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By Dr. Sarah Wallace
Whether you saw it happen or not, that chunky weirdness that looks like vomit on the floor is probably your dog’s vomit. Unless you have a cat. Then it’s your cat’s vomit.
There are many possible causes of dog vomiting, and it is usually a response to one of the following:
Eating something that does not treat the stomach or intestines kindly
Eating something that does not belong in the stomach
The result of an abnormal body process causing nausea
If you saw your pet eat a toy, string, something from the side of the road, or medication that isn’t for them, then that is probably what is causing your dogs misery. The culprit could also be from suddenly changing your pet’s diet, a prior chronic medical condition, or a new medication.
Vomiting is an active process. It starts with retching, followed by the barf payload. If you don’t see or hear an active retching component, then it is likely regurgitation, not vomiting. If you think that your pet is, in fact, vomiting, please continue reading for the causes of dog vomiting and how to help.
Let’s start with the worse case scenarios. If any of these causes of dog vomiting apply to you, bring your pet to the emergency room immediately:
If your young pup under 4 months old is vomiting and not eating, especially if they are not fully vaccinated
If your young pup under 6 months old is vomiting, combined with diarrhea or decreased energy, and is not fully vaccinated
If you have a large or giant breed of dog that is retching, but no vomit is coming out
If your dog’s vomit smells like sewage and they have a history of eating things, such as socks, rocks, tennis balls, dolls, or underwear (you may laugh, but this happens!)
If your dog’s vomiting is paired with yelping, uncoordinated movements, passing out, seizing, or any other odd behaviors
If your dog is vomiting after consuming illicit drugs or getting into household chemicals
If none of these causes of dog vomiting apply to your pet, you have a choice of bringing them to the ER to make sure they are ok, or trying to make them feel better at home. You know your pet the best, so follow your instinct if something doesn’t feel right.
When trying to help your pet at home, start by holding off on giving them food for the next 12 hours. During this time, make sure your dog has access to fresh water. After 12 hours has passed, transition them slowly back onto food with a bland diet. A bland diet consists of 50% white rice or sweet potato, and 50% low-fat protein sources such as boiled, skinless chicken breast, or lean ground turkey. You can also add in an over-the-counter probiotic for pets, but do not add any extra spices or flavoring.
After letting them fast for 12 hours, begin your pet’s bland diet by giving them the equivalent of half the regular portion they normally eat and then wait one hour. If your pet doesn’t vomit, then give them the other half portion. If your pet continues to not vomit, feed them the full portion of the bland diet at the next meal time. Slowly transition them back to normal food by mixing the bland diet with their regular dog food. Make sure to mix well so you don’t accidentally upset your dog’s stomach again! We recommend slowly transitioning your dog back to normal food according to this schedule:
Day 1: All bland diet Day 2 and 3: 80% bland diet and 20% regular dog food
Day 4 and 5: 60% bland diet and 40% regular dog food
Day 6 and 7: 40% bland diet and 60% regular dog food
Day 8 and 9: 20% bland diet and 40% regular dog food
Day 10: Regular dog food
If your dog is still vomiting during their bland diet trial, then something else might be going on. Bring your dog to the veterinary hospital to be checked out if they’re having trouble transitioning back to normal food. It’s always better to stay safe!
If you know your pet has consumed a household cleaner, garden fertilizer or other toxins, please call the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-855-764-7661. If you have any further questions or concerns about the causes of dog vomiting, connect with us.