Why is my dog vomiting?
Gastrointestinal upset (irritated stomach and inflamed intestines) in both humans and dogs alike can often lead to vomiting.
As most dog owners know, witnessing a dog vomiting can be unpleasant and distressing. Despite this, it's important to also remember that this is your pet’s way of emptying their stomach of indigestible material to prevent it from remaining in their system.
What is making my dog vomit?
Vomiting in dogs is not uncommon and can be caused by several different things. Occasionally, even healthy dogs will fall ill for no apparent reason and recover quickly.
It’s possible that your pet could have eaten too quickly, munched on too much grass, or eaten something their stomach disagreed with. This type of vomiting may be a one-time occurrence and if not accompanied by any other symptoms, you may have nothing to worry about.
More severe cases of acute (sudden or severe) vomiting may be a disease, disorder or health complication, such as:
- Ingestion of poisons, toxins, or inappropriate food
- Negative reaction to medication
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Change in diet
When should I be concerned about my dog vomiting?
Vomiting may be cause for some concern and constitute a serious veterinary emergency if you see any of these signs:
- Vomiting a lot at once
- Vomiting with nothing coming up (dry-heaving)
- Vomiting blood
- Chronic (frequent or long-term) vomiting
- Continuous vomiting
- Vomiting along with other symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, fever, anemia, etc.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as food, objects, children’s toy, etc.)
If you find your dog has been vomiting frequently or it has become a long-term or chronic issue, this is cause for concern. This is especially true if you’ve noticed additional symptoms including abdominal pain, depression, dehydration, blood, poor appetite, fever, weakness, weight loss or other unusual changes.
These can be caused by:
- Liver or kidney failure
- Uterine infection
- Intestinal obstruction
As your pet's loving caretaker, it’s always best to prioritize safety and caution when it comes to your dog’s health. The best way to learn whether your dog’s vomiting is normal or not is to contact your vet.
What if my dog won’t stop vomiting?
When you take your dog in to be examined, your vet will need your help to find the cause of the vomiting based on his or her medical history and recent activities. For example, if your dog has been curiously exploring the kids’ rooms or you’ve caught him sniffing the refrigerator, it’s possible he could have gotten into something he shouldn’t have.
You spend every day with your dog, so you will likely be your vet’s best source of information when it comes to diagnosing the issue. Your vet can then test, diagnose and treat the condition.
Note: Inducing Vomiting in Dogs
There have probably been countless worried dog owners who have Googled "how to induce vomiting in dogs", and for good reason: toxins cause gastrointestinal upset, but do serious damage when they are absorbed into the bloodstream as they get into the tissues. The goal is to eliminate the toxin from the body before it’s absorbed, and if vomiting occurs before the intestines absorb the toxin, toxicity can be prevented.
However, dog owners should know that inducing vomiting at home is not advised except under extreme circumstances. If inducing vomiting in your dog is absolutely necessary at home, it should always be done under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Before taking matters into your own hands, call your primary veterinarian or a veterinary poison control center for advice.
Whether vomiting should be induced at home depends on what and how much your dog has consumed, and how much time has passed. There's a chance that the substance or amount consumed wasn't toxic, so inducing vomiting wouldn't be necessary.
Though vomiting can safely bring most toxins up, a few will cause more damage by passing through the esophagus a second time by moving through the GI tract. These include bleach, cleaning products and other caustic chemicals and petroleum-based products.
In addition, if 3% hydrogen peroxide (the only safe home substance that can be used to induce vomiting in dogs) is incorrectly administered, it can enter the lungs and cause significant problems such as pneumonia.
Keep in mind that if your dog has a pre-existing health condition or there are other symptoms, inducing vomiting at home can result in health risks. If it's needed, having a qualified veterinarian induce vomiting in-clinic is preferable.
When Not to Induce Vomiting
Vomiting should never be induced in a dog that is:
- Having a seizure or recently had a seizure
- Unresponsive or unconscious
- Already vomiting
Additionally, hydrogen peroxide should not be used to induce vomiting in cats, as it is too harsh to kitties' stomachs and can cause issues with the esophagus.
How do veterinarians induce vomiting?
At McAllen, we carefully examine your pet to determine if inducing vomiting is safe. If it's determined that this action should be taken, special medication with minimal side effects is used (as opposed to hydrogen peroxide or other home remedies). If your dog does experience any side effects, we are equipped to administer proper care and medication.
What should I do if I think my dog ingested a toxin?
Immediately getting in touch with your veterinarian or Poison Control is the best thing you can do after your pet ingests a toxin. This way, our vets can immediately provide advice about whether you should bring your pet in, or if they think you can or should induce vomiting at home.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.