Vomiting in dogs
- Vomiting is a common symptom that can be caused by many different things.
- Most cases of vomiting in dogs improve within 24 hours, but some are more serious and require treatment from a vet.
- It’s not always necessary to see your vet the first time your dog throws up, but it’s extremely important to monitor them closely and call your vet for advice if they vomit more than once, seem unwell, or have any other symptoms.
- Contact your vet immediately if your dog is repeatedly trying to vomit but not bringing anything up, especially if they have a bloated tummy - these are symptoms of a twisted stomach/GDV.
Causes of vomiting
Vomiting is a common problem in dogs. Fortunately, most cases are caused by something minor that resolves itself in less than 24 hours, but some are much more serious and require veterinary treatment. Some of the conditions that can cause vomiting in dogs include:
- Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
- Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and guts)
- Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE)
- Gut infections e.g. parvovirus
- Eating something harmful
- A gut blockage
- Twisted stomach (GDV)
- Worms (most common in puppies)
- Gut ulcers (rare)
How to tell if your dog is feeling sick
Dogs often show the following signs if they are feeling nauseous (sick):
- Lip licking and swallowing more than usual
- Dribbling more than usual
- Restlessness and pacing
- A reduced appetite
When to contact your vet
It’s not always necessary to see your vet the first time your dog throws up, but it’s extremely important to monitor them closely and call your vet for advice if they vomit more than once, seem unwell, or have any other symptoms.
Contact your vet straight away if your dog has been vomiting for more than 24 hours, is vomiting constantly with no breaks, is vomiting and is very young or very old, has been vomiting and has other illnesses, or any of the other symptoms listed below:
- Low energy (lethargy): quiet, sleeping more than normal
- A bloated tummy
- A painful tummy
- Retching or trying to vomit but not bringing anything up
- Blood or black dots (look like coffee granules) in their vomit
- Showing signs of dehydration (for example sticky gums or sunken eyes)
- Disorientation or collapse.
You know your dog best. If they don’t have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned, contact your vet.
Consider insuring your dog as soon as you get them, before any signs of illness start. This will ensure you have all the support you need to care for them.
Caring for a dog who has vomited
If your dog has only vomited once and seems otherwise 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.
Starve for a short amount of time
A short period without food (12 - 24 hours) can sometimes help. Make sure they are still drinking water.
Small, regular bland meals
Give your dog small, regular, bland meals throughout the day.
Bland diets are 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 things much worse! Once your dog has stopped vomiting you can start to re-introduce their normal food again.
Plenty of water
To prevent dehydration your dog may need to drink more 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 less or more than usual.
While your dog is feeling poorly, it’s unlikely that they will want to do anything energetic - it’s a good idea to let your dog rest and recover for a couple of days.
Published: December 2020
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst