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Why is My Dog Vomiting?

Cleaning up vomit is a fact of life if you're lucky enough to have a dog in your life. Although all dogs vomit from time to time, it's important to distinguish between simple upset stomachs and more serious conditions that can cause vomiting.

The Difference Between Regurgitation and Vomiting

Some people use "regurgitation" and "vomiting" interchangeably, but the words don't mean the same thing. Vomiting occurs when digested food is forcefully expelled from your dog's stomach. Regurgitated food never makes it the stomach. It becomes lodged in the esophagus until your dog manages to deposit it on your kitchen floor. You can often tell whether vomiting or regurgitation has occurred by taking a close look at the contents of your dog's digestive system. If the material is liquid, it's vomit. If it's fairly solid and composed of recognizable food, regurgitation has occurred.

What Causes Vomiting and Regurgitation?

Vomiting can be caused by:

  • Sampling the Trash. Eating foods found in the trash or even eating non-food items can cause vomiting.
  • Food Changes. Have you recently changed the food you feed your pet? New foods may upset your pet's stomach and cause vomiting.
  • Eating Chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance that can cause death if your dog eats enough of it. Eating very small amounts of chocolate may only cause vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog eats any amount of chocolate, call our office for instructions.
  • Ingesting Poisons. Poisons and toxins found in lawn care products, pesticides and other products can cause vomiting.
  • Diseases and Illnesses. Your dog may vomit if he or she has a viral illness, bacterial infection, colitis, intestinal parasites, liver or kidney failure, pancreatitis or other conditions or diseases. Side effects from medications may also cause vomiting.
  • Obstructions: Vomiting can be a sign that your dog has an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. Blockages can be caused by foreign objects, tumors, hernias, pyloric stenosis and other conditions.
  • Bloat. If your dog has bloat, he or she may try to vomit, but may not be successful. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the stomach twists and fills with gas. If the condition isn't diagnosed and treated quickly, breathing difficulties, stomach rupture or death can occur.
  • Heatstroke. Heatstroke can cause vomiting, in addition to panting, drooling, reddened gums and low urine production. Pouring water over your pet can help, as long as the water is cool, not cold. After you cool down your pet, you'll need to take him or her to the veterinarian to make sure that there are no lasting effects from heatstroke.

Regurgitation may be caused by:

  • Megaesophagus. The condition occurs when the esophagus can't push food into the stomach because it's unable to contract normally. Megaesophagus can be present from birth or can be caused by a foreign object or certain diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, hypothyroidism or myasthenia gravis.
  • Other Causes. Regurgitation can also occur if your dog has a throat abnormality, a disease that affects the muscles or nerves in the throat or esophagus, cancer or a hiatal hernia.

When Should I Be Concerned About Vomiting?

Call the veterinarian if your dog is vomiting and you know or suspect he or she has eaten chocolate, ingested a poison or swallowed a foreign object. It's also important to call if your dog:

  • Can't stop vomiting
  • Vomits every week or every day
  • Vomits blood
  • Has seizures in addition to vomiting
  • Tries to vomit but can't
  • Vomits and also has bloody diarrhea
  • Vomits and displays other signs of illness, such as fever, weakness lack of appetite, weight loss and lethargy

How is Vomiting Treated?

Treatment for vomiting is based on the cause. Removing foreign objects, treating accidental poisoning or treating underlying diseases can be helpful. Vomiting, regardless of the cause, may cause dehydration. During your pet's visit, he or she may give intravenous fluids to combat the effects of dehydration.

The sudden onset of severe vomiting or vomiting that doesn't go away is always a reason for concern. If your dog displays any of the signs mentioned above, call our office as soon as possible.

Sources:

American Kennel Club: Dog Vomiting, 3/28/17

http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/dog-vomiting-causes-diagnosis-and-treatment/

PetMD: Dog Vomiting – Why Is My Dog Throwing Up?

http://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/common-emergencies/e_dg_vomiting?page=2

Dogtime: Possible Reasons for Dog Vomiting

http://dogtime.com/dog-health/general/5478-reasons-dog-vomiting-faq-jenna-stregowski

Healthy Pets: Megaesophagus – The Regurgitation Disease, 10/29/12

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/10/29/megaesophagus-disorder.aspx

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  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

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    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

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    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

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    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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