When your dog’s digestive system malfunctions it can happen quickly or over a slow period of time.
And when it does we usually see symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
When my dog is about to vomit he always makes a certain face with flat-lined lips and squinty eyes. I have about 30 seconds to get him outside.
Dog vomiting isn’t pleasant for anyone. Do you know why your dog is vomiting and what you can do about it?
By the end of this article you will.
Regurgitation or Vomiting
To treat dog vomiting, you need to know the difference between vomiting and regurgitation.
Regurgitation is when undigested food comes back up into the mouth from the esophagus. This happens when food is too large for deposit into the stomach.
If your dog regurgitates, you’ll notice undigested food mostly covered in mucus. Regurgitation doesn’t involve the stiff-legged heaving that vomiting does. It’s quick and unfortunately usually involves your dog eating the food a second time.
Sure, this is gross, but it’s also completely normal.
Regurgitation provides another opportunity to crush food into smaller pieces.
Regurgitated food rarely smells unless your dog is eating kibble. Kibble fed dogs tend to regurgitate and vomit much more than raw fed dogs. This is because many brands of kibble contain rancid ingredients covered up with masking chemicals.
So, the main difference is that the purpose of regurgitation is an adjustment and the purpose of vomiting is to get rid of toxic material.
Vomiting comes from the stomach and the upper intestines. It usually has a unique texture, color and smell.
If you’re like me, you’ll do just about anything to keep yourself from vomiting. This isn’t the case for your dog. It comes naturally to her.
Usually just before your dog vomits you’ll see signs of nausea. These typically include:
- Excessive drooling
- Smacking of lips
- Odd facial expressions
When nausea is just nausea or when accompanied by mild vomiting, you can use herbs in various forms known as antiemetics.
Two herbs that work quickly for nausea are ginger and fennel.
- Ginger is warming and moves energy in the body upwards and outwards. I like to use ginger for dogs who are energetically cool, thin in stature with a love for warm places. When using ginger, use 1 tbsp of fresh ginger root. Slice and chop it and infuse it in 1 cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Let it cool and give by the teaspoon full. Give your dog 1 tsp for every 15 lbs of body weight.
- Fennel is good for more rotund dogs who seek out cool places and may have a difficult time regulating body temperature. Make an infusion of 1 tsp of ground fennel seeds and 1 cup water at the first sign of nausea. Let it steep for 20 minutes covered in almost boiling water and give 1 tsp for every 15 lbs of body weight.
Two more herbs for nausea are chamomile and peppermint. Chamomile is slightly warming and moist. Peppermint is cooling and dry. Both are anti-spasmodic so they’ll soothe the digestive tract and help relieve nausea. You can use infusions of both using 1 tbsp of either in 1 cup of almost boiling water. Let cool and give 1 tsp for every 15 lbs of body weight.
Vomitus Eruptus (AKA Dog Vomiting)
Normal vomit consists of bile (yellow slime), mostly digested food, and foam. It originates from the stomach and small intestine.
Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than us. This allows them to expel toxins at a much faster rate than we do and with a lot less drama.
Dog vomiting can either be acute or chronic. There are a few reasons for most cases of vomit:
- Ingesting something
- A food allergy or sensitivity
- Reaction to a drug
- An organ malfunction
Sometimes one bout of vomiting is all it takes and your dog will be back to normal. Other times it’s continuous.
Continuous vomiting occurs many times over a 24-hour period. It’s usually caused by inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. This type of vomiting is often diagnosed as “acute gastritis” and has an unknown origin.
But you can usually tell when it’s happening.
Your dog will brace four-on-the-floor and be hacking. The vomit is usually yellow or brown and semi-transparent in color and hard to pick up. If the vomit consists of full pieces of food then it hasn’t been in the stomach long. This is normal when dogs eat too quickly or have too much activity after eating.
With continuous vomiting, fluids are important. You need to be careful of rapid dehydration and depletion of body salts.
Puppies and older dogs are especially susceptible to dehydration due to continuous vomiting. Lethargy, glazed over eyes, and dry gums are all signs that fluids need to be replaced. If the vomiting goes on too long, your dog may need emergency IV fluids to help until the stomach settles.
You can use chamomile, fennel, ginger or peppermint to help with the nausea. You can also try a mixture of chamomile, marshmallow root and dandelion.
- Combine equal parts chamomile, marshmallow root and dandelion tinctures.
- Dissolve them together in a small amount of warm water.
- Give 3 drops in the mouth for every 5 lbs of body weight. Do this 2-3 times per day.
When chronic vomiting occurs it’s important to rule out serious conditions like kidney and liver disease as well as tumors. Most dogs with chronic vomiting have a depletion of hydrochloric acid. They probably aren’t absorbing nutrients very well either. Food sensitivities, decreased beneficial bacteria, household and environmental allergens may all cause chronic vomiting.
Other Reasons Your Dog May Be Vomiting
There are several other reasons your dog may be vomiting.
#1 Vomiting water occurs when dogs drink too fast or when there’s too much moisture in the system.
#2 Bile based vomiting is usually associated with an empty stomach. It’s often accompanied by lip smacking, eating dirt or an abdomen that’s sensitive to the touch. Usually when this happens, the spleen and pancreas can get over stimulated and cause indigestion, burping and burning in the stomach. You’ll usually see this vomiting first thing in the morning or the middle of the night. I’ve found that feeding a small amount of food before bed helps stop this type of vomiting. Reach for chamomile and crab apple flower essence if this happens to your dog. Mix 1 tbsp in 1 cup of hot water, let it cool, then add in 10 drops of crab apple. Give 1 tsp for every 15 lbs of body weight.
#3 Some dogs vomit due to a nervous or what I call “emotional” stomach. This can indicate a depleted microbiome, so use probiotic treatments to help treat inflammation in the gut. Probiotic strains like Lactobacillus planetarum can help decrease food sensitivity and intestinal inflammation. You can also calm your nervous pup with catnip. This will treat and balance the nervous system and the stomach. To do this, use a tincture of catnip using 15 drops in 1 ounce of filtered water. You can also infuse 1 tbsp with 1 cup of almost boiling water. Give 1 tsp for every 15 lbs of body weight, 2-3 times a day.
#4 Vomiting undigested food. For dogs vomiting undigested food, make sure they’re getting digestive enzymes. Give dandelion tincture or add ground dandelion to food to stimulate digestion. If giving tincture of dandelion, give 3 drops in the mouth before eating. You can also try dissolving it in a bit of water. This will help the gallbladder secrete bile for digesting fats.
#5 Motion sickness. For dogs who get nauseous or vomit while riding in the car, powered ginger can calm the gut. Give it 30 to 40 minutes before your trip.
- For small dogs give approx. 300 mg.
- For medium dogs give about 400 mg.
- For large and giant breeds give about 500mg.
Make sure you use vegetable capsules instead of gelatin capsules or the pill may not dissolve quick enough.
Animal Herbalist Cat Lane recommends powdered ginger in half ratio with powdered chamomile in raw honey for those dogs that have a hard time ingesting liquids or capsules. Give 1/8 tsp dissolved in a bit of honey for each 15 lbs of bodyweight.
Homeopathy for Nausea And Vomiting
Homeopathy is also helpful for dealing with dog vomiting.
- For severe nausea with excessive drooling, swallowing or nervous movements, and a disinterest in food or water, try Ipecac root. Use the 6x or 30c potency.
- Nux Vomica in the 6x or 30c potency can be used for dogs that are heaving and vomiting or nauseous from inhaling their food.
- Pulsatilla 6 or 30c is useful for dogs vomiting undigested food particles. Dose 1 time or speak to your homeopathic vet before dosing again.
To give your dog one of these remedies place 1-3 pellets in a glass bottle. Fill the bottle almost full with water and strike it against your palm 20 to 30 times.
A dose is a single drop in your dog’s mouth. An easy way to do this is to pull your dog’s lower lip out near the corner of his mouth, then squeeze the remedy onto his gums.
A few drops given at one time is still a single dose, so don’t worry if you accidentally empty a full dropper into your dog’s mouth. As long as some ends up in your dog’s mouth, you’ve given the remedy.
Let Your Dog’s Stomach Rest
When your dog vomits, you might worry that she’s hungry. Because of this, it may be tempting to feed small meals and wait to see if she’ll vomit again.
This is a mistake.
Resting the digestive tract is important when your dog is vomiting. I usually recommend withholding food for at least six to eight hours (don’t fast puppies though). Depending on the situation you can also try herbs, a homeopathic medicine like Nux vomica or small amounts of bone broth. Usually I’ll wait until the next morning to reassess the situation.
When feeding broth, give small amounts:
- 1-2 tbsp for toy to small breeds
- 1-2 ounces for medium dogs
- 4-6 ounces for large dogs
- 8 ounces for giant breeds
I do this every hour or so if they are able to keep it down.
If your dog can’t keep broth down, wait 4-5 hours and try again.
After 12-24 hours of being able to keep liquids down, you can reintroduce solid food. Do this by giving her small amounts of lightly steamed protein and more broth. If all goes well, I give a smaller amount of my dog’s normal diet and take it from there. I also recommend giving food warm due to the weakened condition of the spleen.
Herbs can assist you and help pinpoint what is going on with your dog by the way they respond to home treatment. When you combine your dog’s behavior with herbs and vomiting, determining an emergency is much easier.
When To See A Vet
There are certain situations when dog vomiting should mean a trip to the emergency clinic.
Poisoning is the number one reason dog owners seek veterinary attention when dogs vomit.
Symptoms of poisoning can include:
- Foaming at the mouth
- Loss of muscle control
Some examples of common poisons are:
- Household cleaners
- Toxic household plants like mother’s tongue and Easter lily.
If you suspect poisoning, contact the nearest emergency vet straight away. Don’t induce vomiting unless you’re sure what your dog ingested. In some cases making your dog vomit can make matters worse.
Another reason for dog vomiting can be kidney failure. If you have a kidney compromised dog or a dog with renal failure, always see a vet when vomiting occurs.
Vomiting accompanied by constipation can be a sign of an obstruction. Look for signs of:
- Unproductive vomiting
- Blood in the stool
- Excessive panting
When a foreign object stays in the stomach too long and can’t pass through the digestive system, it will cause moderate to severe indigestion until your dog vomits.
Forceful vomiting (projectile vomiting) can mean that something more serious is going on inside your dog’s intestines. This may be something like a blockage caused by objects like tumors, pieces of undigested food, raw hide bones, toys, socks, other non-food objects and severe scar tissue.
Vomiting blood is uncommon and should always warrant a trip to the vet. Obstructions, ulcers, pharmaceuticals, bleeding ulcers, parasites, severe bacterial infections, malignant and benign tumors and damage to the stomach or intestines can cause bloody vomit.
Some dogs vomit feces, and this is usually caused by eating other dogs’ poop. If your dog isn’t a poop eater though, then it usually indicates a complete blockage of the large intestine.
Lastly, vomiting is one of the symptoms of the often deadly condition called bloat or torsion. Bloat closes the esophagus and gas and fluid get trapped in the stomach.
Bloat can affect any dog but it’s more common in deep chested breeds like Great Danes, Doberman Pinchers and Boxers. Dogs who eat too much at one time or overeat, drink too much water or exercise immediately after eating can be at risk.
There are many theories of why bloat happens but it’s unclear what exactly causes it. Along with unproductive vomit, usually white and foamy, dogs can have a distended abdomen, restlessness, shaking, drooling and sometimes crying out.
Time is crucial when it comes to bloat so if you suspect anything go to the vet emergency clinic immediately.
Common sense is also needed when dealing with at-home care and vomiting. If your dog is lethargic, can’t keep liquids down, isn’t eating or drinking and you’ve tried multiple remedies, don’t delay. Go to the vet.
Sometimes dog vomiting is normal and is just your dog’s way of clearing the way. Other times it can be more serious and warrant a little extra attention. To be sure, just observe your dog carefully and do what your instinct tells you is best.