When dogs throw up, most pet owners assume it’s no big deal. After all, they just need to get whatever dirt or grass they ate out of their system—right? Not always.
Vomiting once might not be cause for concern, but recurring bouts of illness are a sure sign that the problem isn’t merely an upset stomach. Keep your canine companion safe by identifying the symptoms that require a trip to the emergency vet.
Underlying causes of dog vomiting
Vomiting is a broad symptom that overlaps with various ailments. Your dog might’ve just eaten some grass, or the vomiting could indicate that a more serious problem is afoot. Pet parents won’t know for sure what the cause is until their vet provides a diagnosis. However, a dog owner can help the vet by providing thorough details about their pup’s condition.
The best case scenario a pet parent could hope for is that their dog swiped some food scraps from the kitchen counter. If this is the case, your dog might not require a trip to the emergency clinic. Once the dog gets it out of their system, they should be back to normal. Of course, treatment will depend on what the dog ate. If they ingested something toxic to dogs, like onions, grapes or chocolate, call the vet right away.
Recurring episodes of vomiting could potentially stem from a viral or bacterial infection. The parvovirus in particular has been known to trigger vomiting that doesn’t go away on its own. Dogs can come into contact with parvovirus when they inspect the feces of an infected dog. This type of viral infection is especially fatal in puppies because their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet.
A dog might also vomit frequently if there’s an indigestible object in their digestive tract, like a bone fragment, stick or plastic toy. Obstructions can damage the internal organs, which leads to bloody vomit or stool. The dog won’t be able to dislodge the object on their own, so take them to an emergency clinic where vets can determine the appropriate course of action.
Any number of chronic conditions can also cause frequent vomiting. For instance, stomach ulcers irritate the lining of the digestive tract and can make dogs throw up. A dog might vomit frequently if they have hemophilia, a condition that prevents blood from clotting properly. Some forms of cancer start with symptoms like vomiting, as well.
Monitoring symptoms at home
Not all instances of vomiting warrant a trip to the vet hospital. Dogs usually recover quickly on their own when they vomit only once and no blood is present. Any time a dog vomits, the owner should first monitor their symptoms to see if it happens again.
Vomiting isn’t much of a concern if the dog is otherwise acting like their normal self. Dogs typically have a good prognosis if they’re energetic, playful, not running a fever and can keep food and water down. Continue monitoring your dog over the course of the next several days to make sure the vomiting doesn’t begin again.
When to visit the vet hospital
There are a few warning signs that will let you know when it’s time to visit the vet hospital. The most obvious symptom is frequent vomiting that lasts for more than two days. At this point, the dog is no longer capable of keeping down food and requires medical intervention.
Dehydration is a potentially fatal side effect of recurrent vomiting. The body loses a lot of fluids though vomit and diarrhea, especially when the pup refuses to eat or drink. Assess your dog’s level of hydration by lifting the skin on the back of their neck. If it takes a long time to snap back into position, the dog is severely dehydrated and needs medical attention right away.
You should also bring your dog to a vet hospital if other symptoms are present alongside the frequent vomiting. Blood in the vomit means something is wrong, even if you see only a small patch. Other symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, listlessness or being unaware of their surroundings. If these symptoms arise, don’t wait to see if they’ll go away on their own. Prompt medical attention is the key to saving your dog’s life.
Dogs are bound to experience an upset stomach every once in a while. They’re curious creatures who like to eat things they shouldn’t! Recognizing the symptoms and what they mean is crucial so you know when bouts of vomiting go from bad to worse. If you’re ever in doubt, play it safe and seek help from a professional.