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Vomiting in Dogs

Dogs may vomit for a range of reasons, and many a pet owner has wondered how to induce vomiting. Here, our Seattle vets discuss what you should know about vomiting in dogs and what to do if your dog is vomiting. 

Why Dogs Vomit

If your dog is vomiting, you can be sure their stomach is irritated and intestines are inflamed, or that they are experiencing gastrointestinal upset. 

Almost every seasoned dog owner has had the displeasure and concern of watching their dog get sick, but everyone should understand that vomiting in dogs is their way of emptying the stomach of material that's indigestible to prevent it from remaining in their system, or from reaching other areas of the body. 

Causes of Vomiting in Dogs 

Several things may cause a dog to vomit, and sometimes even healthy dogs can become sick for no apparent reason but then quickly recover. 

It's possible that your pup could have eaten something their stomach simply doesn't agree with, or perhaps they ate too quickly or dined on too much grass that day. This type of vomiting may happen once and not be accompanied by any other symptoms. 

So, vomiting in dogs isn't always cause for great concern. 

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

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

When to Worry About Vomiting in Dogs

You may have reason to be concerned and your dog's vomiting may be a serious veterinary emergency if you notice any of these signs:

  • Continuous vomiting
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Vomiting in conjunction with other symptoms such as anemia, weight loss, fever, lethargy, etc. 
  • Vomiting blood
  • Bloody diarrhea 
  • Vomiting a lot at one time 
  • Vomiting with nothing coming up 
  • Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as children's toy, food, object, etc.)
  • Seizures

At Aurora Veterinary Hospital, we typically refer urgent care to local emergency facilities who are equipped to support the needs of Seattle cats and dogs.

Chronic Vomiting

Has your dog been vomiting frequently or has this progressed to a long-term or chronic issue? This is also reason to be concerned, especially if you've been seeing symptoms such as poor appetite, fever, bleeding, weakness, weight loss, dehydration, depression, pain, or unusual behaviors.

Vomiting and diarrhea in dogs also often causes pet owners much concern and is a good reason to contact your vet to book an exam, so a proper diagnosis can be provided. 

Long-term, recurrent vomiting may be caused by:

  • Constipation
  • Colitis
  • Cancer
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Uterine infection 
  • Intestinal obstruction 

We advise cautious pet owners to put safety first when it comes to their dog's health. The best way to find out whether your dog's vomiting is normal or not is to contact your vet. 

What To Do If Your Dog Won't Stop Vomiting

Your veterinarian will need your help to find the cause of the vomiting based on your pup's medical history and recent activities. For example, if your dog has been curiously exploring the kids’ rooms or you’ve caught him sniffing the refrigerator, it’s possible he could have gotten into something he shouldn’t have.

How to Induce Vomiting in Dogs

Panicked owners often find themselves searching "how to induce vomiting in dogs". Toxins cause gastrointestinal upset, but can also do serious damage when they are absorbed into the bloodstream as they get into the tissues. With decontamination, the goal is to eliminate the toxin from the body before it’s absorbed. If vomiting can be induced before the intestines absorb the toxin, toxicity may be prevented.

That said, dog owners should know that inducing vomiting at home is not advised except under extreme circumstances!

In addition, this should always be done under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Before taking this action, call your primary veterinarian or a veterinary poison control center for advice. 

Deciding whether your pooch should be induced at home depends on what and how much your dog has consumed, and how much time has passed - there's a chance that the substance or amount consumed wasn't toxic, so inducing vomiting wouldn't be necessary.

Though vomiting can safely bring most toxins up, a few will cause more damage if they pass through the esophagus a second time by moving through the GI tract. These include bleach, cleaning products and other caustic chemicals and petroleum-based products.

Also, if 3% hydrogen peroxide (the only safe home substance that can be used to induce vomiting in dogs) is incorrectly administered, it can enter the lungs and cause significant problems such as pneumonia. 

If your dog has a pre-existing health condition or there are other symptoms, inducing vomiting may result in other health risks. If induced vomiting is necessary, having a qualified veterinarian induce vomiting in-clinic is preferable. 

When Not to Induce Vomiting

Vomiting should never be induced in a dog that is:

  • Having a seizure or recently had a seizure
  • Lethargic
  • Unresponsive or unconscious
  • Already vomiting

Note: Hydrogen peroxide should not be used to induce vomiting in cats, as it is too irritating to kitties' stomachs and can cause issues with the esophagus.

How Veterinarians Induce Vomiting in Dogs

A veterinarian at a local emergency animal clinic can examine your pooch to determine whether inducing vomiting is safe for your pet. If it's determined that this action should be taken, special medication with minimal side effects is used (as opposed to hydrogen peroxide). If your dog does experience any side effects, they will be equipped to administer proper care and medication.

How to Settle a Dog's Upset Stomach

There are a couple of ways to settle a dog's upset stomach. The course of action your veterinarian will recommend may depend on a few factors, including whether the vomiting is occasional and infrequent or severe. 

For Occasional or Infrequent Vomiting

Withhold food for 12 hours. You can provide your dog up to 3 tablespoons of water every 30 minutes or give them ice cubes in the meantime. 

After 12 hours, reintroduce a water bowl and begin feeding your pooch a few teaspoons of bland food. If they keep this down, feed them a little every hour or two. 

If the vomiting stops, you can start to feed them as usual the next day. 

For Severe Vomiting

Severe vomiting is classified as two or more episodes in 24 hours. Remove any food that your dog can get into. Inspect your pup for signs of dehydration or shock, including pale gums and skin and abnormal disposition, then call your veterinarian. 

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

Immediately contact your veterinarian or Poison Control. This is the best thing you can do after your pet ingests a toxin. This way, our Tucson emergency vets can immediately provide advice about whether you should bring your pet in, or if they think you can or should induce vomiting at home.

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.

Are you concerned about your dog's vomiting? Contact our vets at Aurora Veterinary Hospital today for advice on whether we recommend booking an exam or visiting a local emergency animal clinic. 

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