When Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog Throwing Up? (Vet’s Answer!)


When Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog Throwing Up? (Vet's Answer!)

Is your dog vomiting? This may be a common sign that your dog is not feeling well.  Many times, this vomiting is short-lived, and your dog will quickly recover. There may be many reasons that they are vomiting. Some dogs may be okay, and you just need to monitor your dog, but some can be life-threatening, and you will need to see your vet right away. 

It is best to figure out why your dog is vomiting so that you know if this is something serious that needs to see your vet.

Why is my dog vomiting?

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Sudden Change in Diet
  • Foreign body obstruction
  • Parasites
  • Organ Failure
  • Bloat
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heat Stroke

Most of these issues may need to see your vet for prescription medication to stop your dog from vomiting. If your dog is every vomiting for more than 24 hours or more than 4 times in one day they should see a vet as there is something more serious going on than just ate something that disagreed with their stomach.

8 Common Reasons that a dog may be vomiting

These are some of the most common reasons that your dog may be vomiting and what you can do to help.

Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is an infection of your dog’s GI system.  Many times, this happens when your dog eats something that they should not have ate.  When your dog vomits, the lining of its intestines becomes inflamed.  This leads to an overgrowth of bacteria in you

Sudden Change in Diet

If you suddenly change your dog’s dietDo Goldendoodles Need Grain-Free Food?, they can vomit or have diarrhea.  If you want to change your dog’s diet, it is best to do so gradually.  This is a great way to transition your dog to its new diet. 

  • 75% of the old food and 25% of the new food for 3 to 5 days
  • 50% of the old food and 50% of the new food for 3 to 5 days
  • 25% of the old food and 75% of the new food for 3 to 5 days
  • 100% new food.

Foreign Body

If your dog ate something that they should not have, this could easily get stuck in their intestines.  Dogs will eat socks, toys, underwear, and other indigestible objects.  If you have a large dog, these may pass.  If your dog is smaller, these will not pass through their intestines and can easily get stuck along the way. 

Dogs with a foreign body will vomit no matter what you try at home to prevent them from vomiting.  If you think that your dog may have an obstruction, it would be best for your dog to see your vet. They will take x-rays to look for any obstruction.

If there is an obstruction, most of the time, your dog will need to have surgery to remove the blockage.

Parasites

Some internal parasites can cause your dog to vomit.  You may also see worms in their vomit.  If you are noticing worms in your dog stool or vomit, it is best for your dog to see your vet.  They will check a fecal sample and get your dog the appropriate de-wormer to get rid of these parasites.

Organ Failure

If your dog has kidney or liver failure, they may vomit.  Many of these dogs will also have other signs showing that they are sick such as not eating, diarrhea, and lethargy.  If you notice that something is wrong with your dog, it is best for your vet to see them.  Bloodwork can quickly show if they are having any issues with their internal organs.  Your vet can develop a plan to help your dog start to feel much better.

Bloat

The medical term for bloat is Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV).  Dogs who have bloat will vomit.  You will also notice a large, bloated abdomen.  If you think that your dog has bloat, it would be best for your dog to see your vet right away.  Many times, this is a life-threatening medical condition that needs surgery right away.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is commonly seen in dogs after eating a high fatty meal.  If you gave your dog table food, they could develop pancreatitis.  One of the main signs that you will see in dogs with pancreatitis is vomiting. 

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas.  This will cause your dog to have abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Small dogs with pancreatitis can quickly become dehydrated.

If you think that your dog may have pancreatitis, it is best for them to see your vet.  They will run bloodwork to check for dehydration and pancreatitis.  If they do have pancreatitis, depending on the severity, your dog may need to stay in the hospital on IV fluids for them to get better

Heat Stroke

If your dog gets overheated, they can develop heatstroke.  Usually, these dogs will be panting a lot, vomiting, having diarrhea, and maybe unresponsive.  If it is a hot summer day and your dog is vomiting, you may want to check their body temperature to see if they are suffering from a heat stroke. 

If your dog is overheated, it is best to cool them off with cool water and a fan.  If it is severe, they will need to see your vet for IV fluids.  This will help them quickly cool off.  Heatstroke can be life-threatening if not treated right away.  Make sure your dog has plenty of shade on a warm summer day and plenty of water. 

What to do if my dog is vomiting?

If they just vomit once, this may be just a one-time occurrence, and they will recover just fine.  Other times your dog may continue to vomit. These are some things that you can do

Offer a bland diet

If they continue vomiting, offering a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice to help calm their stomach will help. 

Give over the counter nausea medication

You can try to give your dog some nausea medication to help calm their stomach. Pepto-Bismol is commonly used. The dosage of this medication is 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds every 6 to 8 hours. If your dog still vomits while having this medication they should see your vet for prescription medication.

See your vet

If they are still vomiting for more than 24 hours or having other signs of illness, it would be best to see your vet.

They may need bloodwork, x rays, or an ultrasound to see what is causing them to vomit.  Your dog may be able to be treated at home with just oral medication, but in severe cases, your dog will benefit from staying in the hospital on IV fluids

When is vomiting an emergency?

The main thing people want to know is when is vomiting an emergency and when can I wait. If you notice any of these signs you should take your dog to the vet or the emergency vet clinic right away.

Vomiting blood

If your dog is vomiting blood this is an extreme emergency. There may be a mass inside them that has ruptured, heartworm disease or GI ulcer causing them to vomit blood. It is best that you rush your dog into the vet right away.

Vomiting black coffee ground material

Black coffee ground material in the vomit is also a very bad sign. This could be a sign that your dog has a GI ulcer that has ruptured. This could also be old, dried blood that they are vomiting. Your vet will want to see your dog right away.

Abdomen is extremely bloated

Bloat can cause your dog’s stomach to be extremely enlarged causing them to vomit. Also, masses on the spleen and liver can cause your dog to vomit and have a bloated abdomen. Some dogs who have end stage congestive heart failure can have a very bloated abdomen and vomit. All of these are medical emergencies and should see a vet right away.

Gums are white

If your dog’s gums are pale and white, they may be bleeding internally. This can cause your dog to vomit and feel very bad. White gums can mean that your dog has low blood levels, and they may need a blood transfusion. You should take your dog to the vet right away if you notice that their gums are white.

If you see any of these signs in your dog and they are also vomit, it is best to go to the vet clinic or emergency hospital right away. The quicker they start receiving treatment the better the outcome.

Final Thoughts

If your dog is vomiting, there may be nothing wrong with them, causing them to vomit.  This may be just a one-time episode.  There also may be something medically wrong with your dog.  If they continue to vomit, it would be best to see your vet.  They can help determine what is causing them to vomit and help you get them the right treatment so that they can return to their happy and healthy life.

Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

I am a graduate of St. George's University with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. I have been practicing Veterinary Medicine for the past 5 years treating small animal and exotic animals. I own a dog, cat, rabbit, and tortoise. I have extensive knowledge treating all species of animals with a passion for surgery.

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