Vomiting in dogs is a common symptom of gastrointestinal upset. There are a number of potential causes for this condition. In this post, our Fort Collins vets share what you should know, and what to do.
Why is my dog vomiting?
Vomiting is a common sign of an irritated stomach and inflamed intestines, or gastrointestinal upset.
As almost every dog owner knows, vomiting in dogs is an unpleasant thing to witness and can be distressing. But, also remember that this is your pet’s way of emptying their stomach of indigestible material to prevent it from remaining in their system, or from reaching other areas of their body.
What is causing my dog’s vomiting?
Several things can cause a dog to vomit, which is not that uncommon. Sometimes, even healthy dogs will fall ill for no apparent reason and recover quickly.
It’s possible your pup could have eaten too quickly, dined on too much grass or ate something his stomach disagreed with. This type of vomiting may be a one-time occurrence and not be accompanied by any other symptoms. So, you may have nothing to worry about.
Potential causes of acute vomiting (sudden or severe) may be a disease, disorder or health complication including:
- Ingestion of poisons, toxins or food (garbage, chocolate, anti-freeze)
- Heat stroke
- Reaction to medication
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Change in diet
When is vomiting in dogs cause for concern?
Vomiting may be cause for some concern and constitute a serious veterinary emergency if you see any of these signs:
- Vomiting a lot at one time
- Vomiting with nothing coming up
- Vomiting blood
- Chronic vomiting
- Continuous vomiting
- Vomiting in conjunction 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, especially if you’ve noticed symptoms including abdominal pain, depression, dehydration, blood, poor appetite, fever, weakness, weight loss or other unusual behaviors.
These can be caused by:
- Liver or kidney failure
- Uterine infection
- Intestinal obstruction
As a cautious pooch parent, 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 should I do if my dog won’t stop vomiting?
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.
A Note on Inducing Vomiting in Dogs
Many a panicked owner has likely Googled "how to induce vomiting in dogs". Toxins cause gastrointestinal upset, but do serious damage when they are absorbed into the bloodstream as they get into the tissues. With decontamination, the goal is to eliminate the toxin from the body before it’s absorbed. 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. In addition, this should always be done under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Before taking this action, 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.
Also, 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.
In addition, if your dog has a pre-existing health condition or there are other symptoms, this 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 irritating to kitties' stomachs and can cause issues with the esophagus.
What do veterinarians do to induce vomiting?
At Animal Hospital of Clemmons, 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). If your dog does experience any side effects, we are equipped to administer proper care and medication.
What should I do if I suspect my dog has ingested a toxin?
Immediately contact your veterinarian or Poison Control is the best thing you can do after your pet ingests a toxin. This way, our Clemmons 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.