If your dog is vomiting, it’s important to understand why. First off, it’s important to learn the differences between vomiting, regurgitation and coughing up foam.
When a dog is about to vomit, he often appears uncomfortable. He may salivate and lick his lips repeatedly from the nausea. If sent outdoors, he may start nibbling on grass in an attempt to induce himself to vomit. Afterward, you may notice strong muscle contractions in the stomach area accompanied by noisy retching. Your dog will likely walk around a bit until he empties his stomach.
The vomit may appear yellow if he has an empty stomach, but if he recently ate, you’ll likely see food, and if he got into something he shouldn’t have, most likely you’ll see that too in the vomit if it was ingested recently. The vomit is typically liquid, with digested or semi-digested food. Generally, food stays in the stomach for about 2 hours so anything in the stomach within that time frame will be brought up.
On the other hand, a dog that is regurgitating, won’t typically appear anxious beforehand, the food escapes the mouth almost passively. The regurgitated food will appear undigested and because it didn’t make it in time to reach the stomach, it has a tubular shape since it comes from the esophagus. The dog brings it up with little effort and doesn’t appear sick. For more on causes of regurgitation read this article tackling diagnosis of dog regurgitation.
Finally, some dogs may cough and bring up white saliva when they are suffering from kennel cough, but something similar can be seen in dog bloat. Bloat is a life threatening condition so if your dog appears restless, has a distended abdomen and is retching without vomiting but bringing up saliva, you need to see your vet immediately!
So after confirming that your dog is actually vomiting, (in some cases you may need the help of your vet) let’s take a look at some possible causes of vomiting in dogs. The following list is not for diagnostic purposes, only your vet after performing a physical exam and performing various diagnostic tests can tell you why your dog may be vomiting!
- Gastritis (inflammation of stomach)
- Abrupt diet changes
- Food intolerance
- Garbage gut
- Ingestion of toxins
- Colitis (inflammation of colon)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Parvo virus
- Motion sickness
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas)
- Addison disease
- Side effects from medications
- Pyometra in intact female dogs
As seen, the causes of vomiting in dogs can be various! However, if you know with certainty that your dog’s vomiting is triggered from a dietary indiscretion or an abrupt diet change (and it didn’t involve toxic foods, fatty foods or bones) and your dog is active and not lethargic, you can try some home remedies as outlined in the dog upset stomach remedies article.
If on the other hand, things aren’t that obvious, a vet visit is your best option for peace of mind. Be ready to provide your vet with answers to the the following questions:
- Did your dog vomit or regurgitate?
- When did it start?
- Describe the vomit (you can bring a sample to the vet)
- Is the vomit projectile?
- How often did your dog vomit?
- Any other symptoms?
- Is your dog taking any medications?
- Any new foods or treats?
With this information along with some diagnostic testing, your vet can put all the puzzle pieces together and hopefully come up with a diagnosis, so your dog’s upset stomach can be treated accordingly.