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Nothing gets dog parents moving like the sound of their pet retching in the next room. While it’s not unusual for dogs to throw up, it can be stressful if pet parents don’t know what’s going on when their dog is vomiting.
Dog nausea isn’t always a big cause for concern. But in some cases, it can be a sign of a serious problem that needs immediate professional care.
Before dog parents can provide the right care for their dogs, they need to know if they’re actually vomiting. When a dog is excited, stressed—or has eaten too much too fast—it’s common for them to regurgitate undigested food. This mild ejection usually comes with no warning signs like heaving.
When a dog is vomiting, it’s a more active process. It causes a dog’s body to tense and experience abdominal contractions as they retch—generally resulting in expelling a combination of partially digested food and some liquid. This could be in response to:
A recent, sudden change to their diet or new medication
Consuming something they shouldn’t have—like garbage, fatty foods, toys, or other foreign objects
Excessive excitement, stress, or motion sickness
However, a dog’s vomiting could signal an underlying health issue that requires further treatment, like:
Accidental ingestion of a poisonous substance
A food intolerance or food allergy
Stomach ulcers, diabetes, or cancer
Parasites or viral infections
When a dog is sick, inspecting their vomit and behavior can help point to a cause—and the severity of their condition. Contact their primary vet immediately if any of the following are noticed:
Other symptoms like loss of appetite, changes to urination habits, diarrhea, or lethargy
Pale or white-colored gums
Seizing, yelping, ongoing retching without vomiting, or other unusual behaviors
Vomit that is red, pink, or contains worms
Consider the dog’s age and vaccination history, as well. If the dog is a younger, unvaccinated puppy that is not eating, has diarrhea, or decreased energy, make sure to seek professional care right away.
In most cases, vets recommend restricting food for 12 hours to help a dog recover from an upset stomach. After this fasting period, ease in the bland diet: 50% white rice or sweet potato and 50% low-fat protein like chicken breast or ground turkey. Start by feeding the dog half of their normal portion and if they don’t get sick within an hour, give them the remaining food.
Over the next ten days, slowly reintroduce their normal dog food to taper off the bland diet. Visit their primary vet if the dog is still getting sick during this transition.
Depending on the dog’s condition, a vet may consider a dog nausea medicine or over-the-counter aid. Supplements for dogs like probiotics can also help rebalance a dog’s digestive health that gets disrupted when they vomit.
Just make sure that pet medications or dog supplements are only administered with professional guidance. In some cases, medications can worsen the situation or interact with other prescriptions.
Fuzzy’s veterinary support team is available for members via 24/7 Live Vet Chat to field any questions about a dog’s vomiting or digestive health needs—and the best course of action—so pet parents can have better peace of mind and confidence in caring for their health needs.