After our dog eats, we expect food to quickly move through the dog’s esophagus and into the stomach, and then off to the journey into the intestinal tract. It can therefore be quite surprising and upsetting to see a dog vomiting undigested food, especially if it happens right after eating or perhaps even many hours later. If your dog is vomiting undigested food, it could be just something as innocent as eating too fast to more serious issues such as a blockage. Because of the many possibilities, its always best to see the vet if your dog happens to keep vomiting undigested food.
Is your dog bringing up undigested food right after eating? If so, there are chances you may be dealing with a case of regurgitation rather than vomiting. Here’s a brief guide on identifying the two.
In dogs that are regurgitating, the act of bringing up the undigested food is pretty much passive. Dogs will just lower their head and the food is coughed out passively. The food expelled is undigested since it never really made it to the stomach, and many dogs are tempted to re-eat the food considering that it’s not soaked in stomach acids and may still taste good.
During vomiting instead, dogs start feeling sick, perhaps they may drool and act apprehensive, and then, soon comes the retching with those powerful stomach contractions. Next thing you know, your dog’s lunch or dinner is brought up.
It’s important to note that not always regurgitation and vomiting can be this easily differentiated. There are cases where dogs may vomit shortly after eating and these are cases where dogs may regurgitate hours or even days later!
If you are unsure whether your dog is regurgitating or vomiting, you can bring a sample of what your dog expelled to your vet. Don’t feel squeamish about it: vets are used to seeing all sorts of things like this! Your vet can tell you what it is by looking at the sample, and when in doubt, he can run a quick test to measure the pH so to differentiate the two.
Causes of Dog Regurgitating Undigested Foods Minutes After Eating
If a dog is regurgitating after eating there may be several different causes. For example, if the dog’s esophagus loses tone, it ends up dilating which makes it no longer efficient in pushing the food into the stomach like it should. According to Washington State University this leads to a condition known as megaesophagus, which causes dogs to regurgitate food shortly after eating.
Other potential problems leading to dogs regurgitating undigested food shortly after eating include eating too fast, excitement, inflammation or strictures of the esophagus, esophageal foreign bodies, tumors and more.
” Vomiting that occurs in the immediate post-prandial period is usually suggestive of overeating, excitement, or disorders of the esophageal body or esophageal hiatus (e.g. hiatal hernia).”~Dr. Robert J. Washabau
Causes of Dog Vomiting Undigested Food Many Hours After Eating
You would expect that the food your dog ate for breakfast should have been digested and out of the stomach by now, instead your dog is vomiting undigested food 8 to 10 hours later, what is going on? Shouldn’t the food have left the stomach by now? This is something dog owners often wonder about, especially when the dog starts vomiting undigested food many hours later when it should have been gone for good.
There are several conditions that may cause a dog to vomit undigested food hours after eating, but only a vet can provide an accurate diagnosis.
In some cases, a dog vomiting undigested food many hours later can be a sign of a blockage. The dog may have ingested something that is interfering with the normal passage of food, affecting motility times. Dogs with a blockage may vomit, have abdominal pain, loss of appetite, trouble defecating or in some cases diarrhea. If you suspect your dog ate swallowed something that may cause a blockage, see your vet immediately.
Sometimes, dogs may have motility issues causing slowed down digestion times. The presence of food in the vomit may therefore point to a problem with motility. If the food is sitting by a dilated esophagus as seen in megaesophagus, the dog will regurgitate; whereas, if the motility disorder is farther down, the dog will be prone to vomit, explains veterinarian Dr. Kara,
Sometimes, it might be worthy, trying to feed a light formula dog food considering that more fiber in dog food helps increase motility by moving the food forward, suggests veterinarian Dr. Altman. Some dog owners have noticed improvements by adding fiber under the form of plain pumpkin (not the pie type that has spices added) added to their dogs’ meals.
For persistent cases, sometimes, veterinarians may suggest prescription motility drugs to stimulate the dog’s stomach valve to open and push food through.
The Bottom Line
As seen, there are several causes for your dog vomiting undigested food. Of course, there may be other potential causes for dogs vomiting undigested food. Whether your dog is regurgitating minutes after his meal or vomiting hours after eating, consider that it’s not normal and it should therefore be promptly investigated by a vet.
And don’t forget to describe the type of vomit you are seeing as it can make a whole lot of difference! Dr. Washabau, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in internal medicine explains that the presence of undigested food in a dog’s vomit is suggestive of a gastric problem, while the presence of digested food (chyme) is suggestive of an intestinal one.
Vomiting of undigested or partially digested food 8 or more hours post-prandially would suggest a distal gastric (corpus, antrum, and pylorus) motility disorder or obstruction. Dr. Robert J. Washabau