Vomiting is extremely common in dogs and has many different causes. Many cases clear up very quickly, with a trip to the vets not being necessary. However, in some cases it can be a sign of a serious underlying problem, so it is important to know what to look for and to contact a vet if you have any concerns.
What causes it?
There are a huge range of causes for vomiting in dogs, which include:
- Scavenging or eating spoiled or rotten food
- Various toxins
- Certain viruses or bacteria e.g. parvovirus
- Foreign bodies causing a gut blockage
- Sudden changes in diet
- Motion sickness
- Food allergies or sensitivity
- Intestinal parasites e.g. worms (most common in puppies)
- Metabolic causes including liver and kidney disease
- Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE)
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Certain gastrointestinal cancers
- Vestibular disease and other balance problems
- Addison’s disease
How do I know if my dog is feeling sick?
Typical symptoms of nausea include:
- Lip licking and drooling
- Swallowing more than usual
- Eating grass
- Not eating
When should I contact my vet?
This is a very important question, since many cases will get better on their own, while others will need urgent veterinary attention. If your dog vomits then it is important to keep a close eye on them, in case they continue to vomit or show other signs of being unwell.
Please contact your vet straight away if:
- Your dog continues to vomit for more than 24 hours
- They are continuously being sick and cannot keep anything down
- They are very young or very old
- They are vomiting and have other health conditions
- They are also showing any of the following symptoms:
- A bloated abdomen
- A painful abdomen (they may adopt a ‘prayer’ position)
- Unproductive retching and vomiting (i.e. they are trying to be sick but nothing is coming up)
- Signs of dehydration e.g. sticky gums or sunken eyes
- Blood or dark coloured granules in their vomit (this is digested blood)
- Wobbliness or collapse
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How is the cause diagnosed?
Your vet will carry out a full examination of your pet and ask you some questions about the last few days to try and determine whether they could have eaten something unusual or that they shouldn’t. If your dog is quite unwell, or if it has been going on for a few days, then the vet is likely to suggest some further tests such as blood tests and abdominal imaging such as an ultrasound scan and/or x-rays.
How is it treated?
Treatment will depend on the severity of the vomiting and the underlying cause. If your dog is only mildly affected then the vet is likely to suggest a bland diet, some anti-sickness medication and some treatment to help with any diarrhoea. Have a look at our shop for some fantastic products to help with tummy upsets, including our TummySOS, which is a great product to have in the cupboard as you never know when a bout may strike!
With more severe vomiting and if your vet is concerned about dehydration, your dog may need to be hospitalised to be put onto an intravenous drip to make them feel better. They would also receive additional medication as needed during their stay.
If the cause of the vomiting is an intestinal blockage or a twisted stomach, then your dog will need surgery. The earlier this is performed the better their chances of recovery.
Most cases of vomiting improve within a few days, but please monitor your dog carefully and contact a vet if you have any concerns with their condition.
Can vomiting be prevented?
While it cannot always be prevented - due to the number of different causes – the risk of vomiting can be reduced by doing the following:
- Try to prevent scavenging where possible (consider muzzle training if they are a repeat offender!)
- Only make diet changes very gradually – do not suddenly switch their food
- Ensure they are up to date with vaccinations and worming (check out our subscription service so that you never forget a treatment!)