Vomiting can happen for a number of different reasons ranging from mild gastric upset to more serious emergency situations such as poisoning. Today, our Toledo vets talk about the causes of vomiting in dogs and how to know if they are experiencing a veterinary emergency.
Stomach Upset: Why do dogs sometimes vomit?
If your dog has an upset stomach then it is likely that they may at some point vomit.
While this can be quite gross and extremely concerning, it is your pet’s way of emptying their stomach of indigestible material to prevent it from remaining in their system, or from reaching other areas of their body.
The Common Causes of Vomiting in Dogs
There is a long list of reasons why a dog may vomit, some being as simple as your dog ate something that has made their tummy feel gross.
It’s possible your pooch could have eaten too quickly, dined on too much grass or eaten something their stomach simply doesn't agree with. This type of vomiting may be a one-time occurrence and not be accompanied by any other symptoms. So, vomiting in dogs isn't always a reason for concern.
That said, potential causes of acute vomiting (sudden or severe) can be related to diseases, disorders or health complications such as:
- Ingestion of poisons, toxins or food
- Reaction to medication
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Change in diet
When is vomiting in dogs a concern?
Most dogs will vomit on occasion. If your dog vomits once or even twice, shows no other symptoms, then returns to normal, there is likely nothing to worry about. (Although we still recommend calling your vet to let them know).
That said, in some cases, vomiting can be a clear indication of a serious medical issue that needs urgent care. Contact your vet right away if you see any of these signs:
- Vomiting in conjunction with other symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, fever, anemia, etc.
- Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as food, objects, children’s toy, etc.)
- Vomiting a lot at one time
- Vomiting/dry heaving with nothing coming up
- Vomiting blood
- Chronic vomiting
- Continuous, repeated or recurring vomiting
- Vomiting accompanied by bloody diarrhea
- If vomit appears foamy, or bright green (See below for details)
What are the usual causes of 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:
- Liver or kidney failure
- Uterine infection
- Intestinal obstruction
Regardless of the situation, the most important thing will be to contact your vet right away if your dog begins to vomit. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for veterinary health.
What do the different colors of vomit mean?
Did you know that the color and texture of your dog's vomit can say a lot about what is happening to them?That said, here is what some types of vomit indicate in dogs:
- Bright green or team vomit could mean that your pup has ingested rodent poison. Immediate veterinary care is essential! Contact your nearest emergency vet right away or for further advice call the ASPCA poison control hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
- Black or brown vomit that looks a bit like coffee grounds can indicate poisoning, ulcers, intestinal blockage, viral conditions, tick-borne diseases or cancer.
- Bright red vomit can be a sign of gastritis, ulcers, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), foreign body ingestion, trauma (injured stomach, hit by a car), clotting issues, heat stroke, parvovirus, or inflammation of the stomach.
- Light brown could mean that your dog has ingested chocolate, swallowed mud or dirt, has an intestinal blockage, or has been eating poop.
- Foamy or white vomit can be a sign of bloat or GDV.
If you are taking your dog to the vet due to vomiting take a sample of the vomit with you for your veterinarian to examine. Why this may seem yucky it can save time (and maybe even your dog's life) when determining the cause of your dog's vomiting.
What if my dog ate or drank something toxic?
If you believe that your dog has ingested a toxic substance, immediately contact your veterinarian or emergency vet, or call Poison Control for more advice. Your vet may provide various recommendations including to induce vomiting in dogs, but you should never do so without the explicit instructions of a vet.
What steps should I take if the vomiting isn't an emergency?
If you have ruled out an emergency cause for your dog vomiting and have determined that they just aren't feeling well there are a few ways you can help your pup. Of course, we recommend that you still call your vet to let them know what's happening, your vet knows your dog best and could offer suggestions on how best to handle your dog's tummy troubles. That said, many vets recommend the following approaches for mild gastric upset in dogs.
- Skip your dog's next meal then provide a smaller portion for the following meal. If your dog does not vomit again return to normal feeding.
- Provide your dog with a light on-the-stomach GI formula dog food from your vet's office to help ease them back to normal eating.
- Make your dog a light meal of cooked chicken and boiled rice and feed it in small portions.
- Provide your dog with plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.
- If your dog is not back to normal within 24 hours call your vet to book an examination for your pup.
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.