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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Vomiting View In Dogs

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Condition Overview

Vomiting is common in dogs. All vomiting is the result of activating the vomiting center in the brain. The vomiting center is well developed in dogs, so dogs vomit more readily than most other animals. As a dog perceives a need to vomit, he becomes anxious and may seek attention and reassurance.

Symptoms

Vomiting begins with the simultaneous contraction of the muscles of the stomach and abdominal wall. There is an abrupt increase in intra-abdominal pressure. The lower esophagus relaxes, allowing the stomach contents to travel up the esophagus and out the mouth. The dog extends his neck and makes harsh gagging sounds. This sequence should be distinguished from the passive act of regurgitation.

Causes

The most common cause of vomiting is eating un-digestible substances such as grass, that irritate the lining of the stomach. Another cause of vomiting is overeating (dogs that may have gotten into their dog food bag). Puppies who gobble their food and play afterward are likely to vomit. This after meal vomiting is frequently caused by feeding a group of puppies from a common food pan. Since they are all competing for food, each one eats as much as he possibly can. Separating puppies, or feeding them small frequent meals, eliminates the possibility of gorging.

Dogs may vomit when they are upset, excited, or suffering from a phobia (thunderstorms). Phobic dogs also drool, whine, paw, and tremble. Puppies with heavy loads of roundworms may vomit up some worms.

Vomiting occurs with most acute infectious diseases. It also occurs with many chronic diseases, including kidney and liver failure, Cushing's syndrome, Addison's disease, and diabetes mellitus.

To determine the cause of vomiting, note whether it is repeated, and if so, whether it is sporadic or persistent.

  • How soon after eating does it occur?
  • Is it projectile?
Inspect the vomitus for blood, fecal material, and foreign objects.

Diagnosis

Persistent Vomiting: If the dog vomits or retches repeatedly, bringing up a frothy, clear fluid, this suggests a stomach irritation such as acute gastritis. However, persistent vomiting also occurs with life threatening diseases such as acute pancreatitis, gastric outflow obstruction, intestinal obstruction, and peritonitis.

Persistent retching without producing any vomitus is typical of bloat. Repeated vomiting along with diarrhea suggests acute infectious enteritis.

Sporadic Vomiting: Sometimes a dog vomits off and on over a period of days or weeks. There is no relationship to meals. the appetite is poor. The dog has a haggard look and appears listless. Suspect liver or kidney disease, or an illness such as chronic gastritis, stomach or duodenal ulcer, a heavy worm infestation, or diabetes mellitus.

A foreign body in the stomach is another possibility. In an older dog, suspect a gastric or intestinal tumor. A veterinary checkup is in order.

Vomiting Blood: Red blood in the vomitus indicates active bleeding somewhere between the mouth and the upper small bowel. Common causes are stomach and duodenal ulcers, gastrointestinal foreign bodies, and gastric tumors. Material that looks like coffee grounds is old, partially digested blood. This also indicates a bleeding point between the mouth and upper small bowel. Any dog who vomits blood should be seen by a vet.

Vomiting Feces: A dog who vomits foul material that looks and smells like feces is most likely suffering from intestinal obstruction or peritonitis. Seek immediate professional treatment. Dogs who eat feces may also do this, but it will be an isolated incident.

Projectile Vomiting: Projectile vomiting is forceful vomiting in which the stomach contents are ejected a considerable distance. Typically it occurs in a dog with gastric outflow obstruction. Diseases that cause pressure on the brain (tumors, encephalitis, blood clots) also cause projectile vomiting.

Vomiting Foreign Objects: Dogs may also vomit foreign objects, including rubber balls, pieces of toys, sticks and stones. Puppies with a heavy roundworm infestation may vomit adult worms. These pups should be treated as describes in Ascarids.

Treatment

If there is any question about the cause or seriousness of the vomiting, seek veterinary help. Vomiting dogs can quickly become dehydrated as they lose body fluids and electrolytes. Home treatment is appropriate only for normal, healthy adult dogs who show no signs other than vomiting. Puppies, dogs with pre-existing health conditions, old old dogs are less able to tolerate dehydration and should be treated by a veterinarian.

An important initial step is to rest the stomach by withholding food and water for a minimum of 12 hours. If the vomiting stops with stomach rest, the dog can be permitted to lick a few ice chips every 3 - 4 hours. If the vomiting has stopped, offer 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water (63 - 125ml), depending on the size of the dog, every 2 - 3 hours. A pediatric electrolyte solution can be given in small amounts, in addition to the water.

After 12 hours with no vomiting, start the dog on a bland diet such as two parts boiled rice mixed with one part ground beef or chicken (boil the meat to remove the fat - fat delays stomach emptying). Other bland foods that may be substituted are cottage cheese, canned mackerel, strained meat baby food, chicken noodle soup, and chicken and rice soup. Begin by offering small amounts (1 - 2 tablespoons - 15 - 30ml at a time) every 2 - 3 hours. Increase the volume over the next two days and gradually return the dog to his customary diet.
Note: Stop all food and water and obtain immediate veterinary assistance when:

  • Vomiting persists despite the fact that the dog has received no food or water for several hours
  • Vomiting recurs during attempts to reintroduce food and water
  • Vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea
  • The dog vomits fresh blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • The dog becomes weak and lethargic or shows other signs of systemic illness.

Pepto-Bismol is an effective, safe, and reliable way to help manage vomiting in dogs. It coats the stomach wall to sooth the upset, and the ingredient bismuth absorbs the bacterial toxins that can prompt vomiting. The dose for dogs is 1/2 - 1 teaspoon per 5 lbs of body weight - up to a maximum of 2 tablespoons up to 3 times a day. DO NOT give Pepto-Bismol to cats. Pepcid AC may also do the trick and the dose is 5mg per 10 lbs of body weight once or twice a day.

Prevention

There is no prevention for vomiting.

Support

Please contact your veterinarian if you think the vomiting is caused by an illness.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats

Publisher: Bantam Dell Publishing, 1996

Website: http://www.randomhouse.com/bantamdell/

Authors: Matthew Hoffman, Laura Catalano, Maryanne Dell

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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