My dog just vomited! What do I do?!?!
When it comes to vomiting in dogs, the range of causes can be as innocuous as a mild belly ache to life threatening diseases. Therefore it is important to determine and understand the common causes of vomiting in dogs to decide whether you should seek veterinary care!
The first crucial step in vomiting dogs is to differentiate between vomiting and regurgitation.
How can I tell if my dog is vomiting or regurgitating?
Vomiting is the forceful ejection of contents from the stomach and/or upper intestine. This will likely involve your dog retching and actively contracting their stomach muscles to expel undigested or partially digested food, which may be associated with yellow fluid (bile). Usually your dog will show signs of nausea before vomiting such as restlessness, lip smacking and drooling.
Regurgitation on the other hand involves the effortless expulsion of undigested food, water and saliva from the esophagus. Often there will be no warning or indicator that your dog is about to regurgitate, and your dog will often show no sign of discomfort.
At MyVet we see lots of breeds which tend to regurgitate (pugs, bulldogs, boston terriers, frenchies) – so if you’re unsure please get in touch with us!
My dog is definitely vomiting!
Now that you’ve determined your dog is truly vomiting – is it important to know when you should and shouldn’t be concerned.
If your dog has had a once off vomit and otherwise seems well, then more than not, it is a reaction to a mild stomach upset and of minor significance. In these cases, the symptoms will rapidly resolve after vomiting and your dog will be back to their normal self quite rapidly.
However if your dog has had multiple vomits in succession or has been vomiting over the course of multiple days, they should be assessed by a veterinarian to address the underlying cause. In addition, you should seek immediate veterinary attention if your dog’s vomiting is associated with any of the following symptoms:
- Blood in vomit / stools
- Abdominal pain
- Pale/white gums
Common causes of vomiting
The cause of vomiting is extremely varied – however the two main categories that are important to differentiate are causes directly related to the gastrointestinal system (which includes the oesphagous, stomach and intestines) and causes outside of the gastrointestinal system.
Primary Gastrointestinal causes include:
- Sudden changes in food
- Dietary indiscretion
- Intestinal parasites
- Obstructions in the gastrointestinal system
- Inflammatory diseases of the bowels
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections
- Toxin ingestion
Extra Gastrointestinal causes include:
- Motion sickness
- Metabolic diseases
- Hormonal diseases
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Gall bladder disease
Diagnosing the cause of the vomiting will vary from case-to-case depending on your dogs history and presentation. Here at MyVet, we strongly believe a systematic and logical approach to vomiting is required given the wide range of causes. Therefore we have a standardised protocol to ensure our investigation is thorough and complete, which we tailor on a case-to-case basis dependent on what the priorities should be.
The first step will always involve a thorough physical exam as well as extensive history taking to build the diagnostic picture.
From this, we determine what further diagnostic tests (if required) should be performed:
Tests which may be recommended include:
- Blood tests: To rule out systemic causes of vomiting such as liver or kidney disease.
- X-Rays: To evaluate the abdominal structures and is particularly good at detecting dense objects such as ingested bones
- Ultrasound: To evaluate the abdominal organs for any structural disease or abnormalities
- Gastroscopy/endoscopy: In more serious cases, gastroscopy or endoscopy may be required to help diagnose the cause. This involves a camera placed down the oesophagus to visualise the gastrointestinal systemic.
With such a wide range of causes of vomiting, treatment will depend on the diagnosis.
For more minor causes of vomiting such as an upset stomach after eating something inappropriate, anti-nausea medications and dietary management with specialised food will often suffice.
However more serious causes of vomiting will require the underlying issue to be addressed.
This could range from antibiotics for a bacterial infection to even surgery if there are intestinal obstructions.
So what should you do if your dog’s vomiting?
If your dog has a once off vomit and otherwise seems well and themselves, then usually this isn’t cause for concern. However, if your dog has multiple vomits in succession or has been vomiting intermittently for a prolonged period, please bring your dog into MyVet to see your veterinarian to determine the cause.