Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms dogs have. It can be a minor problem or a very significant major problem. As a pet owner, you may not know what to do when this happens, so this article will focus on what you can do for your pet at home.
Here are some of the most common questions pet owners 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. Vomiting can also indicate a systemic problem such as cancer, kidney failure, diabetes and other infectious diseases. For a full list of possible causes, go to Chronic Vomiting in DogsWhat 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, always eliminate the source of the problem.
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.
- Withhold food and water for three to four hours. Oftentimes the stomach lining may be very irritated. Some dogs will want to eat even though their stomach is irritated, 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 ever 20 minutes or so until your pet is hydrated. Don't allow your dog to over-drink as this may lead to more vomiting.
- 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 small amounts at a time. Don't over feed as your dog may eat the entire bowl and vomit again. Feed a meatball-size portion. 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 tolerates.
- 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.
- 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, return to feeding your dog's regular food.
- Leash-walk your pet to allow observation of bowel movements, normal urinations and any additional vomiting that may otherwise occur without your knowledge.
- 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 other physical abnormalities mentioned above, 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 emergency called Bloat. Seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Great Links for More Information
For more details about vomiting, go to Vomiting in Dogs and Chronic Vomiting in Dogs (duration longer than 1 or 2 weeks).
Related topics – go to Acute Diarrhea in Dogs, Vomiting and Diarrhea in Dogs, and Dehydration in Dogs
Disclaimer: Advice given in the Home Care series of articles is not meant to replace 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 pet has a problem, you need answers. Most vets will not give you any information over the phone – they will tell you to bring your pet in for an office visit. So, when these difficult situations arise, many pet 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 series of articles can help guide you so that you will not inadvertently cause harm to your pet. However, this information is not a replacement for veterinary care.