Vomiting in Dogs is a common canine health concern. While a dog throwing up food or some other substance is most often suffering from a minor stomach upset caused by the dog eating grass, trash or inappropriate food, also called Pica, vomiting can also be caused by a more serious problem. This is why it is important for every dog owner to understand why dogs vomit and when dog vomiting constitutes an emergency.
What Causes a Dog to Vomit
A dog vomits when its brain induces nausea and retching due to input from the bloodstream or nervous system. This results in the active expulsion of the stomach contents. This process should not be confused with regurgitation, the passive expulsion of the contents of the esophagus. While both processes involve material coming out of the mouth, vomiting is a much more violent event. Unlike regurgitation, it is usually associated with retching and abdominal contractions.
Throwing up has many potential causes. While it is often the result of a stomach problem, it can also occur due to a problem in another part of the digestive system, an endocrine disease, kidney or liver problems, an infectious disease, a tumor, such as bone, brain, mouth tumor, or another type of cancer, pancreatitis, allergies (food, skin, flea) or some other medical problem.
Dog Vomiting Foam or Yellow Liquid
When a dog has not eaten for several hours or has vomited multiple times, its stomach will be empty. If a dog vomits on an empty stomach, the vomit appears as clear or yellow liquid or foam. Causes of this type of vomiting vary widely.
While dogs can vomit foam for a number of reasons, owners should be aware that one serious reason for dogs to vomit white foam is gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome, commonly called bloat. This life-threatening surgical emergency is most common in deep-chested dogs and often occurs after exercise. Other symptoms of bloat include unproductive retching, abdominal pain, restlessness, salivation and enlarged abdomen. If you suspect bloat in your dog, you need to get your pet to an emergency veterinary hospital immediately.
Dog Vomiting Blood
In vomit, blood can appear bright red, clotted or dark with the texture and color of used coffee grounds. Vomit containing any type of blood is an indication of a potentially serious problem. Possible causes of vomiting blood include stomach or small intestinal ulcers, inflammation, tumors, trauma, toxin ingestion, liver failure, heartworm disease and infectious disease.
Treatment for a Dog Throwing Up
Initial treatment for vomiting is aimed at stopping the problem and maintaining hydration. In cases of puppy vomiting or vomiting in aged or infirm animals, a veterinarian should be consulted immediately. Vomiting can quickly become a life-threatening problem in these pets.
In the case of a healthy adult dog with no symptoms other than vomiting, the owner can withdraw food and water for 12 to 24 hours. During this time, the dog can have ice chips to lick. Water and bland food can be gradually reintroduced over the course of the next few days as long as the dog does not start throwing up again. If the dog is not improving after 24 to 48 hours have passed or has other symptoms, the animal needs veterinary care.
In a veterinary clinic, a dog throwing up is first stabilized, and antiemetics are often used to provide fast relief. After the animal is stabilized, the treating veterinarian needs to run diagnostic tests to try to discover the cause of the vomiting. Once the cause is known, further treatment can be aimed at addressing the source of the problem.