Nausea in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 06/02/2017Updated: 11/16/2021
Nausea in Dogs

What is Nausea?

Your normally energetic dog refuses to eat and is lethargic. Maybe you catch her eating grass while outside. Perhaps you observe your dog gagging and vomiting. Many things can cause nausea in dogs; not all are serious, but recurrent vomiting should be treated by a veterinarian. Some things that can cause your dog to experience nausea include:

  • Gastroenteritis 
  • Motion sickness
  • Parvovirus
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Exposure to toxins

Why Nausea Occurs in Dogs


Often nausea and vomiting can be attributed simple issues that are not serious, such as eating pieces of a chewed toy or eating table food when your dog is not used to it. However, vomiting can also be indicative of more serious issues. A virus or parasites such as roundworms can cause your pup to experience nausea and vomiting. While these issues do need to be evaluated by your vet, they can be easily treated. However, nausea and vomiting can also be associated with more serious issues such as cancer or kidney failure. All of these issues, whether simply solved or more dire in nature, fall under the category of gastroenteritis. If you withhold food for a short period of time and the nausea and vomiting is still present, see your vet. Dogs of any age or breed may experience gastroenteritis. 

Motion sickness

Many dogs love to ride in the car, but, like humans, dogs can experience motion sickness too. Anti-nausea medication and limiting your dog’s food and water before a car ride can help to eliminate motion sickness. 

It should also be mentioned at this point that stress can also cause nausea associated with riding in the car. If your dog only rides with you when he is going to the vet, he may associate car rides with a negative situation. If this is the situation, you will need to practice some conditioning on your dog. Add a few trips that don’t involve going to the vet. Give him a treat when loading in the car and when you return home. If your dog’s motion sickness is associated with stress, this should make significant strides in helping your dog stop vomiting on car rides. Dogs of any age or breed can experience motion sickness. 


Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that affects puppies younger than four months and dogs that have never been vaccinated. The virus can be spread from dog-to-dog contact, in communal water bowls, in kennels, in collars and leashes, and can even be present on the hands and clothing of anyone handling different dogs. While more cases are reported during warmer months, the virus can lay dormant throughout cooler months as well. It is imperative that you vaccinate your dog on time and limit his contact with strange dogs. Parvo (the nickname for parvovirus) can be fatal if not treated in time; in fact, most parvo deaths occur within 72 hours. Parvo is characterized by persistent vomiting and bloody diarrhea. See your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has parvo. All breeds are susceptible to the parvovirus. 

Intestinal obstruction

Dogs will often chew and gnaw their toys (or other objects) and then swallow the pieces. At times, these pieces will become lodged in the digestive tract and cause nausea, vomiting and possibly diarrhea. In addition to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, you may notice lethargy in your dog as well as drooling, burping, and abdominal pain. Your dog may refuse to eat. If you suspect your dog has swallowed something and is unable to pass it, see your vet. Surgery may be required to remove the object. Dogs of any age or breed can experience intestinal obstruction.

Exposure to toxins

Although pet owners try to keep harmful objects away from their companions, curious dogs still sometimes manage to come in contact with toxic chemicals and plants. Blood or bone meal, often used in gardening, can poison your dog. Ponds that have algae in them are not a good source of drinking water, but sometimes dogs ingest water without our knowledge. Dogs may also accidentally ingest mushrooms. If you suspect your dog has eaten something poisonous, it is best to visit the vet. Any breed or age of dog is susceptible to ingesting something toxic.

What to do if your Dog is Nausea

A pet who has unsupervised access to the yard or who has free roam of nearby areas will likely get into a myriad of situations where the ingestion of unsuitable items takes place. Poisonous plants, hazardous substances and non-potable water are just three sources of nausea. Additionally, an obstruction can occur. If your dog is experiencing persistent nausea and vomiting, it is best to see your vet. If needed, he can perform laboratory tests to come to a diagnosis on a rule out basis. Dogs who experience consistent nausea may suffer secondary effects like weight loss or electrolyte imbalance; involving the veterinarian can avoid further problems.

Prevention of Nausea

Always keep fertilizer such as blood meal stored in a lidded container out of the reach of your pet. When outdoors with your pet, be sure to observe anything you see him eat and drink. Steer away from cheaper dog toys that may break down after just a little vigorous chewing. Plastic toys and rawhide chews can be easily torn into smaller bits and swallowed. Be sure to keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date, and keep him away from strange dogs if at all possible. If you believe your dog is experiencing motion sickness, limit food and water before riding, and try to seat him in the front seat if possible.

Cost of Nausea

Treating nausea in dogs can be an expensive treatment ranging from $50 to $1000. For example, the cost of parvo will be dependent upon the stage of the virus when you get to the vet. The exam, initial tests and possible IV fluids can start at $50 and total up to $500. Medications to treat parvo can range from $60 to $120, and 24 hour care can cost up to $175. Multiple days in vet care can multiply this cost.

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