4 Things to Do If Your Dog Is Vomiting
If your dog only vomits once and then stops, don't worry. Sometimes he or she may have eaten too fast, or perhaps they might have an upset tummy after eating something strange while "dumpster-diving" or otherwise rooting around in weird foods.
If your dog vomits several times, however, and looks like they might continue to do so, you need to take action. Here are some steps to follow.
1. Fast Your Dog
Take away your dog´s food so that their stomach can rest. Though there is some controversy about this, a healthy dog can easily go without food for 24 hours.
If you feel better about taking your dog to the vet right away, that is certainly okay. The exam or lab work might reveal an abnormality that can be treated immediately.
2. Be Careful About Your Dog Drinking Water
Make sure your dog is not drinking and filling up on water; if they are drinking, they are not fasting. Be sure to close the bathroom door and put the seat down!
If your dog is old, very tiny, or has other health problems, keeping them without water is NOT a good idea. An old dog should be taken to the vet as soon as they start vomiting.
3. After the Vomiting Stops, Let the Dog Have Some Bland Food and Small Amounts of Water
If vomiting stops after a simple fast, they can be put back onto water. You can do this by giving the dog ice cubes to lick, and then small amounts of water if the dog holds them down with no problems. You can also offer bland food — white rice with boiled hamburger or chicken breast is a good diet to use when it is time to resume feeding. A 75% rice to 25% low-fat meat is a good ratio to follow.
If they are holding everything down, you should feed the dog small meals four or five times a day for a few days, and then switch back to regular food slowly.
I do not recommend you give any over-the-counter medications to stop the vomiting. If the dog needs medication, they should be examined before you attempt any kind of treatment.
4. If the Dog Continues to Vomit, Take Them to Be Seen by a Vet
If your dog continues to vomit even on an empty stomach, is experiencing other symptoms like lethargy, or starts vomiting again as soon as you begin feeding them, you need to take them to your vet for a physical exam and lab work. Do this as soon as possible since some problems, like bloat, need to be taken care of as soon as possible. If it is not treated, the dog will die.
Take some of the dog's vomit (in a small plastic bag) with you if possible and be sure to tell the vet if you have seen any blood or black color in the vomit.
Simple Reasons Your Dog Might Vomit
These are some of the less serious conditions that may cause your dog to vomit. In these scenarios, your dog will usually just vomit once and then stop vomiting as soon as their stomach calms down.
- Upset stomach (gastritis) from eating garbage or spoiled food
- Eating too fast
- Eating toxic grass or plants
- Exercising after eating
- Car sickness
- Sudden diet change
- Post-operative nausea
If your dog just vomits once but otherwise appears healthy, it's likely they're OK and just had an upset tummy.
Why Is My Dog Still Vomiting, Even on an Empty Stomach?
If your dog is still vomiting even after not eating or drinking anything, it's a sign that something more serious may be happening and you should seek medical attention for your dog immediately. This is especially true if your dog is lethargic, refuses food, or has a tender abdomen.1
- Poisoning: Some poisons will cause vomiting. They need to be treated right away.
- Bloat: If the dog's stomach is swollen and filled with gas, it will become extremely painful. The dog will try to vomit but nothing will come out. If your dog is trying to vomit but nothing is coming out, go to his vet.
- Stomach ulcers or cancer: Your dog might be vomiting up fresh blood (red) or digested blood (black). If you notice “coffee grounds” in your dog's vomit, that is a sign that she is bleeding a lot. You need to go to the vet to find out why.
- Blocked intestine: Your dog can have a blockage from eating something (like a rubber ball) or might even be blocked by a piece of his own intestine (intussusception). Other symptoms of intestinal blockage include difficulty defecating and abdominal pain. Your vet will have to take x-rays to find out if this is what's happening.
- Infection: Parvovirus is the most common — its symptoms also include fever and diarrhea. There are also several other types of infection will cause a dog to vomit. If the dog continues to vomit and you do not get help, they will become even sicker and could possibly die.
- Neurological or psychological issues: Some neurological issues can cause your dog to vomit, such as a brain tumor, meningitis, middle ear problem, anxiety, or fear. Other warning signs include stumbling or lack of balance, head shaking, and vision problems.
What Kinds of Problems Might Show Up on a Physical Exam at the Vet?
- Pancreatitis: Your dog is especially at risk for this if it is obese or at least has a history of eating fatty garbage. Symptoms (aside from vomiting) include a painful belly and loss of appetite. Besides the blood work, your vet will recommend x-rays to check the pancreas. To reduce the risk of pancreatitis, owners of obese dogs should start their pet on a weight loss program.
- Kidney disease: If your dog ate a poison or is old and suffering from kidney failure, they will start vomiting because the toxins in their body are making them sick. Your vet can find this out with a lab test.
- Liver failure: There will probably be a lot of signs besides vomiting. Your dog's gums will be pale, and then yellow. Its belly might be swollen, and they might even have seizures. If you notice these symptoms, as well as the vomiting, you need to take your dog to the vet for an exam and lab work.
- Diabetes: Your dog can develop diabetes for several reasons, and one of them is pancreatitis that happens over and over, destroying the pancreas over time. Their pancreas is no longer able to produce insulin, and they can develop a condition called ketoacidosis, and will start vomiting as a result. Other symptoms of diabetes include extreme thirst, frequent urination, and sweet breath.
- Ruptured bladder: Sometimes a dog can have a ruptured bladder after being hit by a car. They would not start vomiting until a few days later, when the toxins get into the bloodstream. The vet will be able to tell this from the exam, blood work, and x-rays.
- Pyometra: This is an infection of the uterus that your dog can get if it's a female that isn't spayed. If she has it, she will drink a lot of water, have discharge from her vagina, and eventually start vomiting. The vet will notice abnormalities on the exam and the blood work. This is a life-threatening condition, so she will need surgery.
What should you do if your dog is vomiting?
There are a lot of things to think about if your dog is vomiting — and there are many other abnormalities that you might not even notice but that your vet would pick up during a physical exam. If you are worried about your dog being too old, weak, or depressed, or especially if she is vomiting after you stop feeding her, take her in right away.
Vomiting may be nothing to worry about, or it may be a sign of something serious. It is your job to find out why.
Wishing you and your dog good health!
Questions & Answers
My dog threw up bile last night 3 Times. The vomiting has stopped, and she will drink water but not eat. She has been pretty calm all day but did go on her walks. When should I be concerned?
Start her on a bland diet (check the article) today and see if she is eating normally without vomiting again. If she is, great. If not, take her to your regular vet.
My 4 month old beagle lab had parvo about a month ago. I was told she was Parvo free now. In the past 2 days, she has been throwing up clear liquid and has been very gassy. Should I be concerned?
It is extremely unlikely that your dog has been exposed to a strain of the parvo virus to which she has no immunity, so I would not be concerned about that. I would be concerned if she is throwing up so much that she is becoming dehydrated, she is vomiting and also has behavioral changes (like depression), or if she has diarrhea (you already mention gassy).
It sounds like garbage gut gastritis, but there is no way to diagnose this without an exam and sometimes blood work and xrays. A four month old puppy is old enough to hold off of food for a day. If the vomiting continues even when she is not eating, or if she starts vomiting again as soon as you put her back on the food, she will need to see your regular vet.
My 4-month-old German Shepherd has all her shots; tonight she suddenly started drinking a large amount of water and whines and then vomits it all up. The vomit is clear. Should I be concerned?
You should always be concerned when a puppy starts to vomit. Do you need to take her to your vet? No, not at first. Follow the directions in the article and fast her for 24 hours, give water but in moderation (small amounts at a time, so she does not overdo it), then call your vet if the vomiting continues.
My puppy has been vomiting for three days without eating food. What should I do?
Take your puppy to your regular veterinarian immediately.