4 Things to Do If Your Dog Is Vomiting

Updated on November 26, 2017
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a small animal veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.

You should fast your dog (as long as it's not a puppy or tiny or elderly) to help its stomach recover after being upset.
You should fast your dog (as long as it's not a puppy or tiny or elderly) to help its stomach recover after being upset.

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.

  1. Upset stomach (gastritis) from eating garbage or spoiled food
  2. Eating too fast
  3. Eating toxic grass or plants
  4. Exercising after eating
  5. Car sickness
  6. Sudden diet change
  7. 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.

Sushi is not a normal diet for a dog.
Sushi is not a normal diet for a dog.

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

  1. Poisoning: Some poisons will cause vomiting. They need to be treated right away.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Some vomiting dogs will need x-rays.
Some vomiting dogs will need x-rays. | Source

What Kinds of Problems Might Show Up on a Physical Exam at the Vet?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?

See results

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


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    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 12 days ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Kellie, If it is only once a day and your dog is still eating and drinking okay, and is not dehydrated, it is okay to put him on a fast and see how he does. It may just be "garbage gut" from something he has eaten. No diarrhea or other problems? No fever? If you cannot tell if he is dehydated or answer these other questions you need to take him to your vet.

    • profile image

      Kellie 12 days ago

      My dog has thrown up once a day for the past couple of days. He hasn't eaten anything abnormal that we know of, eats regular dry dog food. We adopted him at about 4yo, he's only been with us for 5mo so we don't really know his medical history.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 weeks ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Ben, was the puppy vaccinated for parvo, at what age, and was the mother vaccinated? Have you fasted him? What age is he? There needs to be a lot more details before anything can be recommended, and if it is a case of your puppy having eaten a sock (or some non-digestible foreign body) then no medication is going to help.

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      ben 4 weeks ago

      My puppy is vomiting white foam and evn his toilet smells bad and watery ,while he vomits making weird sounds in his stomach.what medicine I should give him since we don't have any vet out hre.

    • profile image

      lisa 2 months ago

      being a certified vet assistant i always do the hamburger/chicken and rice for a few days.works like a charm and the dogs love it

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Savannah, as the article suggests, the first thing you should do is fast your dog. If the vomiting continues I reccomend you take him to your regular vet.

    • profile image

      Savannah Bliss 2 months ago

      My dog eats but she vomited 4 times today the first one was like thick white with brown vomit then the rest was like white bubbly vomit but when i show him toys he s still active and eats a bit but the last time he vomit its like he s having a hard time to throw up what should i do?

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Sadie, did you try fasting your dog? If you did, and the vomiting is still going on, you really need to take her to your regular vet. No one can diagnose her via the internet.

    • profile image

      Sadie 2 months ago

      My dog has been throwing up she threw up about twice yesterday, that I know of. And 3 times today. She's about 7-8 we got her from the pound we're not sure her age. But she is a tad bit overweight. Can someone help me?

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil



    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 8 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Monica, if this were my do I would not be concerned. Probably just rass. If this continues, however, have the pup looked at.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 8 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Lucky, if your do is voimitin blood he needs to be examined by your local vet, yes, it may be serious.

    • profile image

      Monica Ramirez 8 months ago

      My dog is three months, today she threw up green.. it looked like grass or so. This is the first time she ever throws up, she hasnt thrown up since. She is also not eating much. Should i be concerned ?..

    • profile image

      Tina Hartman 9 months ago

      My baby had surgery to remove a tumor 4 weeks ago. Everything checked out fine, however, she was not herself after surgery and began a routine of throwing up foam, once a day and had some diarrhea. Her vet did blood work and an X-ray and all was good! He gave her a shot to stop the vomiting and put her on a steroid. We are down to a half a pill every other day and the throw up has started back again! It is still just foam and not necessarily when she eats! I am worried to death but I don't know what else to do! Suggestions, thoughts?? Please help!

    • profile image

      Stephanie E Bauer 9 months ago

      Have 7 year old poodle that is vomiting bile 2 days ago she had direahea and throw up now stools normal and she throwing up least once a day bile what do you suggest

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 13 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      JehyemC, if your dog is vomiting that long even with an empty stomach he really needs to be examined by your local veterinarian.

    • profile image

      JehyemC 13 months ago

      My dog is not eating 3 days now and he vomits more than twice a day with an empty stomach. Last week, I introduced him to a new food and I think that was the reason. What should I do? :(

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 19 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Clifford--do you mean the mouthful of seaweed? That is my Pitbull.

    • profile image

      Clifford 19 months ago

      What kind of dog is the one that has a lot of seed weed in his mouth?

    • profile image

      Randy Clement 20 months ago

      48 hours ago I treated my dog, a shih-tzu mix, with a weight appropriate dose of pet armor ( fipronil). Now she has started vomiting. what should I do?

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Allison the most common cause of vomiting this time of year is pancreatitis, which is a life threatening problem, but it is really hard to help him without an exam. Dogs are in a lot of pain, which would explain the whining, so you really should get him to your vet as soon as possible.

      In the meantime, I would take him off of his regular kibble and feed him a very mild food, like rice and hamburger (no spices!) about 4 or 5 times a day, very small meals. You do not mention how big he is, but maybe 1/2 cup is a lot for a dog that size, and small meals are easier on his system. Good luck with him and let me know if I can be of any help.

    • profile image

      Allison 3 years ago

      My dog vomited a little brown foam last week and we ddidn't know why. He only has wellness dry kibble for small dog and some treats in between. We wondered if he ate something strange but the next day he resumed normal activity.

      This week he whines more (he usually doesn't whine unless for bathroom need). When we take him out to play he stops whining. But today he vomited a white foam and didn't want to eat or drink even treats. He was less active than normal although he ate 1/2 cup of dog food at night since I guess he was so hungry. I'm worried and can't take him the vet until 2 days later. Do you have any advice?

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hello Thelma glad I could help. Take care of Angus! I remember that he is one of those expensive dog breeds, but even those that are not deserve all of our care.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

      Thank you DrMark for writing this hub. My dog Angus vomited sometimes and I just caressed his tummy and asked myself what he had eaten. I did not give him food then until the next morning when I thought he was ok. I have given him water though he did not drink it. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful;-)

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Yes, I think witholding food is the best first step. It never hurts, and is great for those of us (canine and human) carrying around a few extra pounds. ((I guess it could hurt a 3 pound Yorkie, but wouldn´t hurt most dogs.))

      I just checked the "quiz". Looks like everyone is awake this morning. Glory be to Starbucks.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Another interesting article, Doc. It prompts a question...if the vomiting episode appears to be just the result of, say, eating grass or being given a piece of chourico or something that just doesn't agree with him, do you still recommend withholding food? Your quizzes are killers, though...I hope you grade on a curve :) Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks Kelly, I just read your story of Anakin and Brian and shared it on several sites. I really enjoyed reading about and seeing that unusual pair!


    • KellyG05030 profile image

      Kelly 5 years ago from New England

      Another excellent article, Dr. Mark! Thanks for the info!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Audrey.

      wetnosedogs, before those bowls were invented we used to suggest people put big rocks in their dog´s bowl--she would have to push them around with her nose when the food was "hiding" so she would be forced to eat slower. Jenny wouldn´t like you for it, of course.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      my dogs are doing good but that bowl you have displayed yells Jenny's name! She just gulps down her food. And while dogs could go a day or two without food, oh my dogs, especially Jenny wouldn't want to prove it. LOL.

      Great hub. I didn't realize food should be taken away. Makes sense though.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      Very useful article! Thank you!