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When is dog vomiting an emergency?

Vomiting in Dogs

There are many reasons why your dog may throw up, some reasons are far more serious than others. Today, our Somerset County vets share what you should know about vomiting in dogs and when to head to a vet.

Why Dogs Throw Up

Vomiting is a common sign of an irritated stomach and inflamed intestines, or gastrointestinal upset in dogs.

As almost every dog owner understands that while vomiting in dogs is an unpleasant thing to witness and can be distressing it is your pet’s way of emptying their stomach of indigestible material to prevent it from remaining in their system, or from reaching other areas of their body.

Causes of Vomiting in Dogs

There are a number of things that can cause a dog to vomit, and sometimes even healthy dogs will fall ill for no apparent reason and recover quickly.

It’s possible your pooch could have eaten too quickly, dined on too much grass or eaten something their stomach simply doesn't agree with. This type of vomiting may be a one-time occurrence and not be accompanied by any other symptoms. So, vomiting in dogs isn't always a reason for concern.

That said, potential causes of acute vomiting (sudden or severe) can be related to diseases, disorders or health complications such as:

  • Heatstroke
  • Ingestion of poisons, toxins or food
  • Bloat
  • Reaction to medication
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Change in diet

When To Worry About Vomiting in Dogs

Most dogs will vomit on occasion. If your dog vomits once or even twice, shows no other symptoms, then returns to normal, there is likely nothing to worry about. (Although we still recommend calling your vet to let them know).

That said, in some cases, vomiting can be a clear indication of a serious medical issue that needs urgent care. Contact your vet right away if you see any of these signs:

  • Vomiting in conjunction with other symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, fever, anemia, etc.
  • Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as food, objects, children’s toy, etc.)
  • Vomiting a lot at one time
  • Vomiting/dry heaving with nothing coming up
  • Vomiting blood
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Continuous, repeated or recurring vomiting
  • Vomiting accompanied by bloody diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • If vomit appears foamy, or bright green (See below for details)

Chronic Vomiting

If your dog has been vomiting frequently or it has become a long-term or chronic issue, this is cause for concern, especially if you’ve noticed symptoms including abdominal pain, depression, dehydration, blood, poor appetite, fever, weakness, weight loss or other unusual behaviors.

Long term, recurrent vomiting can be caused by:

  • Cancer
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Uterine infection
  • Constipation
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Colitis

As a cautious pet owner, it’s always best to prioritize safety and caution when it comes to your pup’s health. The best way to learn whether your dog’s vomiting is normal or not is to contact your vet. 

Different Colors & Appearances of Dog Vomit

Depending on the cause, your dog's vomit could be clear, yellow, green, red, or brown and the consistency could be anywhere from foamy or watery to semi-solid. So what do all those characteristics mean? 

That said, here are what some types of vomit indicate in dogs:

  • Bright green or team vomit could mean that your pup has ingested rodent poison. Immediate veterinary care is essential! Contact our emergency vets right away or for further advice call the ASPCA poison control hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
  • Black or brown vomit that looks a bit like coffee grounds can indicate poisoning (this is a medical emergency), ulcers, an intestinal blockage, viral conditions, tick borne diseases or cancer.
  • Bright red vomit can be a sign of gastritis, ulsers, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), foreign body ingestion (contact your vet immediately), trauma (injured stomach, hit by car), clotting issues, heat stroke, parvovirus, or inflammation of the stomach.
  • Light brown could mean that your dog has ingested chocolate (emergency care is required), swallowed mud or dirt, has an intestinal blockage, or has been eating poop.
  • Foamy or white vomit can be a sign of bloat or GDV (contact an emergency vet immediately)

If you are taking your dog to the vet due to vomiting take a sample of the vomit with you for your veterinarian to examine. Why this may seem yucky it can save time (and maybe even your dog's life) when determining the cause of your dog's vomiting.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has Ingested a Toxin

The best thing to do if you are concerned about your dog's vomiting, or if you suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic substance, is to immediately contact your veterinarian or emergency vet, or call Poison Control for more advice. 

What To Do If You Determine That Your Dog's Vomiting Is Not an Emergency

If you believe that your dog's vomiting is not caused by anything serious there are a couple of things you may want to do to help ease your pup's upset tummy. Of course we recommend that you still call your vet to let them know what's happening, your vet knows your dog best and could offer suggestions on how best to handle your dog's tummy troubles. That said, many vets recommend the following approaches for mild gastric upset in dogs..

  • Skip your dog's next meal then provide a smaller portion for the following meal. If your dog does not vomit again return to normal feeding.
  • Provide your dog with a light on the stomach GI formula dog food from your vet's office to help ease them back to normal eating.
  • Make your dog a light meal of cooked chicken and boiled rice and feed in small portions.
  • Provide your dog with plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.  
  • If your dog is not back to normal within 24 hours call your vet to book an examination for your pup.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

If you are concerned about your dog's vomiting contact AnimERge right away. Our Somerset County emergency vets are here to help.

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