Why Is My Dog Throwing Up?

Julie Unger
My Dog Is Throwing Up

Vomit is gross, smelly, and messy. But it’s normal … and it’s a fact of life when you live with a dog. It’s bound to happen, eventually. And you’ll be the one to clean it up.

Vomiting in dogs can be distressing … for you and your dog. But it’s important to figure out why your dog is vomiting, and then decide what (if anything) you need to do about it.

Why Is Your Dog Throwing Up?

There are three types of dog vomit:

  1. Vomiting undigested food or water (this is regurgitation)
  2. Vomiting digested food (this is normal vomit)
  3. Vomiting yellow bile

1. What Is Regurgitation?

When your dog’s undigested food comes back up from his esophagus, that’s regurgitation. The mostly undigested food may be covered in mucus. Some dogs will also regurgitate water if they drink too fast or too much at a time.

It doesn’t involve heaving like vomiting does … and your dog will probably just eat that food a second time. This allows him to break down his food into smaller, more digestible pieces.

This typically happens with kibble-fed dogs. Dogs who eat raw rarely regurgitate their food.

2. Why Your Dog Vomits Digested Food

A vomiting episode will typically happen when a dog’s body is trying to get rid of a toxic substance or foreign body (aka “dietary indiscretion”). 

Your dog may vomit because he ate something bad. Or he could have a parasite, be feeling stressed, or having a reaction to a drug. Or it could be a food allergy or sensitivity, or an organ malfunction.

Because dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans, they can vomit faster, and more easily, than humans do.

Sometimes your dog will vomit once, and everything is back to normal. Then you don’t need to do anything. His body solved its own problem. But, if your dog continues to vomit many times over a 24-hour period, you’ll need to make sure he doesn’t get dehydrated. 

Before your dog vomits, you may see signs of nausea, like drooling, odd facial expressions, pacing or lip-smacking. That might be your cue to get him outdoors (and off your rug). But if he’s just feeling queasy, a little ginger or fennel tea might help (recipes below). 

Home Remedies For Dog Vomiting

Fast Your Dog

First, give your dog’s digestive system a break. Don’t feed him for at least 6 to 8 hours, and then start off with some bone broth. Bone broth is easy to make.

Bone Broth Recipe For Dogs

  • Fill a large soup pot or crockpot with any kind of bones (chicken, turkey, beef, etc)
  • Add water to cover about 2-3 inches above the bones 
  • Add 2-4 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to help draw more gelatin and minerals out of the bones, 
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer for 24 hours (or longer). 
  • Cool and strain and give your dog a few tablespoons to start.  If he keeps it down, keep giving small amounts every hour. After 12-24 hours you can start to add some lightly steamed meat to the broth, before gradually transitioning to small amounts of your dog’s normal diet. 

Caution: Don’t fast puppies under 6 months old. 

Herbal Remedies for Nausea And Vomiting

You can also give your dog herbs to ease vomiting. Ginger and fennel can relieve nausea.

To make ginger tea, chop up 1 tbsp of fresh ginger root. Infuse it in 1 cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Let it cool, strain, and give your dog 1 tsp for every 15 lbs of body weight.

To make a fennel infusion, use 1 tsp of ground fennel seeds with one cup of almost boiling water. After steeping, give 1 tsp of the liquid for every 15 lbs of body weight.

If neither of these herbs helps, you can try chamomile or peppermint. Steep 1 tbsp of either herb in 1 cup of almost boiling water, cool, strain, and give 1 tsp for every 15 lbs of body weight.

When To Go To The Vet For Vomiting

Poisoning: If you think your dog ate something toxic (household cleaners, pesticides, xylitol, chocolate, gum, toothpaste, toxic plants, antifreeze, etc.), and is showing symptoms of poisoning (vomiting, hives, loss of muscle control, diarrhea, foaming at the mouth, convulsions), call your veterinarian immediately.

Obstruction: If your dog is vomiting and also constipated, he may have an obstruction. (You may see him get restless, shake, pant excessively, vomit unproductively) If your dog is projectile vomiting, that can be a sign of a blockage.

Blood in vomit: If your dog is vomiting blood, you need to take him to the vet. This is not common.

Vomiting feces: If your dog isn’t a poop eater and vomits feces, then there might be a complete blockage of the large intestine. If he is a poop eater, then he’s likely vomiting another dog’s poop and you shouldn’t worry.            

Bloat: If you suspect your dog has bloat or torsion, it is crucial to go to the emergency veterinarian immediately. Bloat closes the esophagus, and gas and fluid get trapped in the stomach and bloat can be deadly in just a few hours. Large deep-chested breeds are more prone to bloat, but any dog who eats too much, or drinks too much, or exercises vigorously after eating can be at risk.

Other signs your dog may need veterinary care include continued or chronic vomiting, lethargy, or loss of appetite.

3. Why Do Dogs Vomit Bile?

The most common type of throw-up is bile or bile reflux, which is green or yellow in color and typically doesn’t have any smell. It may be gooey, full of mucus, or foamy and air-filled.

Bile originates in the gallbladder and liver. It helps your dog break down nutrients in the small intestine. Bile helps prepare for digestion, but sometimes it can build up, then your dog will vomit a yellow puddle of bile.

The main reason for dogs throwing up bile is intestinal inflammation that causes him to vomit bile when his stomach is empty. So he may throw up bile overnight or early in the morning. The solution for this is to give him a snack at bedtime. You can also feed him smaller meals more often.

Kibble-fed dogs also vomit bile because the starchy food causes them to produce too much stomach acid. The best solution is to switch your dog to a raw, whole food, fresh diet. But if that’s not possible, feed your dog three to four small meals throughout the day.

Solutions For Bile Vomit

If your dog is vomiting yellow bile, these herbal solutions can help …

  • Marshmallow root: Give marshmallow root capsules with food twice daily (1/2 capsule for small dogs, 1 capsule for medium to large dogs, 3 capsules for extra large dogs)
  • Licorice root: Give a licorice glycerin extract twice daily on an empty stomach for 1-10 days when your dog is bile vomiting (3 drops for extra small dogs, 5 drops for small dogs, 8 drops for medium dogs, 12 drops for large dogs, and 15 drops for extra large dogs)

When To Worry About Bile Vomit

Bile vomit is common. But, sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious.

Blockage: if your dog has constipation as well as vomiting, he could have an intestinal blockage. If he can’t keep fluids down or has constipation, see your veterinarian right away.

Bloat: This is a dangerous condition (also called gastric dilatation and volvulus), where the stomach fills with gas and twists around. If your dog has any of the following symptoms, he needs to go to the veterinarian immediately. Bloat can be deadly for your dog. 

  • Restlessmess and distress
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargic
  • Tight stomach
  • Drooling
  • Trying to vomit and nothing coming out
  • Vomiting yellow or white foam

Pancreatitis: If your dog is also lethargic, has spasms, diarrhea or abdominal pain, and reduced appetite, he could have pancreatitis. If you suspect acute pancreatitis, take your dog to the vet. 

But, if your dog vomits yellow bile without any of the symptoms above, it’s usually nothing to worry about.

Track Your Dog’s Vomiting

If your dog has frequent vomiting, it’s a great idea to keep a journal or diary to find patterns or triggers. Keep a record of the time he vomited, how often, what and when your dog last ate. Write down any other symptoms as well.

Also … take a picture of your dog’s vomit. This can give you something to show your veterinarian, and also, give you a visual to compare with other vomiting episodes.

Dog vomiting is often harmless … but now you know what to look for if vomiting becomes a regular problem for your dog.

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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.