Anyone that has a dog has witnessed their canine companion throw up more than a few times. While it may be worrisome to us, throwing up is fairly natural for dogs. With that said, it can still be really to understand what can cause this physical reaction.
We are here to help! In this article, we cover some of the most common reasons dogs throw up and explain what you can do about it.
Why Do Dogs Throw Up?
A variety of factors causes vomiting in dogs. While some of the causes are rather mild, like situational stress and motion sickness, there are other reasons why dogs vomit that you should treat as a major cause for concern.
For example, vomiting caused by gastrointestinal disease or a foreign body obstruction in the GI tract can be extremely serious, and your pet should be seen immediately.
To make things easier, we will go over some of the most common causes for vomiting in dogs, so you will know what to look out for.
Inflammation-Related Vomiting in Dogs
Inflammation within the stomach and other digestive organs are one of the most common causes of vomiting in dogs. This localized inflammation can be caused by dietary indiscretion, which essentially means that your dog has eaten something that has caused an upset stomach.
This occurrence can be pretty common, especially if you have a curious dog that tends to swallow whatever it finds. For example, if your dog ripped into a garbage bag and swallowed something rotten, it would not be surprising if the dog vomited shortly after.
Stress-Related Vomiting and Inflammation
Other causes of inflammation in the stomach and intestines can include acute or chronic stress and anxiety. If you have an anxiety-prone dog, it may vomit when going through periods of heightened stress.
Situations that can lead to a vomiting dog can include times when you have guests over, trips to a vet clinic, lengthy thunderstorms, or significant changes in the environment, like time spent in a kennel or when a family moves to a new house.
Unfortunately, serious episodes of stress and anxiety can trigger internal inflammation and nausea, which can cause a dog to have an upset stomach and throw up. If your dog’s vomiting seems somewhat situational, there is a good chance it is related to stress and anxiety.
Certain food sensitivities and allergies can also trigger vomiting in dogs. Dogs that are allergic to certain ingredients within their food might respond by occasionally vomiting after they have consumed a meal.
The most common ingredient in food that causes this type of allergic reaction is chicken and other types of poultry. If you notice that your dog sneezes, seems itchy, and occasionally vomits, especially after they eat, you could be dealing with a food allergy.
In these cases, you should check the ingredient list on your dog’s food and check for the presence of poultry, as well as other common allergens, like dairy products. Try switching the food up for another brand that does not contain these ingredients. If you are lucky, that could resolve the vomiting issue.
Vomiting Caused by Motion Sickness
Just like humans, some dogs will puke when they become dizzy or disoriented. For example, if you notice your dog drools excessively in the car and sometimes pukes in or shortly after they have gotten out of the car, your dog could be experiencing motion sickness.
There are anti-nausea medications you can offer your dog to help with motion sickness, and it is not usually considered a serious issue.
Parasites, Infections, and Other Health Issues
Other common reasons why dogs throw up are related to bacterial infections and parasites within the dog’s digestive system. Parasites, such as intestinal worms, can cause bloat and vomiting. Certain bacterial and viral infections can also cause these same clinical signs.
Metabolic diseases, such as renal disease, hypothyroidism, and Addison’s disease, can cause intermittent vomiting. Depending on your dog’s breed, they might have a predisposition to certain medical conditions that can lead to gastrointestinal bloat, retching, and vomiting.
These diseases can include gastrointestinal dilation volvulus, megaesophagus, or Hiatal hernias. As you would expect, these conditions should be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.
Keep an eye on other symptoms, such as lethargy, a loss of appetite, noticeable weight loss, and other significant changes in behavior.
Vomiting That is Related to a Foreign Object
If you suspect your dog could have eaten something it should not have, like a piece of a toy or plastic garbage, there is a good chance that a blockage is the primary cause of repeated vomiting.
Gastrointestinal foreign bodies can result in serious emergencies, and it is not uncommon for a dog to need surgery to have them removed.
Why is My Dog Throwing Up Yellow?
Yellow vomit is almost always an indication that the dog is throwing up stomach bile.
Bile is a type of digestive fluid that is produced by the liver and stored within the dog’s gallbladder. It is a natural substance that helps the dog’s digestive system break down food so nutrients can be absorbed.
When dogs start vomiting bile, it is usually a sign that their stomach is empty, as an overabundance of bile is likely coming up from the small intestine and causing some irritation to the dog’s stomach.
If your dog only vomits a yellow bile one or two times and there is no vomiting that occurs afterward, there is no need for alarm. In these cases, you can try to feed the dog its normal food. If they still have a good appetite, the dog might have just been really hungry.
However, if your dog continues to have yellow vomit and does not seem willing to eat its food, it could be a sign that they are very sick. Look for other symptoms, like a lack of appetite, lethargy, and diarrhea. In these cases, speak with a veterinarian about a diagnosis and potential treatment options.
Why is My Dog Throwing Up White Foam?
White foam or an abundance of bubbles within the vomit is typically a sign that the stomach is irritated and empty. It can be caused by inflammation inside the stomach called gastritis.
In many cases, the vomit starts as yellow bile. After all of the available bile has been expelled from the stomach, any further vomit can look like white foam. Again, this signifies that there is nothing left within the dog’s stomach.
If your dog is retching and vomiting white foam, it could also be a sign of bloat or gastric dilation volvulus. It could also be a sign that your dog is suffering from a foreign body obstruction, which, as we discussed, should be treated as an emergency.
If your dog has prolonged periods of vomiting with lethargy, anorexia, and other abnormal clinical signs, they should be seen by a veterinarian right away!
What Can I Give My Dog for an Upset Stomach?
There are plenty of home remedies you can make and feed to your dog to help ease its stomach issues. In most cases, bland foods made from easily digestible ingredients will help.
These include plain canned pumpkin puree, unflavored lactose-free yogurt, unseasoned sweet potatoes, and boiled chicken breast served over cooked white rice. Note that this type of bland diet should only be used for a short time and should not be used to treat chronic vomiting because they’re not complete, balanced diets. A veterinarian can also recommend some pre-made dog foods to ease stomach issues and reduce vomiting!
If your dog has prolonged vomiting, it is important to seek medical advice from a veterinarian right away. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help with gastric acid reflux, nausea, and upset stomach. Remember, while vomiting can be insignificant and simply a sign of hunger, stress, or allergies, it could also be a sign of something far more serious!
For more information, consider reading our article about common causes of diarrhea in dogs. We also recommend taking a look at our list of the Top 10 Less-Known Pet Toxins.
As always, we recommend booking an appointment with one of our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians if you have any further questions or concerns. If you are interested in making a free online profile, sign up today!