Dog Vomiting: Conditions, Diagnosis and Treatment
Dogs are notorious for eating things not considered edible by human standards.
Dog vomiting may be caused by poor canine judgment, also known as dietary indiscretion, and may not be much cause for concern. However, vomiting can also be a symptom of serious or even life-threatening conditions that require emergency medical attention and should be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.
It's important to note the difference between vomiting (using effort to bring food/liquid up) and regurgitation (no effort demonstrated when bringing food/liquid up) as they have significantly different causes and treatments.
In this video, Dr. Erick Mears, BluePearl's Medical Director in Tampa Bay, explains the difference in symptoms between dogs suffering from toxicity versus those who ate a foreign object.
Dietary Indiscretion or Serious Concern?
Prompt attention from a veterinarian should be sought if your dog vomits multiple times in one day or for more than one day in a row. In addition, you should seek veterinary attention if your dog shows the following symptoms accompanied by vomiting:
- Loss of appetite
- Change in frequency of urination
- Change in thirst
- Blood in vomit or stool
- Unusual or severe lethargy
- Pale or white gums
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Conditions Characterized by Dog Vomiting
Usually, a dog who vomits once but proceeds to have normal bowel movements and eating habits will recover without incident. However, it is strongly recommended that chronic vomiting or vomiting accompanied by additional symptoms is evaluated by your family veterinarian in order to rule out potentially life-threatening underlying causes.
Chronic vomiting in dogs may be a symptom of a variety of conditions, including:
- Infectious diseases (ex. tick-borne diseases)
- Dietary allergies
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Metabolic disease (such as kidney or liver failure, pancreatitis, diabetes, Addison’s disease, etc)
Acute and sudden vomiting in dogs may also be a symptom of a variety of conditions, including:
- Parasites in the intestines
- Intestinal obstruction
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Ingestion of a toxic substance
- Addison’s disease
Diagnosis and Treatment for Dog Vomiting
Treatment largely depends on the underlying cause of why a dog is vomiting. Veterinarians will often conduct a number of fairly simple diagnostic tests such as blood work, fecal analysis and x-rays to pinpoint an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, an abdominal ultrasound may be recommended to evaluate internal organs more extensively.
In more chronic cases or cases more difficult to diagnose, further diagnostics such as a blood test for pancreatitis, a test for Addison’s disease, or even surgery to obtain biopsies may be required to identify the underlying cause.
Common treatments for dog vomiting caused by an inflammation of the stomach or intestines (gastroenteritis), include feeding a bland diet and/or anti-nausea medication. More serious conditions often require more intensive therapy such as fluids, hospitalization with injectable medication, and in some cases surgery. It's important to follow your vet’s instructions and be candid with your family veterinarian.
Promptly finding the right treatment plan for your sick dog can help get rid of symptoms faster. In many cases, such as vomiting due to the consumption of a toxic substance, early treatment could save your dog’s life. Here is a list of common household dangers and toxins for dogs.
How to Help Your Sick Dog
BluePearl has emergency pet hospitals open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are available if your pet has an emergency when your family veterinarian’s office is closed. We also have specialists available by appointment if your veterinarian feels that a referral is necessary.