When your dog vomits, you may simply chalk it up to stomach upset. However, if your pet continues to vomit, you may wonder what is causing their gastric distress. While a multitude of conditions can lead to vomiting, read our Central Houston Animal Hospital team’s five most common reasons why your dog is throwing up. 

#1: Your dog ate something different from their normal diet

Dogs are notorious for eating things they shouldn’t. Whether your pup snagged a chunk of mulch from your yard, ate expired food from the trash, or snuck a few mouthfuls of your cat’s food, ingesting anything out of the ordinary can upset their stomach. Dietary indiscretion is one of acute vomting’s most common causes, which can occur quickly after your dog eats something different from their normal diet. In addition, changing your dog’s diet abruptly can also trigger vomiting, so when feeding a new diet, always introduce the new food gradually. 

#2: Your dog has a foreign object stuck in their gastrointestinal tract

Dogs have a penchant for chewing inedible items for entertainment, and everything from children’s toys to home improvement supplies have become stuck in their gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. Foreign objects that do not break down easily can become lodged in the stomach or intestines, causing your dog to vomit and potentially have diarrhea or constipation. Some common foreign objects retrieved from dogs’ GI tracts include:

  • Bones
  • Food wrappers
  • Rocks
  • Clothing articles
  • Toys’ stuffing or strings 
  • Difficult-to-digest treats (e.g., rawhide, pig ears)

If your dog experiences a GI blockage, your veterinarian should evaluate your pup’s condition as soon as possible. Occasionally, a dog can pass a foreign object with medical assistance, but surgical removal is typically required to extract the item.

#3: Your dog has come in contact with a toxic substance

Toxin exposure is another common cause of dogs’ vomiting. Whether your dog has licked sidewalk salt off their paws after a winter stroll, or has eaten chocolate, grapes, or macadamia nuts, they can ingest enough to experience toxicity. Keep a close eye on your dog when you are using bleach, detergent, disinfectant, insecticides, or other dangerous substances. While not all toxins cause dogs to vomit, GI upset is a common sign. If your dog suddenly begins vomiting, determine whether they have had access to a poisonous substance.

#4: Your dog has an illness or disease

GI upset is common when body systems are not functioning correctly. Illnesses, such as those caused by heatstroke, parasites, or a bacterial infection (i.e., Salmonella or E. coli), can appear with sudden bouts of vomiting. Diseases that cause changes in body systems, such as chronic renal failure or liver disease, can lead to vomiting that waxes and wanes as the disease progresses. If your dog has been vomiting, they may have one of these chronic diseases:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Chronic gastroenteritis 
  • Food allergies and intolerances
  • Pancreatitis
  • Infectious diseases 
  • Metabolic conditions 
  • Endocrine abnormalities 
  • Some cancers

#5: Your dog’s medication is causing adverse side effects

Medication, whether administered as a single dose or daily, can cause your dog to vomit. Some pets are more sensitive to certain medications than others, and your pooch may be unable to tolerate a specific product. Common medication-intolerance examples include parasite preventives and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). If your dog vomits while on medication, contact us for an alternative treatment.

In addition, keep a close eye on your dog while administering their medication. Prevent them from eating pills dropped on the floor, and to help prevent your pup’s overindulgence in beef-flavored heartworm preventive treats, keep all medications out of your four-legged freind’s reach. Accidental veterinary product overdoses are a common toxicity cause. 

When should my vomiting dog visit the veterinarian?

In general, if your dog experiences a single vomiting episode, that is acceptable, but only as long as other illness signs do not accompany the vomiting. Your dog needs veterinary care if they are vomiting and displaying any of the following signs:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Bloody vomit
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Fever

If your dog has no other illness signs but vomits more than once during a 24-hour period or if the vomiting continues for longer than 24 hours, seek veterinary care. However, if your dog is trying to vomit, but cannot, and their stomach appears distended, seek immediate veterinary care. Your dog may have developed a stomach torsion, which is a life-threatening emergency.

When your dog vomits, you may not know whether they need urgent care. Contact our Central Houston Animal Hospital team for help determining the best treatment course.