Book First Walk Free!
The Root of the Behavior
When puppies transition from a diet of mother's milk to solid food, there is a period during which they need assistance breaking down whole foods into a mushier substance they can then lap or slurp. Neither their mouths or their digestive systems are yet ready for solids. This is where regurgitation comes into play. Breeders will often assist in this process by providing a "mush" of sorts for the puppies to eat. This mush is often comprised of well-soaked then pureed dog food enriched with warmed goat's milk. It is the breeder's attempt to do as their mother would do for them. However, it is estimated that as many as 60 percent of mother dogs remain involved in this process through eating solid foods then regurgitating them for the benefit of their young. This is an instinctual behavior in the mother dog instilled from years of living in the wild. Without the benefit of human aid to feed their puppies, regurgitation was necessary to ensure the survival of the litter.
Encouraging the Behavior
However, dog vomiting can be a sign of serious illness or injury. Should your dog engage in vomiting with any amount of frequency, it is important to take him to the vet for a thorough examination to rule out any potential health problems. If your dog frequently vomits after meals, eating too quickly might be the source of the problem. Dogs who swallow food without taking the time to chew often experience gastrointestinal distress and need to vomit the food to find relief. If this is an issue for your dog, you could invest in a bowl designed for slow feeding or feed your dog's meal from a treat ball. Making use of either of these tools turns meal time into a bit of a game and also forces your dog to "work" for his food. While the objective is never to make your dog earn what he eats, slowing down his access to his food through a treat ball or slow feeder encourages him to take the time to chew since he is only accessing a piece or two at a time.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Should you detect blood in your dog's vomit or weight loss coupled with a lack of energy, it's time to visit your veterinarian. It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your pet. Of course, if your dog's vomiting becomes a consistent habit or a daily occurrence, it is likely that there is something more serious going on with your dog, and veterinary intervention is necessary. Be certain to note any changes you have noticed in your dog in order to provide your veterinarian with the most accurate information. Every little bit of input helps to lead to a proper diagnosis and plan for treatment.