If you own a dog, you know that every vomiting episode is not cause for concern. However, some conditions that cause your dog to vomit require immediate veterinary attention. Our team at Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital wants to help you determine if your dog is in jeopardy when they vomit.
Did my dog vomit or regurgitate?
Vomiting is a forceful ejection of contents from the stomach and upper intestine by vigorous abdominal muscle contractions, whereas regurgitation is ejection of contents from the esophagus. Typically, your dog will drool and retch before vomiting, and the contents will be digested material. No active movement from the abdominal muscles occurs before regurgitation, which is mostly a passive process. Your dog will lower their head and spit out the food, whose contents will be undigested material, and may retain the columnar shape of the esophagus. Esophageal abnormalities that could cause regurgitation include ulcers, inflammation, foreign bodies, tumors, and megaesophagus, a condition in which the esophagus loses tone and dilates.
When should I be concerned if my dog vomits?
Occasionally, dogs will vomit for no apparent reason, and then continue about their day as if nothing happened. As long as they continue to eat and defecate normally, these bouts are not cause for concern. Concerning conditions when your dog vomits include:
- Continuous vomiting
- Chronic vomiting
- Vomiting blood
- Vomiting in conjunction with other signs, such as fever, lethargy, diarrhea, or seizures
- Retching and drooling that does not produce vomit
- Suspected foreign body ingestion
When in doubt, always consult our veterinary professionals at Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital, to ensure your dog gets the appropriate care.
What conditions cause my dog to vomit?
Your dog can vomit for numerous reasons. Some are gastrointestinal tract problems, while others are non-gastric related. Complications that can cause your dog to vomit include:
- Dietary change — Any change in your dog’s diet can result in gastrointestinal upset, causing vomiting and diarrhea, but these incidents should resolve themselves when your dog returns to their regular food.
- Toxin or poison ingestion — Many common household products are toxic to your dog, and some familiar foods are also dangerous for them. If your dog ingests a toxin or poison, immediately contact our team at Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital or Animal Poison Control.
- Bloat — Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a serious, sometimes fatal, condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas and twists. Signs include retching, salivation, restlessness, and an enlarged abdomen.
- Intestinal obstruction — Dogs are notorious for eating inappropriate objects, such as socks, bones, or rocks, that can cause blockage in the stomach or intestine, and deterioration to parts of the bowel. Signs include decreased appetite, repetitive vomiting, diarrhea, and an enlarged abdomen.
- Heatstroke — Normal temperature for dogs is 101 to 102.5 degrees. When their temperature gets above 105, they are affected by heatstroke, whose signs include excessive panting and drooling, lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting. Heatstroke is a veterinary emergency for your dog.
- Parvovirus — Puppies under the age of 6 months are at highest risk from this deadly viral infection. Parvo is spread through contact with an infected dog’s feces or contaminated objects, and signs include fever, lethargy, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Affected dogs need prompt veterinary attention.
- Intestinal parasites — Parasites, such as roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworms, are transmitted when your dog contacts contaminated soil, water, feces, or food. Intestinal parasites can cause malnutrition, weight loss, anemia, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Pancreatitis — Inflammation of the pancreas is an extremely serious and painful condition for your dog, and causes signs including fever, lethargy, hunched back, repeated vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Kidney failure — Your dog’s kidneys normally function to filter out waste materials, help control blood pressure, and increase red blood cell production, and kidney failure is a life-threatening condition for your dog. In older dogs, dental disease is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease. Signs include excessive drinking and urinating, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Liver failure — Your dog’s liver normally functions to metabolize nutrients, store essential vitamins and minerals, produce digestive enzymes, break down toxins, and eliminate waste products, and liver failure causes your dog significant illness. Signs include decreased appetite, lethargy, abdominal swelling, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How is vomiting diagnosed and treated in dogs?
If your dog is vomiting, our veterinary professionals at Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital will ask you for a detailed history about any recent dietary changes, their access to poisons or foreign bodies, their exposure to other dogs affected by illness, and their other signs. We will perform a thorough physical exam, and possibly other diagnostics, such as bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays, endoscopic exams, and ultrasound.
Vomiting can result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and acid-base disorders, so your dog will likely need intravenous fluid therapy. Anti-nausea medications may be administered to help your dog stop vomiting. An overall treatment regimen will be devised based on your dog’s specific diagnosis.
If your dog is vomiting, our experienced team at Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital will carefully determine the cause of your dog’s suffering. Do not hesitate to contact our Fear Free team about any continued vomiting or other concerns you have for your pet.