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What is Persistent Vomiting?

There are two types of vomiting: regurgitation and vomiting. When your dog regurgitates, he is just expelling the food (or other substance) from the esophagus before it gets to the stomach. With regurgitation, there are no contractions of the stomach muscles because the food has not reached the stomach. Vomiting is forcibly expelling the contents of the stomach with contractions of the stomach muscles. Both of these may happen right after eating or several hours later, depending on the cause. You should immediately call your veterinarian if you see blood in the vomit, bloating or a swollen abdomen, if you think your dog may have eaten something toxic or spoiled, or if he has fever, diarrhea, or pale gums.

While vomiting in dogs occasionally is common, if your dog continues to vomit, or has other symptoms including fever, diarrhea, lethargy, or weight loss, something serious may be wrong. In fact, if your dog has thrown up more than once in a 24-hour period you need to be aware of his other behaviors and symptoms. When your dog vomits, he is losing nutrients and calories that he needs to grow and be healthy. Therefore, if your dog has vomited more than once in a 24-hour period, you should take him to see a veterinary care provider immediately because it can quickly become a life-threatening illness.

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Symptoms of Persistent Vomiting in Dogs

Symptoms may vary depending on the reason for the vomiting, age and health of the dog. Some of the most common signs include:

  • Coughing up food or other partially digested substances
  • Gagging or heaving
  • Throwing up more than once in 24 hours
  • Throwing up bile (yellow fluids)
  • Throwing up white or clear foam
  • Throwing up bloody substances
  • Regurgitating food after eating, or water after drinking
  • Vomiting that lasts more than one day
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Increased body temperature

Types

  • Regurgitating - Throwing up food from the digestive tract before it gets to the stomach)
  • Vomiting – Throwing up contents of the stomach

Causes of Persistent Vomiting in Dogs

There are many causes of persistent vomiting in dogs. This is a list of the most commonly reported:

  • Changes in diet
  • Allergy to food
  • Toxins such as medications, household products, and poisonous plants
  • Eating spoiled or unprepared food such as beef, pork, or chicken (often from the trash can)
  • Ingestion of bone or other indigestible materials
  • Parasitic infestation
  • Infection (bacterial or viral)
  • Gastrointestinal blockage
  • Ulcers
  • Diabetes
  • Peritonitis
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Gastric dilation (bloat)
  • Heart attack
  • Parasitic infestation, infections, ulcers, diabetes, and peritonitis

Diagnosis of Persistent Vomiting in Dogs

Your veterinarian will need to do a comprehensive physical examination including vital signs, auscultation, and palpation. Be prepared to give the veterinarian your dog’s medical history and mention any medications you have given him. In addition, the veterinarian will try to get a sample of vomitus (bring some if you can) to test in the laboratory. If you cannot get any, let the veterinarian know the color and consistency of the vomit. You should also tell the veterinarian any other symptoms you have noticed, if any. Next, laboratory tests will be done to check your dog’s complete blood count, blood cultures, metabolic panel, urinalysis, and fecal examination. An endoscopy may be done next to check for abnormalities in the digestive tract and stomach. Radiography will be done next, which includes an abdominal x-ray, ultrasound, CT scans, and maybe an MRI if needed.

Treatment of Persistent Vomiting in Dogs

Treatment for persistent vomiting depends on the cause.

Changes in diet/Allergy to food

This can be treated by changing back to the old food that you were already using. However, if you suspect your dog has a food allergy, the veterinarian will most likely prescribe a hypoallergenic food to feed your dog.

Toxin Ingestion

If your dog has eaten toxins, the veterinarian may hospitalize your dog for fluid therapy and medications, depending on the toxin your dog ingested.   

Ingesting A Bone or Another Foreign Object

Ingesting a bone or other foreign object may require surgery if it is a large or sharp object that may cause obstruction or damage to the intestines.

Parasitic Infestation, Infections, Ulcers, Diabetes, and Peritonitis

These illnesses all require certain medications and possible surgical procedures. The veterinarian will advise as to the best treatment for your dog, taking into account your pet’s current health status and whether there are concurrent illnesses present.

Kidney or Liver Failure, Gastric Dilation (Bloat), and Heart Attack

These are all serious and life-threatening situations that may require surgery immediately. Also, there are numerous medications and surgical procedures that can be utilized to help your dog through the issue.

Recovery of Persistent Vomiting in Dogs

For a food allergy or change in diet, a simple change in food may be all your dog needs. That being said, most of the other conditions involved in persistent vomiting can be very serious and have to be carefully cared for by the veterinarian and managed at home by you. Regular veterinarian visits are important to the success of your dog’s recovery so be sure to see your veterinary care provider at least once per year.