1. They ate too fast or ate grass.

One of the reasons a dog throws up yellow bile is because they ate something that didn’t sit right in their stomach. The culprit may remain unknown, but common reasons include eating too fast and eating grass. If your dog just vomits once but otherwise seems happy and healthy, it’s likely they just had an upset stomach and there’s no need to take them to the vet.

2. They ate a foreign object.

Some dogs are known to eat inedible things, such as trash, plastic, chicken bones, and cat poop. It’s more common to see this behavior in young dogs and certain breeds. While some items may pass through the intestinal tract without a problem, others could get stuck, which would quickly lead to an emergency and expensive surgery. Prevention is best, so keep your home clear of potential hazards and consider training methods to prevent scavenging.

3. They ate something poisonous.

In addition to more obvious toxins, like rat poison or snail bait, you might be surprised to find that many common household items are actually poisonous to dogs. Dogs have been known to get into coffee, chocolate, pennies, and even common plants, which are highly toxic to dogs and cause vomiting. There are also some things that might seem toxic when, in fact, they are harmless, like birth control or some topical creams. When in doubt, it’s best to check with your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s pet poison control helpline.

4. They have pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas caused by many things, including eating fatty foods. One of the first signs of pancreatitis in dogs is vomiting and loss of appetite. The good news is that with veterinary treatment, most dogs make a full recovery from acute pancreatitis.

5. They have inflammatory bowel disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease is a term used to describe chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease exhibit symptoms of chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and poor appetite. While the cause isn’t typically known, it may be due to diet, parasites, or bacteria.

6. They have bloat.

If your dog is heaving without producing any vomit — especially if accompanied by abdominal distension and pain — get them to the vet ASAP. It may be a sign of gastric dilatation and volvulus, a.k.a. “bloat,” a diagnosis that requires emergency surgery. Bloat is an extremely serious condition in which a dog’s stomach fills with air, causing the stomach to expand and potentially twist. A clear symptom of bloat is vomiting — specifically, a dog who appears highly nauseated and vomits but little comes up. A dog with bloat can die within hours if they don’t receive veterinary treatment, so when in doubt, contact your vet right away.

These are just some of the conditions that may cause your dog to throw up. If you are concerned about your dog’s vomiting, reach out to your veterinarian, who will be able to determine the nature of the problem and provide you with the best advice on your dog’s health.

When to Call the Vet

How do you know when your dog’s vomiting is a true emergency? You should seek immediate veterinary attention if your dog shows any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Your dog is vomiting multiple times in one day or for several consecutive days.

  • The vomiting is accompanied by a loss of appetite, diarrhea, blood in vomit or stool, lethargy, change in urination, pain, pale gums, or increased thirst.

  • Your dog’s vomit indicates potential foreign objects or toxicity.

If your dog seems otherwise happy and alert, they may just have a mild upset stomach, which can be treated at home. Consider having your dog fast for six hours, then feeding them a bland food diet for 24 hours to rest their stomach. Start with rice water before slowly reintroducing their regular foods.

daniela lopez

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.

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