If you’re a dog owner, you know the sound. The one that shoots you out of bed in the middle of the night before you barely have a chance to open your eyes. Yup, you’ve got a vomiting dog. All jokes aside, vomiting in dogs can be a serious matter, so it’s important to monitor your pet closely if you notice this wretched sign. While not always pressing, vomiting can quickly become emergent, especially if you notice the following accompanying signs:

  • Fever
  • Inappetence
  • Diarrhea
  • Hematemesis (i.e., blood in vomit)
  • Abdominal distension or pain
  • Excessive drooling
  • Change in thirst or urination
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy
  • Intractable vomiting, or vomiting that lasts longer than 24 hours

Many pet owners are not sure how to differentiate between vomiting and regurgitation, which can complicate diagnosis and treatment. To make the distinction, watch your pet closely. A vomiting dog will use their body to heave and forcefully eject contents from the abdomen. Vomiting is an active process that is typically paired with an unpleasant, retching noise. Regurgitation, on the other hand, is a passive ejection of contents from the mouth or esophagus that usually occurs shortly after a meal.

If you’re wondering what’s causing your canine companion to expel their daily meal—or anything in between—consider the following common reasons why dogs vomit, or regurgitate:

  • Dietary indiscretion — Dogs like to eat—that’s no surprise—and many will take any opportunity to sink their teeth into something tasty, whether the garbage, compost pile, or leftover pizza on the counter. Dogs are scrounging experts, and vomiting is naturally a common side effect. If you notice your pet vomiting after eating something off-limits, monitoring them for 24 hours, if no other complications are present, is usually acceptable. However, always consult with our veterinary team first. In the meantime, it may be wise to Fido-proof your home to prevent any future episodes.
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction — Often a result of a dietary indiscretion, an obstruction can occur in your furry friend’s stomach or intestines when they ingest foreign objects, large bones, or other items that may become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract. This is an emergency. Signs of an obstruction are typically more severe, and will often include repeated vomiting, lethargy, inappetence, abdominal pain, lack of bowel movements, and dehydration. Call Emerald Animal Hospital immediately, or head to your nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency, if you suspect your pet is suffering from an obstruction.
  • Pancreatitis — Also known as pancreatic inflammation, this painful condition can occur secondary to ingestion of high-fat foods, or because of a genetic predisposition for the condition—ahem, miniature schnauzers. Pets who suffer from pancreatitis often have vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Many are susceptible to repeated episodes (i.e., chronic pancreatitis), and these pets must stick to strict, low-fat diets. If your pet has a history of pancreatitis, don’t ignore vomiting signs—contact your Emerald Animal Hospital veterinarian promptly.

  • Infectious disease — A whole host of unwelcome organisms can make their home in your pet’s gut, leading to vomiting, and other undesirable signs. Common canine conditions include parvovirus, and parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, or giardia. Puppies are most frequently affected by these infectious diseases and, because they have immature immune systems, are at risk for serious complications. Since many of these organisms are zoonotic (i.e., they can be transmitted between pets and people), prompt treatment should be pursued.
  • Eating too quickly — If your pup expels their food immediately after eating, they’re likely regurgitating rather than actively vomiting. This condition is common in puppies and overzealous eaters. If your pooch fits into one of these categories, consider purchasing a puzzle feeder to slow meal time, or offer smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. If your pet regurgitates, despite eating slowly and intentionally, they should be evaluated for an underlying cause. 

Of course, vomiting can signal numerous other health conditions, including kidney disease, inner ear problems, motion sickness, or brain tumors. At Emerald Animal Hospital, we are dedicated to helping your pet feel their best by getting to the root of their problems. Contact us if you are concerned about your pet’s vomiting.