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Vomiting in Dogs: Causes & When to Worry

Vomiting in Dogs: Causes & When to Worry

Today, our vets in Denver explain why dogs vomit, what to do if your dog starts vomiting, and how to induce vomiting in dogs if necessary.

Why Dogs Vomit

Vomiting is a common occurrence in dogs, often signaling an upset stomach or irritated intestines.  This can happen for various reasons.

Most dog owners know that witnessing their furry friend vomit can be worrying. However, it's essential to understand that vomiting in dogs is a natural way for them to expel things that their stomach can't digest properly.   This process helps prevent harmful substances from staying in their system or spreading to other parts of their body. 

Causes of Vomiting in Dogs

Several things can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, and sometimes even a healthy pup will fall ill for no apparent reason and recover quickly.

It’s possible your pooch could have eaten too quickly, dined on too much grass, or eaten something their stomach simply doesn't agree with. This type of vomiting may be a one-time occurrence and not be accompanied by any other symptoms. So, vomiting in dogs isn't always a reason for concern.

That said, acute vomiting, which is sudden and severe, can  be a sign of underlying disease, disorders, or health issues, including:

  • Heatstroke
  • Ingestion of poisons, toxins, or food
  • Bloat
  • Reaction to medication
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Change in diet

When To Worry About Vomiting in Dogs

Vomiting may be cause for some concern and constitute a serious veterinary emergency if you see any of these signs:

  • Seizures
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea/vomit
  • Vomiting in conjunction with other symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, fever, anemia, etc.
  • Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as food, objects, children’s toy, etc.)
  • Vomiting a lot at one time
  • Vomiting with nothing coming up

Chronic Vomiting

If 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.

Long-term, recurrent vomiting can be caused by:

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

As a cautious pet owner, it’s always best to prioritize safety and caution when it comes to your pup’s health. The best way to learn whether your dog’s vomiting is normal or not is to contact your vet.

What To Do If Your Dog Won't Stop Vomiting

Your veterinarian will need your help to find the cause of the vomiting based on your pup's medical history and recent activities. You may be able to provide vital information that can help your vet diagnose the source of the problem and effectively treat it.

How to Induce Vomiting in Dogs

Owners who are worried because their dog may have eaten something harmful often search for ways to make their dog vomit. Toxins cause gastrointestinal upset but can also do serious damage when they are absorbed into the bloodstream as they get into the tissue. With decontamination, the goal is to eliminate the toxin from the body before it’s absorbed. If vomiting can be induced before the intestines absorb the toxin, toxicity may be prevented.

However, it's important to know that making your dog vomit at home is not recommended unless it's a very serious situation. Before taking this action, call your primary veterinarian or a veterinary poison control center for advice.

Whether you should make your dog vomit at home depends on what your dog ate, how much, and how much time has passed. Sometimes, what they ate might not be harmful, so vomiting might not be needed. 

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, 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.

If your dog has a pre-existing health condition or there are other symptoms, inducing vomiting may result in other health risks. If induced vomiting is necessary, 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
  • Lethargic
  • Unresponsive or unconscious
  • Already vomiting

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Ingested a Toxin

If your pet eats something harmful, it's important to act fast. Call your vet or poison control right away. They'll help you decide whether to bring your pet to the emergency vet or if you can safely make them vomit 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.

If your dog is vomiting a concerning amount, contact our Denver vets or seek emergency care right away.

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