Vomiting in Dogs

Dogs can vomit for many reasons, such as an upset stomach or a serious health problem. In this blog, our Tucson vets talk about the causes of vomiting in dogs and when you should call your veterinarian.

Why Dogs Vomit

When dogs vomit it's most likely a sign of an irritated stomach, inflamed intestines, or gastrointestinal upset. While vomiting isn't pleasant for dogs or their owners, it's your pet's way of emptying their stomach of indigestible material, to keep it from staying in their system or reaching other areas of their body.

Vomiting or Regurgitation

Regurgitation is when a dog looks like they are "burping" up undigested food, this is a passive process where food is expelled, usually from the esophagus. This often happens when a dog eats or drinks too fast. Vomiting is a dynamic process, where dogs actively use their stomach muscles. The material produced by vomiting will look digested.

Causes of Dog Vomiting

Dogs may vomit for many reasons, and there are occasions where healthy dogs become ill for no apparent reason and then quickly recover.

Maybe your pup ate too much grass or consumed something that doesn't agree with their stomach. This type of vomiting is often a one-time event that isn't accompanied by other symptoms and is usually not a reason for concern.

Although, possible causes of sudden or severe vomiting can be related to diseases, disorders, or health complications such as:

  • Change in diet
  • Bloat
  • Heatstroke
  • Reaction to medication
  • Ingestion of poisons or toxins
  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure

When You Should Worry About Your Dog's Vomiting

Sometimes, vomiting can be a sign of a serious veterinary emergency. If your dog exhibits any of the following in addition to vomiting, bring them to the nearest animal emergency clinic immediately:

  • Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as food, objects, children’s toy, etc.)
  • Vomiting in conjunction with other symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, fever, anemia, etc.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Vomiting a lot at one time
  • Vomiting blood
  • Vomiting with nothing coming up
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Seizures

Chronic Vomiting in Dogs

If your dog has been vomiting frequently or if their vomiting has turned into a long-term or chronic problem, this is also a reason to be worried, especially if you've noticed any additional symptoms like abdominal pain, lethargy, weakness, or weight loss.

If your dog is having frequent bouts of vomiting, we recommend having them examined by a veterinary professional, so the underlying cause can be diagnosed.

Long term, recurrent vomiting can be related to:

  • Constipation
  • Uterine infection
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Colitis
  • Cancer

What To Do If Your Dog Won’t Stop Vomiting

Your vet will need your help to find the cause of your dog's vomiting and will have to know your pup's medical history and recent activities. For example, if your dog has been curiously exploring the kids’ rooms or you’ve caught them sniffing the refrigerator, it’s possible they could have gotten into something they shouldn’t have.

You spend every day with your dog, so you will likely be your vet’s best source of information when it comes to diagnosing the problem. Your vet can then test, diagnose and treat the condition.

How To Induce Vomiting in Dogs

If you know your pup has ingested something they shouldn't have, you may find yourself searching "how to induce vomiting in dogs" to find a way to help your dog eject the item they ate. However, you should know that we do not recommend inducing vomiting at home, except under extreme circumstances.

Before trying to induce vomiting at home, you should always call a veterinarian or a veterinary poison control center for advice. They will be able to tell you if it is necessary to induce vomiting and will guide you through the process.

While vomiting can safely bring up most toxins, a few will cause more damage by passing through the esophagus a second time. These include bleach, cleaning products, other caustic chemicals, and petroleum-based products.

Deciding whether vomiting should be induced at home depends on what and how much your dog has consumed, and how much time has passed - there's a chance that the substance or amount consumed wasn't toxic, or that it has already moved past their stomach and into other parts of their body. In either case, vomiting would not be a helpful solution.

The only safe at-home substance that can be used to induce vomiting in dogs is 3% hydrogen peroxide. Use a turkey baster or feeding syringe to squirt the suggested dose of 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per 5 pounds of the dog’s body weight by mouth, with a maximum dose of 3 tablespoons for dogs who weigh more than 45 pounds. Always talk to a vet before attempting this procedure and never try to induce vomiting if it has been more than 2 hours since your pup ingested the harmful substance.

You should also be careful to not let your dog inhale the solution as it can enter the lungs and cause asphyxiation.

If your dog has a pre-existing health condition or there are other symptoms, inducing vomiting may result in other health risks. If induced vomiting is required, it's best to have a qualified veterinarian induce vomiting in-clinic.

When To Not Induce Vomiting

Vomiting should never be induced in a dog that is:

  • Already vomiting
  • Lethargic
  • Having a seizure or recently had a seizure
  • Unresponsive or unconscious

Hydrogen peroxide should not be used to induce vomiting in cats, as it is too irritating to kitties' stomachs and can cause issues with the esophagus.

How Veterinarians Induce Vomiting

Veterinarians will carefully examine your dog to determine if it is safe to induce vomiting. If it's determined that this action should be taken, special medication with minimal side effects will be used (as opposed to hydrogen peroxide). If your dog does experience any side effects, the vet will be equipped to administer proper care and medication.

What To Do If You Think Your Dog Ingested a Toxin

The best thing you can do after your pet ingests a toxin is to immediately contact your veterinarian or Poison Control. This way, your vet can immediately provide advice about whether you should bring your pet in, or if they think you can or should induce vomiting at home.

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.

Contact our Tucson vets today and schedule an appointment if your dog is suffering from chronic vomiting.