Vomiting in dogs

Overview

There are many different problems that might cause your dog to vomit or feel sick.

Most vomiting dogs will improve within 24 hours but occasionally it can be a sign of something a lot more serious.

EMERGENCY

Contact your vet immediately if your dog is trying to vomit but isn't bringing anything up or if they have a swollen/bloated tummy. Both can be signs of a twisted stomach (GDV) which can be life threatening.

How to tell if your dog is feeling sick

If your dog is feeling sick they may show the following symptoms:

  • Turning their head away from food (if offered)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Licking lips more than usual
  • Making repeated swallowing motions
  • Dribbling more than usual
  • Restlessness.

When to contact your vet

EMERGENCY

Contact your vet immediately if your dog is trying to vomit but isn't bringing anything up or if they have a swollen/bloated tummy. Both can be signs of a twisted stomach (GDV) which can be life threatening.

Also contact your vet if your dog is showing any of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Vomiting constantly with no gaps in-between
  • Vomiting and is very young, very old or has other illnesses
  • Painful tummy
  • Blood or black dots in their vomit
  • Showing signs of being dehydrated (for example, sticky gums or sunken eyes)
  • Low energy (lethargy) i.e. quiet, sleeping more than normal or unable to get up.

You know your dog best. If they don’t have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

dog vomiting

Caring for a dog who has vomited 

Always contact your vets if your dog seems unwell or you are worried. However, if your dog has only vomited once and otherwise seems happy and well you may decide to wait and see if they vomit again before taking them to the vets. Here are a few things you can try at home during that time.

Withhold food. A short period of no food (12-24 hours) can help. Make sure they can still drink water.

Small, regular bland meals. Give your dog small, frequent, bland meals throughout the day.

There are bland diets available in tins (contact your vet for more information), or alternatively you can give them plain boiled rice and chicken breast or white fish.

Don’t give your dog anything rich or fatty – this could make their vomiting worse!

Plenty of water. Vomiting can cause dehydration so your dog may need to drink more than usual to replace the water they’re losing in their vomit. Provide plenty of fresh water and make sure your dog is drinking little and often throughout the day. Speak to your vet if your dog won’t drink or is drinking much more than usual.

Rest. Let your dog rest and recover. They may not want to go out and about, so avoid anything too energetic for a couple of days.

Gradually reintroduce their normal food. Once your dog has stopped vomiting you can start to re-introduce their normal diet.

Published: June 2018

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Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst