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Vet's Blog > Vomiting in dog

Vomiting in dog

It’s not unusual for dogs to throw up what they have eaten. First there will be a dreadful retching followed by upchucking of food they have eaten ranging from greenish bile to undigested dinner to anything we have not imagined.

What does vomiting means?

Vomiting is generally defined as the forceful ejection of stomach and upper intestinal contents. However it should bear in mind by the dog owner the difference between vomiting and regurgitation, the latter being entirely new topic. Regurgitation, on the other hand, is a mild ejection of undigested food from the dog’s esophagus through the mouth. Beside in regurgitation the food is not digested and there is absence of forceful retching of muscular abdomen. The regurgitation happens shortly after eating food..

Beside the above mentioned two issues there is also different phenomena named Expectoration .Expectoration is different from vomiting and regurgitation and involves coughing up material such as mucus or phlegm from the lungs. However, dogs with a hacking cough may also retch and vomit at the end of an episode of particularly forceful coughing. Either of these events can occur during respiratory diseases such as kennel cough.

A number of diseases and upset in the dog’s digestion are associated with vomiting. This is probably the one of the most common non specific symptoms dog owner as well as vets in Nepal likely to encounter.

All vomiting is the result of stimulation of vomiting center in the brain. It is a interesting to know that in dogs, the vomiting center is well developed; there dog vomit more readily and often than other animal and we human. As the need to vomit is perceived, the dog appears anxious. He begins to salivate and makes repeated effort to swallow.

As the dog starts to vomit, there is simultaneous contraction of muscle of the stomach and abdominal wall. This leads to an abrupt build up in intra abdominal pressure. At the same time the lower esophageal( food pipe) ring relaxes making it easier the stomach content to travel up to the esophagus and out of the mouth.With the neck extended, the dog makes a harsh gagging sound.

 

What causes the vomiting in dogs?

The most common cause of vomiting in the dog is overeating. Puppies who are often voracious eater especially Labrador and Golden Retriever gobble their food quickly and exercise immediately are likely to vomit. This after meal vomiting is not serious. It may be caused by feeding puppies from a common food bowl (which encourage rapid eating). Separating puppies, or feeding small meal more often, usually solve this problem.

The second most common cause of vomiting is eating grass, or some other indigestible material that is irritating to the stomach.

If your dog vomits once or twice, and appears perfectly normal and has no sign of illness, the condition probably is not serious and requires no special treatment. In fact, vomiting once or twice a week is quite normal for dogs.

 

However there are very many conditions that can cause vomiting.  Few of them are

  • Gastritis( most common)
  • Intestinal obstruction due to eating foreign body like ball, bone, socks etc
  • Twisted stomach which is known as gastric dilation volvulus(GDV) seen especially in German Shepherd after having meal— It is an emergency case)
  • Worm infestation
  • Pyometra( Pus in uterus)
  • Pancreatitis(Inflammation of pancreas)
  • Medication side effect
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
  • Motion/ travel sickness
  • Food allergies
  • Stomach ulcer( possibly due to anti inflammatory drugs)
  • Infection like Parvovirus in puppies
  • Colitis
  • Vestibular disease
  • Cancer

 

Often it is possible to get a clue to your dog’s problem by noticing how and what the dog vomits. Some types of vomit are quite serious and have grave underlying causes.

 

Repeated vomiting

The dog first vomits. Then continue to retch and frothy clear fluid is brought up from mouth. This type of vomit usually suggest irritation of stomach by ingesting grass, spoiled food and certain infectious diseases like gastroenteritis. There is a severe irritation of intestinal lining caused by these agents.

 

 

Sporadic vomiting

In such case, the dog do not vomit continuously but off and on. Beside there is no direct relationship between meal and the appetite is poor. The dog has a haggard look and shows signs of listlessness. Their health condition is  often deteriorated and loss of glow in face. Then you should suspect some serious disorder of kidney or liver or have chronic gastritis, heavy worm infestation, or diabetes .A thorough check up by vet is mandatory in such case.

 

 

Vomiting blood

Fresh blood in vomitus results from breakage in mucus lining somewhere between mouth and upper small intestine. common cause are foreign bodies, tumor(malign or benign) and ulcer. Material that looks like coffee color is old blood that is partly digested. It indicate problem in stomach or duodenum. Some cases may be caused by swallow blood.

When a dog vomit a blood then the condition should not be taken lightly and this case warrant a trip to veterinarian.

 

Fecal (stool) vomiting

If dog vomits foul material that look or smell like stool, suspect an obstruction in intestinal track. Blunt or penetrating abdominal trauma is another cause of fecal vomiting. This type of vomiting produces marked dehydration( lack of water in body).Hospitalization of the pet may needed.

 

Projectile vomiting

This is a forceful type of vomiting in which the content in stomach are ejected out suddenly or abruptly, often in a considerable distance. It  is indicative of a complete blockage in upper gastrointestinal track. The possible cause for this type vomiting are foreign bodies, hairball, duodenal ulcer tumor and stricture .

Similarly any condition that causes an increase in intracranial pressure also causes projectile vomiting. This includes brain tumor, encephalitis and blood clots.

 

Vomiting worms

Puppies with heavy roundworm infestation occasionally vomit adult worm. These pups should be treated with appropriate

 

Emotional vomiting

Dog can vomit like human does in the state of upset, excitement or suffering from phobia ( for example, during thunderstorm , earthquake). Remove your dog from the cause of anxiety and give a tranquilizer if necessary.

 

Motion sickness

Young do often become nauseated and vomit when riding in car. This is caused by stimulation of vomiting center in brain.

 

Diagnosing the cause of   vomiting

The vet will take a through history from the owner about their dog’s feeding and other related issue. Beside he will also perform complete physical examination of the dog. X-ray, ultrasound fecal analysis, blood work are necessary for accurate diagnosis and rule out other possible causes. Even exploratory surgery is required sometime in extreme cases.

 

When to see vet?

If you find your dog normal and only vomit once or twice then it is not a serious concern. But if he vomit too many times and his body condition deteriorate, then you should take your dog to vet. Some of condition for visiting to vet are

  • If it is puppy especially unvaccinated one
  • Geriatric (old age) dog
  • Refuse to eat
  • Blood foreign object in blood
  • Projectile vomiting
  • Has some pre existing medical problem (like kidney and liver disease)
  • Has diarrhea
  • Has weight loss
  • Cant even hold small amount of water
  • Is dull and depressed
  • Has pale gums
  • Is in the state of shock

 

 

What are the treatment options?

If no other serious signs then withhold the food and water for 12-24 hour means you don’t give anything to dog for a day as the stomach lining is irritated and may cause vomit if any food ingested. After fasting, slowly introduce water and soft bland diet like cooked chicken with white rice mixed with cottage cheese for few days. Thereafter change to normal regular diet.

Antiemetic should be given to dog before traveling in car. Beside don’t feed dog before travelling.

If dog’s vomit stop and shows other sign of illness as mentioned above you should take your dog to treat the underlying cause accordingly. Sometime hospitalization of the pet may required.

 

How to prevent vomiting in dogs?

Many cause of vomiting can’t be avoided however if the owner is cautious in some ways then it can mean lot to dog’s health and life

  • Don’t change your dog’s diet abruptly. If you have to change make it gradual and slow. Also try to avoid food they are allergic or intolerant.
  • Do not feed table scrap
  • Never feed certain items like grapes, raisin, chocolates, onion to dogs though they are safe for human to consume
  • Don’t let your dog to scavenge as this garbage eating habit causes gastroenteritis. In addition chances of poisoning and foreign body ingestion will be maximum which ultimately results vomiting.
  • Don’t give your dog or puppy any toy that can be swallowed or broken in pieces.
  • Lastly if your dog are inquisitive or chew or eat anything that comes in their mouth then it is prudent to use muzzle in them.

 

 

 

Written by Dr Pratik Man Pradhan B.V.Sc &A.H

Chief Veterinarian (Mount Everest Kennel Club)