It’s never nice to see your dog feeling unwell or being sick – and unfortunately there are lots of different causes of vomiting in dogs. If your dog has been sick and you are concerned, then please give us a call for advice.
Generally mild cases of vomiting will improve in 12-24 hours, but persistent vomiting can be a symptom of something more serious. If your dog (particularly a large breed) is trying to vomit or retch and is not bringing anything up, or they have a bloated stomach, contact us immediately – this can be a symptom of Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (twisted stomach) which can be life threatening.
Signs that your dog may be feeling sick include:
- Reduced appetite
- Lip licking or smacking their lips together
- Swallowing excessively
- Change in behaviour, or becoming restless
- Vomit – this may be food or liquid, with or without bile or blood
Causes of vomiting can include (but not limited to):
- Gastritis/gastroenteritis (the most common cause, also known as “dietary indiscretion” – in other words, eating something nasty!)
- Foreign body (if your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have which is causing a blockage in their guts)
- Parvovirus (mainly puppies, but also unvaccinated older dogs)
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Pyometra (entire female dogs)
- Organ failure eg liver disease, kidney failure
- Stomach ulcers
- Side effects of some medications
- Vestibular disease
As you can see, a whole host of conditions can cause vomiting. Your vet will be able to do a full thorough clinical examination, take an in depth history from you and run some diagnostic tests to narrow down the likely cause of sickness in your dog. Other factors such as their age, neuter status, vaccination history, diet, and current medications they are taking will be taken into account. Diagnostic tests may include: an abdominal x-ray to check for any foreign bodies/blockages, a general health-screen blood test to check organ function, urine sample, and a blood test for pancreatitis.
What to do if your dog is vomiting?
If your dog is very bright in himself and has just vomited once then it may be sensible to monitor them at home initially. In this case, to give their tummy a rest, we suggest starving for a short period (around 12 hours) – they should always have access to water though. It is recommended to feed a bland meal for a couple of days, for example boiled chicken or rice, or pop in and grab a tin of some digestible sensitive tummy food from us. Smaller, more frequent meals are best.
If they show any sign of deterioration or continue to vomit then bring them in for a check up. Also, if they develop any other symptoms (especially if they don’t immediately seem related to their stomach problem) then give us a call for advice.
Signs that you should contact us straight away include:
- Trying to vomit or retching but unable to bring anything up
- Swelling or bloating of their tummy
- Painful abdomen
- Blood or brown ‘coffee grounds’ in the vomit, or black tarry faeces
- Vomiting for over 24 hours (sooner in puppies as they dehydrate quicker)
- Being unable to drink or to keep water down
The treatment very much depends on what the cause of the vomiting is. If diagnostic tests show evidence of a blockage then it’s likely surgery may be indicated to remove it. Depending where the blockage is in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, it may be able to be removed via endoscopy.
Prolonged vomiting (and the concurrent lack of appetite) can cause dehydration, through loss of fluids and reduced intake. If your dog has been vomiting for over 24 hours, has concurrent diarrhoea, is particularly young or old, then it is likely they will need to be hospitalised and placed on intravenous fluids to correct their dehydration and tackle any electrolyte imbalances caused by the vomiting. Supportive care in the form of anti sickness medication and gastroprotectants may be given. Sometimes it can take a few days for your dog to start feeling better.