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Vomiting in Dogs: Causes & Treatment

Posted Jun 15th, 2023

Vomiting in Dogs: Causes & Treatment

Vomiting in dogs is a common symptom of gastrointestinal upset. There are a number of potential causes for this condition. In this post, our Bellevue vets share what you should know, and what to do. 

Why is my dog vomiting?

Vomiting is a typical indication of stomach irritation and inflammation in dogs, also known as gastrointestinal upset.

Most dog owners are familiar with the discomfort of witnessing their pet vomit, which can be distressing. However, it's important to remember that vomiting is your pet's natural way of expelling undigested substances from their stomach to prevent them from lingering or affecting other parts 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
  • Pancreatitis
  • Change in diet
  • Bloat

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.)
  • Seizures

Chronic Vomiting

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:

  • Cancer
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Uterine infection
  • Constipation
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Colitis

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

It's not uncommon for concerned pet owners to search for information on how to induce vomiting in dogs. When toxins are ingested, they can cause gastrointestinal distress and potentially serious harm if they are absorbed into the bloodstream and tissues. Decontamination aims to remove the toxin from the body before absorption occurs, and inducing vomiting can prevent toxicity if done early enough.

However, it's important for dog owners to understand that inducing vomiting at home is generally not recommended, except in extreme cases and under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. It is advisable to contact your primary veterinarian or a veterinary poison control center for advice before attempting any actions.

The decision to induce vomiting depends on several factors, such as the type and quantity of the ingested substance, as well as the time that has passed since ingestion. There is a possibility that the substance or amount consumed may not be toxic, rendering the need for inducing vomiting unnecessary.

While vomiting can effectively eliminate most toxins, certain substances like bleach, caustic chemicals, and petroleum-based products can cause additional damage if they pass through the esophagus for a second time during the gastrointestinal passage.

It's worth noting that if 3% hydrogen peroxide (the only safe substance for at-home induction of vomiting) is administered incorrectly, it can enter the lungs and lead to complications like pneumonia.

Furthermore, if your dog has an underlying health condition or is displaying other symptoms, there may be additional health risks associated with inducing vomiting at home. In such cases, it is preferable to have a qualified veterinarian induce vomiting in a clinical setting.

When Not to Induce Vomiting

Vomiting should never be induced in a dog that is:

  • Having a seizure or recently had a seizure
  • Lethargic
  • 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?

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 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. 

Is your dog experiencing vomiting episodes? Contact your vet as soon as possible. We provide preventive and emergency veterinary care for cats and dogs in Bellevue and the greater area.

New Patients Welcome

Sawtooth Animal Center Bellevue is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Bellevue companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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