Overview of Vomiting in Dogs
At one time or another your dog may have a bout of vomiting. Usually he’ll have eaten something disagreeable, eaten too much or too fast, exercised too soon after eating or any number of non-serious conditions. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem. Or it may be a sign of something very serious.
Vomiting (emesis) is the act of expelling contents from the stomach through the mouth. It’s a reflex act, involving a triggering stimulus (such as inflammation of the stomach), the central nervous system and abdominal muscles that work together to expel the contents from the stomach. There are multiple causes of vomiting. An occasional, infrequent isolated episode of vomiting is usually normal.
Vomiting is a symptom that can be caused by disorders of the gastrointestinal system (stomach and/or intestines) or it can be secondary to a disease from a different system (such as from cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, or infectious diseases). This can make the diagnosis of the cause of the vomiting a challenge.
Vomiting can be defined as acute (sudden onset) or chronic (longer duration of one to two weeks). The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine the recommendation of specific diagnostic tests. Important considerations include monitoring the duration and frequency of the vomiting. If your pet vomits once 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 the vomiting continues after your pet eats or if your pet acts lethargic, or doesn’t want to eat, then medical attention is warranted.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Vomiting in Dogs
Optimal therapy of any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. There are numerous potential causes of vomiting and before any treatment can be recommended, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Initial therapy should be aimed at the underlying cause. Tests may include:
Treatment of Vomiting in Dogs
Treatments for vomiting may include one or more of the following:
Home Care and Prevention
Follow-up with your veterinarian for re-examinations of your pet as recommended and administer any veterinary prescribed medications. If your pet experiences inadequate response to prior measures, a further workup may be indicated to determine the underlying cause of the vomiting.
Treatments of vomiting are dependent on the cause. Symptomatic therapy of an episode of vomiting includes withholding food and water for three to four hours. If your pet has not vomited by the end of this time, 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.
After the small increments of water are offered, 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. Homemade diets can be made of boiled rice or potatoes (as the carbohydrate source) and lean hamburger, skinless chicken or low-fat cottage cheese (as the protein source).
Return to regular dog food should be gradual over one to two days. If vomiting continues at any time or the onset of other symptoms are noted, call your veterinarian promptly.
If your pet is not eating, acts lethargic, the vomiting continues or any other physical abnormalities mentioned above begins, 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. Recommendations will be dependent upon the severity and nature of the clinical signs.
Prevention is aimed at minimizing your pet’s exposure to trash (bones, food products), foreign material (socks, strings, etc) or toxins. Leash-walk your pet to minimize exposure to foreign material that may be located outside. Monitor your pet’s appetite and general health, as well.