When Bark Becomes Barf: An Essential Guide To Dog Vomiting

It’s universally acknowledged that the fastest moving object in the universe is a dog owner who hears their pooch about to throw up on a carpeted area. Amiright?

If you know what I’m talking about, then you’re most likely a paw-parent to a puking pooch. There are many names for dog vomit: puke, vom, spew, hurl, upchuck, and there are an equally vast number of reasons for why your dog is doing the technicolor yawn.

We’ll tackle the subject of dog vomit in this article: what causes it, what you can do about it, and when you should worry.

Vomiting vs Regurgitating

I bet you thought these two were the same thing. The truth is there’s actually a big difference between vomiting and regurgitating, and it’s important that you know the difference as their cause and treatments are very different.

Dog vomiting

Vomiting can be thought of as a more active process in dogs, as it occurs when stomach contents are forcefully pushed up out of the stomach and upper intestines. If your dog throws up yellow or partially digested food, it’s vomit. Sometimes it even has a sour smell.

You can generally tell when your dog is about to vomit because they will show classic signs of nausea which include drooling, repeatedly licking their lips, and swallowing a lot. They may even try eating grass to induce vomiting.

Vomiting is usually followed by your dog gulping down a whole lot of water to avoid dehydration that can result from vomiting. Dogs also tend to eat their own vomit. Sure, it’s gross to us, but it isn’t anything you need to be worried about.

Common causes of dog vomiting:

Why is my dog throwing up?

  • Unsuitable diet (eating garbage, fatty food, table scraps);
  • Inappropriate consumption of [non-food items] (https://blog.petcube.com/pica-in-dogs/) like sticks, balls, bones, hair, etc;
  • Diseases like cancer, diabetes, or stomach ulcers;
  • Parasites;
  • Stress and anxiety;
  • Motion sickness;
  • Viral infections.

Dogs regurgitating

Why is my dog throwing up undigested food?

So, if vomiting is an active process, regurgitation is more passive. Regurgitating rarely involves any kind of forceful ejecting of stomach contents. It’s more a case of gently expelling undigested food that didn’t quite make it all the way into the stomach. Think of it as more of a reflux situation than a vomit.

Usually, regurgitation occurs shortly after eating and often when dogs eat too fast or too much.

Common causes of regurgitation:

  • Eating too much;
  • Eating too fast;
  • Breed – commonly in breeds like Labrador Retriever, Shar-Pei, and Irish Setter;
  • Stress or excitement.

What causes dog vomiting

There are many reasons that your dog is vomiting, and not all are causes for concern. Certain breeds are more prone to puking, while the age of your dog and certain behaviors can also make it more likely that your pup will puke.

We’ve covered that there are many causes for dog vomiting, but we can further classify vomiting as either acute or chronic. Acute vomiting will come on suddenly and usually resolves fairly quickly, while chronic vomiting can occur frequently or constantly over a long period of time.

Causes of acute vomiting in dogs

Common causes of acute vomiting in dogs include things like contagious diseases like parvovirus which is one of the main reasons for puppy vomiting and is very serious. Intestinal parasites are another common cause of acute vomiting in dogs.

Very often dogs vomit as a result of eating something bad, for example eating a poisonous plant or human food that isn’t suitable for dogs. This can also be a result of your dog consuming an item that isn’t edible.

Something important to mention is that when dogs consume an inappropriate diet that is high in fatty it can cause pancreatitis which will also present with vomiting.

Common causes of chronic vomiting in dogs

Chronic vomiting in dogs can go on for a long time and can be frightening and frustrating if you can’t find the cause. Puppies that vomit continuously usually do so as a result of parasites, but it can sometimes also be because of food sensitivity.

Serious diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and chronic pancreatitis can cause chronic vomiting in dogs and must be treated by a vet. A special diet will be required, as well as ensuring your pup has plenty of water to prevent dehydration which is a major risk of frequent vomiting.

Vomiting in puppies

Why is my puppy throwing up?

Vomiting in puppies is often a result of ingesting inappropriate things like inedible objects, or simply gulping down their food too fast. Their curious nature means that they’re also at risk of poisoning from chomping poisonous plants or potentially toxic human foods.

Because puppies haven’t yet had all their vaccinations it’s common for vomiting in puppies to be a result of an infectious disease like parvovirus or also as a result of intestinal parasites.

Frequent vomiting in puppies, vomiting that is accompanied by diarrhea, or vomit that contains blood should be treated seriously. Puppies that are vomiting and that appear lethargic or confused should be seen by a vet urgently. Puppies can dehydrate faster than adult dogs, so it’s essential to ensure they remain hydrated.

Types of dog vomit: a dog vomit color chart

The good news is that you can easily determine the cause of your dog’s vomiting. The bad news is you have to look at their vomit to do so. The color and consistency of your dog’s puke can give you a good indication of what the cause is. Check out our dog vomit color guide below:

Yellow Vomit

Why is my dog throwing up yellow?

Yellow vomit is mostly made up of bile secretions. Bile is secreted by the liver and aids in digestion by breaking down food and making nutrients available to be utilized throughout the body.

This kind of yellow vomit dogs can be foamy or even thicker and more mucous-like, and there are a few things that can cause this kind of vomit:

  1. If your pooch hasn’t eaten in a while, bile can build up and begin to irritate the stomach, causing your dog to vomit.
  2. A dog vomiting yellow can also be a result of a food allergy. This will usually become apparent when you make changes to your dog’s diet, but dogs have also been known to suddenly develop allergies to things they’ve been regularly eating for years. Trauma or sudden life changes can trigger allergies. Common food allergens in dogs include eggs, dairy, wheat, soy, corn, fish, pork, lamb, and beef.
  3. A dog that is dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke, can also begin to vomit yellow.
  4. Motions sickness can also cause your dog to throw up yellow.

Sometimes, yellow vomit can be a symptom of something more serious. If this is the case, keep an eye out for other symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain that might indicate pancreatitis.

Yellow vomit that presents with any of these symptoms may indicate a more serious gastrointestinal issue that must be treated by a veterinarian immediately:

  • Loss of appetite;
  • Lethargy;
  • Dehydration;
  • Weight loss;
  • Yellow skin, eyes, or gums;
  • Diarrhea which may contain blood;
  • Vomiting blood.

Clear watery

Why is my dog throwing up a clear liquid?

If your dog is barfing up clear watery liquid, it is usually water that your dog has consumed to deal with nausea or because of stomach secretions.

Foamy and white

Why is my dog throwing up white foam?

Frothy and white vomit is usually from a build-up of stomach acid in an empty stomach.

Red or pink vomit

My dog is throwing up blood

Red or pink vomit indicates the presence of blood which is often the cause of nausea. The presence of blood isn’t a good thing and must always be taken seriously. Vomit that starts pink and progresses to red needs to be treated with urgency.

If your dog’s vomiting remains lightly pinkish and resolves quickly, it might not be super urgent, but still worth checking out with the vet to be safe.

If the blood is fresh, is coming up in clots, or has the appearance of coffee grounds, it may be that your pooch has some bleeding in the stomach or upper intestines. This kind of bleeding is usually a result of something serious: an ulcer, tumor, or even poisoning. Seek treatment as soon as possible.

Brown vomit

Dog throwing up brown liquid

You’ll need to really get a good look at brown vomit to know if it’s undigested food, partially digested food, or something more. This is where regurgitation and vomiting can be easily confused.

Usually, it might mean that your dog ate the food too quickly. However, take a closer look to be sure. Sometimes blood in the vomit can appear brown.

Green vomit

Dog throwing up green bile?

This might sound like something from an alien movie, right? Usually, vomit is green because dogs tend to eat grass to induce vomiting. Also, if your dog pukes on an empty stomach, this can contain gall bile secretion which appears in greenish-yellow color.

Worms in vomit

Dog throwing up worms

No prizes for guessing what this means. If your dog spews up live worms, chances are pretty good that your poor pooch has some parasites on board.

But just because your dog isn’t hacking up worms doesn’t mean that they don’t have parasites. Make sure to stick to a regular deworming regimen for you and your canine companion.

Grass in vomit

Dog throwing up grass

No need to worry too much about this one. It’s very common for dogs to graze on the lawn to help ease their nausea and to bring on vomiting.

While it’s fairly harmless in small doses, if your dog regularly chows down on grass, it may be bad for them in terms of the fertilizers, pesticides, and parasites that they may be ingesting at the same time.

How to treat a vomiting dog

If your dog is experiencing mild vomiting without other serious symptoms, there are some things that you can try at home.

The most important thing is to ensure that your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink. Vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration, so it’s important to ensure your pup has plenty of fluids.

If you think the reason that your dog is barfing is because it is eating too quickly, then you can try to slow down their gobbling ways by using a puzzle feeder or a snuffle mat.

If you’ve recently made changes to your dog’s diet, it may be that your dog is disagreeing with the new food. Try switching to a diet designed for sensitive tummies and one that is high in good quality ingredients. It is advisable to introduce new foods gradually to avoid worsening the situation.

Once the vomiting has stopped, feed your dog small amounts regularly throughout the day, gradually moving back into your dog’s usual feeding schedule as you slowly increase the amount of food.

The presence of vomiting isn’t always cause for alarm. However, if you spot any signs of something more serious or the vomiting persists or worsens, contact your vet immediately.

If the vomiting is accompanied by your dog sleeping more than usual, refusing to eat, or experiencing diarrhea, call your vet. If there is blood present in the vomit, or if your dog is vomiting excessively, consult your vet urgently.

Online Vet by Petcube

If your dog is vomiting and you need advice, turning to Google can yield a bunch of vague or conflicting advice that may or may not be useful. You don’t want to rush to the vet unnecessarily, putting your already sick pooch through that trauma and potentially risking a hefty after-hours vet bill for something that might turn out to be mild.

Of course, you also don’t want to ignore something that is potentially very serious or leave your poor pup to suffer needlessly. So, what do you do?

We’ve got the solution! With Online Vet from Petcube, it is now possible to have a vet in your pocket at any time of the day or night. For just $19.99 a month, you can have unlimited access to a trained vet at any time.

This way you can reach out with any concerns you may have about your dog’s health and well-being. The team of online vets will be able to advise you on any concerns and whether it is something that needs to be attended to immediately or if it is just a mild case that can be treated at home.

While the online vets can’t make any official diagnoses or prescribe any medication, they can advise you on the best course of action for your vomiting doggo.

Final thoughts

Dogs are inherently curious creatures who tend to explore their world by eating it. While this is normal behavior it can feel less so when you hear the telltale retching of a dog about to barf in your bed.

Most causes of dogs’ vomiting are usually a harmless way for them to expel something that isn’t vibing with them. Sometimes, though, the cause of dogs’ vomiting can be something more serious, and as a dog owner, you need to know what to look for to ensure you get your dog the treatment it needs.

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