What Should I Do if My Dog is Vomiting?

What Should I Do if My Dog is Vomiting?

Most pet parents take their responsibilities very seriously when they adopt a cat or dog from their local animal shelter.  They understand that pets are totally reliant on their people for health and happiness, which is why they’re willing to purchase the best food and the safest toys, as well as spend plenty of time grooming and playing with the pets.  This is how man’s best friend becomes a member of the family.

However, even with the best possible care, your pet could become ill or injured, and in these cases, you need to know what to do.  Just as you learn how to care for infants and small children when they catch a flu or scrape a knee, you need to have some basic understanding of animal care for your lovable pet.  If your pooch starts to vomit, you don’t want to stand idly by, helpless to rectify the situation and soothe your ailing pet.  Here are just a few things you need to know in case your dog starts vomiting.

Diagnosing Vomiting

The first thing you need to know is that vomiting isn’t always a sign of dire illness.  Maybe your dog ate too fast or ate something he shouldn’t have and he’s vomiting to get it out.  This can be frightening to a pet owner, but it’s ultimately his way of avoiding discomfort or other issues.

It’s also important to understand the difference between vomiting and regurgitation.  You might think the two are the same, but regurgitation is generally related to undigested food that comes back up from the esophagus, not the stomach.  It’s over quickly and is usually an isolated incident, perhaps related to eating too quickly.

If your dog is vomiting, you’ll notice warning signs first, such as excessive swallowing or drooling.  Many dogs will eat grass before they vomit.  Of course, vomiting also includes heaving as the stomach contracts to actively expel contents.

Causes of Vomiting

There are dozens of potential reasons why your dog might vomit.  Often, it has to do with something your dog ate that does not agree with him.  However, it could also be related to something more serious like allergies (to food or medication), exposure to toxins, parasites (like worms), ulcers, obstructions in the intestines, gastroenteritis, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or some types of cancers, just for example.  If your dog has experienced head trauma, vomiting could be a side effect.

Sometimes you can pinpoint the source of vomiting by taking a look at what comes up.  Parasites like worms will be easy to spot.  Or you might see items your dog shouldn’t be ingesting, like people food or non-food items.  You might see a lot of undigested food, perhaps indicating that your dog simply ate too much, too fast.  Keep in mind that regurgitation could also have more significant causes than simple overeating, such as an esophageal disorder.

What to Do

When your dog vomits, you don’t necessarily need to call the vet immediately, unless you spot issues like blood, parasites, or strange colors that could indicate your dog has ingested toxic substances like pesticides, for example.  If your dog vomits and it just looks like food, you should remove food and water sources for a few hours and keep an eye on him, watching for further vomiting or other signs of distress.

If nothing further happens, you can reintroduce water after about 6-8 hours and continue allowing him to drink for several hours.  If he seems normal and no further vomiting occurs, you can reintroduce food after about 12 hours.  You may want to start with something soft and mild, such as rice paired with baby food or cooked chicken meat (sans bones).  If all goes well, he can resume his regular feeding schedule within a day or two.

When to Contact Your Vet

If your dog exhibits further symptoms, like frequent vomiting, dry heaves, projectile vomiting, diarrhea, decreased urination, lethargy, and/or abdominal pain, you need to contact your veterinarian right away to seek advice.  Unusual vomit, including blood, foreign objects, or unnatural colors, should also be cause for concern and elicit a call to your vet’s office.

Just like people, dogs can vomit because of something they ingested, a bug they caught, or more serious issues.  Knowing how to deal with such incidents ensures that you’re able to properly see to the health of your furry friend.


We know your dog is a cherished member of your family, so our entire team shares a commitment to provide the best, most compassionate veterinary care for your dog. We offer a variety of dog services to in the Pflugerville/Austin-Round Rock, TX area including vaccinesdental careweight managementsenior care, and more. Call (512) 251-BARK today to learn more!