What to do if my Dog Vomits
Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms dogs have. Vomiting can be a minor issue or a very significant major problem. Many dog owners do not know what to do when this happens, so this article will focus on what you can do at home for your dog, and it will also help you decide if you should make a trip to the veterinary clinic, or if the issue will come to pass. If at any time you are not sure, you should always make the trip.
Common questions dog owners will ask about vomiting.
What is vomiting?
Vomiting is the act of expelling contents from the stomach through the mouth.
What causes vomiting?
Vomiting can be caused by a variety of problems including eating too quickly, eating too much, eating something that is not digestible, eating a different type of food, eating spoiled food or eating garbage. Some dogs even vomit from drinking too much water! Vomiting can also indicate a systemic problem such as cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, and other infectious diseases. The best thing to do is to call your veterinarian and have your pet examined.
What can I do at home?
Specific home treatments are dependent on the cause of the vomiting.
Here is the general approach to treat a vomiting dog:
- If your pet vomits once and then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement and is acting playful, then the problem may resolve on its own.
- If you can find any predisposing cause such as exposure to trash, change in diet or eating plants, try to eliminate the source of the problem immediately. Getting rid of the temptation can help to keep your pet from ingesting undesirable items.
In partnership with …
If your dog vomits several times and you cannot take your dog to your veterinarian (which is recommended), then you may try the following:
- Administer only prescribed medications. Please check with your veterinarian before giving ANY medications as some can exacerbate the problem.
- Withhold food and water for three to four hours. Often, the stomach lining may be very irritated. Some dogs will want to eat regardless, and they will continue to vomit. Give the stomach time to rest for a few hours.
- After waiting the three to four hours, if your pet has not vomited, offer small amounts of water (a few tablespoons at a time). Continue to offer small amounts of water every 20 minutes or so until your pet is hydrated. Don’t allow your dog to over-drink as this may lead to more vomiting, and can make dehydration worse. If there has been no vomiting after the small increments of water are offered, then you may gradually offer a bland diet.
- Small frequent feedings of a bland digestible diet such as: Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d, Iams Recovery Diet, Provision EN or Waltham Low Fat are usually recommended. You can make a homemade diet of boiled rice or potatoes (as the carbohydrate source) and lean hamburger, skinless chicken or low-fat cottage cheese (as the protein source). Feed very small amounts at a time. Try not to over feed them as your dog may eat too much and vomit again. Feed a meatball-size portion to start.
- If there is no vomiting, offer a small amount more about one hour later. Give small amounts frequently every three to four hours for the first day. You can gradually increase the amount and decrease the frequency as your dog begins to tolerate it.
- Feed a bland diet for two days, then gradually return to regular dog food over the next one to two days. At first, mix a little of your dog’s regular food into the bland diet. Feed that for one meal. Then feed a 50/50 mix for one meal. Then feed ¾ dog food and ¼ bland diet for a meal. Then, half dog food, half bland diet. Using this gradual progression, return to feeding your dog’s regular food.
- Leash-walk your pet to allow observation of bowel movements, normal urination and any additional vomiting that may otherwise occur without your knowledge.
NOTE: Many veterinarians recommend Pepcid AC® (generic name is Famotidine) to decrease stomach acid. This helps many pets. The dosage most commonly used is 0.25 to 0.5 mg per pound (0.5 to 1.0 mg/kg) every 12 to 24 hours. A 20-pound dog should get about 5 mg to 10 mg total dose once to twice daily. This is an oral medication, which can be found at most pharmacies in the antacid section. Pepcid (Famotidine) does not require a prescription. It is often used for three to five days.
This is important!
If vomiting continues at any time or the onset of other symptoms is noted, call your veterinarian promptly If your pet is not eating, acts lethargic, has continued vomiting or has any physical abnormalities mentioned above, or others it is important to see your veterinarian. Your pet needs your help and the professional care your veterinarian can provide. If your pet is having the clinical signs mentioned above, expect your veterinarian to perform some diagnostic tests and make treatment recommendations. Those recommendations will be dependent upon the severity and nature of the clinical signs.
When is vomiting an emergency?
- If the vomiting continues after your pet eats, or if your pet acts lethargic or doesn’t want to eat, then medical attention is warranted. See your veterinarian.
- If your dog is losing weight, if you see blood in the vomit or if your dog has ineffective vomiting (he is retching but unable to product vomit), this is an important medical emergency. It can be caused by a life-threatening medical emergency called “Bloat”. Seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Disclaimer: Advice given in this article is not meant to replace your veterinary care. When your pet has a problem, it is always best to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. But in some cases, it is not always possible to seek veterinary care. You could be traveling, it could be after hours and there are no 24-hour clinics near you, or maybe you simply can’t afford it.
Whatever the reason, when your dog has a problem, you need answers. Most vets will not give you any information over the phone … they will tell you to bring your dog in for an office visit. So, when these difficult situations arise, many dog owners don’t know what to do … and they end up doing the wrong thing because they don’t have sound veterinary advice. When your pet has a problem and you can’t see your vet, the information in this article can help guide you, so that you will not inadvertently cause harm to your dog. However, this information is not a replacement for veterinary care.