The sound of your dog throwing up anywhere in your home will wake you up from a dead sleep. There’s something about being a dog owner that makes us specifically attuned to that sound, whether that’s our unique, special connection with them or something even more deeply ingrained.
It’s similar to having kids, because our dogs are just as much a part of our hearts and our families. If you’ve been dealing with your dog throwing up, we want to help!
The WINPRO Pet team cares about the health, safety, and happiness of your dog, so we wanted to make sure that you know when you should be concerned about it and what you can do.
Why Does Vomiting Happen?
It’s easy to take bodily functions for granted, like breathing or the heart beating. They just happen, right? While we may not have a lot of control over when vomiting happens to our dog (or ourselves), we do know why (or at least how) it happens.
The first thing to know is that not everything you might think is vomiting really “counts.” Dogs can also do something known as regurgitation, where they seem to just suddenly be standing there in front of the contents of their stomachs. This is a passive motion, which doesn’t come with all the heaving that accompanies vomiting. If you’re seeing large piles of undigested food, it’s probably the result of regurgitation.
Vomiting, on the other hand, is what you can hear. When you can hear the sounds of your dog throwing up, it’s actually the noise of their upper small intestines and stomach forcefully ejecting anything that may be in it.
The Two Types Of Vomiting
Dogs can deal with two different types of vomiting, and knowing which one can be a major key to figuring out why it’s happening.
Acute vomiting is not well named, because there really is nothing cute about it! Acute vomiting is any time that your dog is throwing up for a short period of time (usually less than three to four days total). However, just because it hasn’t been happening long doesn’t mean it can’t be dangerous.
Chronic vomiting, on the other hand, is long-term vomiting. Usually, this means that your dog has been throwing up at least once or twice a day over the course of more than just a few days. It usually is also accompanied by belly pain, weakness, and weight loss, and should always be taken seriously. Pay special attention to the times that your dog is vomiting, to see if you can figure out a pattern.
When Your Dog Throwing Up Is Concerning
Any time that your dog throws up makes you worry, and that’s ok! It’s a part of being a loving pet owner. But knowing when you really do need to be worried can also help you decide between scheduling a regular vet appointment to discuss it or taking a trip to the emergency vet. It’s important to know that you should also always listen to your instincts, too.
Even if something doesn’t seem like it should be that worrying, but you find yourself stressing out about it, there’s nothing wrong with making an appointment. At the very least it will ease your concerns, and even potentially catch a problem before it’s had a chance to get worse.
It really comes down to a few different factors:
- Is your dog acting sick? - Besides your dog throwing up, his or her attitude is an important clue to whether or not you should be concerned. A dog that vomits but returns to their regular enthusiasm and activity level is far less worrying than a dog who vomits and then acts uninterested or sluggish. Paying attention to your dog’s behavior is just as important.
- How often is your dog throwing up? - If your dog pukes once and is acting normal, you can almost always be confident that it’s not that big of a deal. However, if the vomiting continues (either multiple times or for multiple days), your dog is also at risk of dehydration and should be evaluated.
- How old is your dog? - Your dog’s age also is important to figuring out how concerning their vomiting may be. Puppies and seniors are especially at risk, especially if they are not fully vaccinated against parvo.
- Does your dog have a temp? - If you have a thermometer that you’re ok with using strictly for your pup, take their temperature. Yes, you have to do this rectally (just like with babies). Dogs will normally run between 100 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s much higher or much lower than that, an emergency visit is likely in your future.
- Is your dog known for eating things? - If you have a dog that loves to eat socks, hygiene products, etc, vomiting is always a concerning symptom. Blockages can cause your dog to throw up, so make sure to bring your dog in as soon as you notice it, especially if you know for sure your dog has gotten into something.
- What does your dog’s vomit look like? - One final factor to take into consideration is what your dog's vomit actually looks like. As we touched on briefly, vomiting is usually digested food. But what’s mixed in with that food is also important. If you notice any signs of digested blood, which would appear as dark, coffee grounds-like material, call your vet immediately.
What Can You Do About Your Dog Throwing Up?
If your dog has been throwing up, what the heck can you do about it? The first step is always to contact your dog’s veterinarian to run it by them. They are your best research when it comes to figuring out what’s going on, and they’ll be the ones to help treat it if it requires that level of care.
There are many different ways that they can evaluate your dog, including blood tests, checking for parasites, x-rays, ultrasounds, and even surgery if there is an obstruction or other cause. From there, it really comes down to what is causing the vomiting. Typical options to treat vomiting in dogs include medications, injectables, and a bland diet (just like we do when our stomachs hurt!).
Make sure that you’re taking care of your dog’s gut health during the rest of the time they’re not vomiting, too. Keeping their gut strong and healthy can also help them be able to fight off some of the potential triggers of vomiting.
Vomiting may also be the result of food allergies, so feeding them a diet that is meant for their specific needs is essential to their overall health and wellness. It’s this holistic approach that is the most beneficial for dogs, so that you’re not working to catch up when they start to not feel good.
When you’re dealing with your dog throwing up, it can be hard to decide whether it was just a fluke or if it’s the result of a bigger, more concerning issue.
Recognizing the signs that you should contact your veterinarian can help you get an early jump on treatment, and increase the likelihood of a better prognosis! Anything new that’s going on with your dog should be taken seriously.
From all of us here at WINPRO Pet to all of you (and your pets), we wish you years of happiness and good health!
Vomiting in Dogs - Dog Owners | Merck Veterinary Manual (merckvetmanual.com)
Dog Vomiting: When Should You Go to the Vet? | AKC (akc.org)
Warning Signs of Dehydration in Dogs | American Kennel Club (akc.org)