What is Vomiting?
The best way to determine the severity of your situation is by measuring the frequency and intensity of the vomiting and if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, or pale gums. Chronic vomiting can be an indicator of a serious underlying medical issue and is best resolved by an appointment with your veterinarian. Sudden and severe vomiting, especially if it includes diarrhea, particularly bloody, may indicate an acute condition and a trip to the emergency veterinarian is best.
Dogs can vomit for a variety of reasons. While it can be an indicator that something is wrong with your pet, it is often not a cause for immediate alarm. Vomiting (the ejection of stomach contents) should not be confused with regurgitation (which is when your dog brings back up the contents of the esophagus).
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Symptoms of Vomiting in Dogs
- Lying in prayer position
- Increased thirst
- Eating of grass or houseplants
- Lip licking
- Discoloration of gums
- Painful abdomen
Dog vomit can be occasional, acute, or chronic. If your dog vomits once it generally does not mean a veterinarian visit is required.
A signs that your dog’s vomiting is more serious and need immediate attention is if it is projectile and accompanies similar diarrhea. This can be an indicator of an intestinal blockage. Dogs can sometimes right a blockage themselves but you will likely want to discuss the option with your veterinarian and have him there for supportive care. Vomiting coupled with diarrhea (especially bloody) can also be an indicator of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Again supportive care, particularly intravenous fluids, is often needed.
If your dog’s abdomen appears swollen, he is laying in prayer position and is possibly whining he could have bloat. Often dogs with bloat will vomit some but also have several unsuccessful attempts. This is also a serious acute condition requiring an emergency veterinarian visit. Bloat sometimes requires surgery and can be fatal.
Routinely vomiting after meals can be indicative of a food allergy, eating too fast or too much. While this type of vomiting is not life threatening it is still important to determine the underlying cause.
Causes of Vomiting in Dogs
There are many stomach disorders and common occurrences that can cause vomiting in dogs. These include but are not limited to:
- Car sickness
- Canine parvovirus
- Heat stroke
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
Diagnosis of Vomiting in Dogs
Your veterinarian will gather information from you regarding any possible ingestion of foreign or toxic substances or any food changes. He will do a complete physical exam and possibly diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the vomit. Sometimes a fecal test is needed to determine the presence of parasites. In the case of an obstruction, your veterinarian may perform an x-ray to determine the location. Often he will take your dog’s temperature and weight. Details are key to any diagnosis. Your veterinarian will want to how often the vomiting is occurring and what the color and consistency is. Is your dog exhibiting other signs of illness? If so this is important information to share with your veterinarian. Any changes in behavior can be a sign of illness and are important to share as well.
Treatment of Vomiting in Dogs
How vomiting is treated will depend on the reason and severity of nausea. In many cases, food is withheld for twenty-four hours. Large amounts of water may be withheld but small frequent sips are usually encouraged to help prevent dehydration. In severe cases, the dog may require intravenous fluids. Often a homemade bland diet of boiled chicken and rice can help. If your dog has a chicken allergy a different protein may be substituted. Sometimes a green vegetable such as broccoli is added or a small amount of fiber from pure canned pumpkin. Your veterinarian may also have bland canned or dry food available.
Recovery of Vomiting in Dogs
Recovery from vomiting is usually easily obtained. Sometimes a diet change is necessary. Generally speaking a higher fiber, low-fat diet is more digestible, especially for elderly dogs. For dogs prone to Bloat some simple management procedures can reduce recurrence. Slow feeding bowls, limiting exercise before and after meals and providing smaller, more frequent meals can help. For dogs prone to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis keeping no sodium chicken broth can be handy. If given at the onset, the severity is often reduced. Practicing trades with dogs prone to ingesting foreign objects can reduce their risk. Even muzzle training can be employed for severe cases, as there are times when you can not control the environment. More serious conditions such as pancreatitis will require monitoring by your veterinarian.
Vomiting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My 2 year old lab had been vomiting 2x per day for 3 days (once late at night, once early afternoon). These episodes occurred 8-9 hours after feeding, and he vomited what was left in his stomach. He is eating and going to the bathroom fine. Has no other symptoms. On my vet's advice, I started him on 20mg of Pepcid once per day. He has been on it for a week, and has not vomited. However, I did not give it to him yesterday, and he vomited last night. How long should I keep him on Pepcid without being concerned for any side effects? Will this ever go away? his blood work all came back normal.
Pepcid is safe for use in dogs, however long term use may lead to diarrhoea, loss of appetite and lethargy. Also, Pepcid is managing a symptom not treating an underlying cause; may be try dietary changes or moving to a sensitive diet and then weaning off the Pepcid to see if that helps. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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