My Dog is Vomiting—What Should I Do?

It can be upsetting when your dog vomits. However, in an otherwise healthy dog, vomiting can be seen as a dog’s digestive system taking preventative action. Dogs are scavengers, which may explain their fondness for snacking on non-food items ranging from underwear to cat poop. With a bit of luck, dogs who have eaten something potentially harmful vomit up the offending substance soon after ingestion.

There are a multitude of other reasons why your dog may vomit. Causes range from the easily fixable, such as a food intolerance, to the more complicated like inflammatory bowel disease. There are also many life-threatening causes such as a foreign object stuck in the intestines or infectious diseases like parvovirus.

Sometimes a dog is nauseous but won’t actually vomit. Signs of nausea include licking lips, drooling and retching. A large breed dog such as a German Shepherd that is retching, but not actually vomiting, may have a bloated, twisted stomach. This can be life threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Treating vomiting at home:

If your dog has vomited once and is otherwise bright and happy, it may not be necessary to take him straight to your family veterinarian. Depending on your dog’s size and age, your veterinarian will likely advise you to withdraw food and water temporarily to give the digestive system a chance to rest. You will then introduce water slowly and watch for signs of nausea or vomiting. After that you can start a bland diet for a short period of time. This can be boiled chicken and white rice or a commercial diet that your family veterinarian can give you.

When to be concerned:

If you are concerned about your pet’s vomiting, it is always best to check with your veterinarian. Also remember that small or very young dogs can become dehydrated very quickly. Prompt veterinary attention can sometimes prevent a prolonged hospital stay, and in some cases can save lives!


Some causes of vomiting are preventable. If your dog eats things that it shouldn’t, you can make sure anything he or she sees as a potential snack is kept out of reach. Also, make sure your garbage is secure. Veterinarians frequently see cases in which the vomiting patient has got into the trash. Be especially vigilant with toxic items such as grapes or raisins, chocolate, food with garlic or onions in it, and prescription drugs. Remember to discuss preventative measures with any house guests. All too frequently, a well-meaning visitor will offer a dog table food or leave prescription (or recreational) drugs within a pet’s reach.  In one case, the dog sitter baked a dark chocolate cake for the owner and left it on the counter. The owner returned home from vacation to find an empty plate, large piles of brown vomit and a very sick dog.