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Vomiting in Dogs: Causes and Treatment

ASPCA logoA dog may vomit simply because he’s eaten something disagreeable or gobbled down too much food, too fast. But vomiting can also indicate something far more serious-your dog may have swallowed a toxic substance, or may be suffering from a condition that requires immediate medical attention. Vomiting can also be associated with gastrointestinal and systemic disorders that should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

What Might Cause a Sudden. or Acute, Episode of Vomiting?

  • Bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Diet-related causes (diet change, food intolerance, ingestion of garbage)
  • Foreign bodies (i.e. toys, bones, pieces of chewies) in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Acute liver failure or gall bladder inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Post-operative nausea
  • Ingestion of toxic substances
  • Viral infections
  • Certain medications or anesthetic agents
  • Bloat
  • Heatstroke
  • Car sickness
  • Infected uterus

Vomiting that occurs sporadically or irregularly over a longer period of time can be due to stomach or intestinal inflammation, severe constipation, cancer, kidney dysfunction, liver disease or systemic illness.

What Should I Do If My Dog Vomits Frequently?

An occasional, isolated bout of vomiting may not be of concern. However, frequent or chronic vomiting can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as colitis, intestinal obstruction or parvovirus. If your dog’s vomiting is not an isolated incident, please bring him to the vet right away for a complete examination and diagnostic testing.

What Other Symptoms Should I Watch For?

The causes of vomiting are so varied that sometimes obtaining a diagnosis can be difficult, so it’s important to give your veterinarian as much information as possible and indicate if other signs are also occurring. What to watch for:

  • Frequency of vomiting. If your dog vomits once and proceeds to eat regularly and have a normal bowel movement, the vomiting was most likely an isolated incident.
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Blood in vomit
  • Weight loss
  • Change in appetite
  • Increase or decrease in thirst or urination

 

When Is It Time to See the Vet?

Please see your vet if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, if your dog vomits more than once during the course of a day, or if vomiting persists past one day. 

How Will My Vet Determine What's Causing the Vomiting?

Depending on your pet’s age, medical history, physical examination findings and your dog’s particular symptoms, your veterinarian may choose to perform various diagnostic tests (bloodwork, radiographs, ultrasound, fecal examination, endoscopy, biopsy or even exploratory surgery) in order to make a diagnosis.

What Are Some Treatment Options?

You can baby your dog as you would a sick child and give him homemade food such as boiled potatoes, rice and well-cooked, skinless chicken. In certain situations, your dog may require fluid therapy, antibiotics, a change in diet, antiemetics (drugs to help control vomiting) or other medication. It is best to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding appropriate treatment.

 

WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA

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