Vomiting occurs often in dogs. You may discover that it's tricky to find the correct cause among many possibilities, ranging from relatively harmless to potentially fatal. You need to consider several potential factors, including frequency, severity and the presence of additional symptoms.
Vomiting can be an isolated incident. Your dog may have eaten too fast or taken in too much food at once. If your dog’s appetite, bowel movements and energy level seem normal after vomiting, you have no need for concern. Giving your dog smaller amounts of food two or three times a day instead of one big meal can help prevent this problem.
If your dog vomits frequently and severely, a foreign object could be the culprit. If your dog avidly chews random objects or likes to dig through the garbage, he might have swallowed something that caused intestinal obstruction. Your vet will be able to conduct X-rays to confirm if there is a blockage. Choose your dog’s toys carefully to prevent another occurrence, avoiding those that can be broken into smaller pieces easily. Keep your garbage cans securely closed if possible and in an area that your dog does not have access to.
Chronic or recurring cases of vomiting, even if these are infrequent, may indicate that a dog suffers from a serious medical condition such as acute kidney failure, stomach cancer and liver disease. Tell your vet if your dog has had any other symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea or dehydration. Also let her know if your dog’s appetite, thirst and frequency of urination have changed. This will help your vet make a more accurate diagnosis.
The form of treatment used for vomiting depends on the cause. For a mild upset stomach, you can use home remedies. Feeding your dog bland, starchy foods such as rice or boiled potatoes can help relieve nausea. If your dog suffers from a bacterial or viral infection, he might need to take antibiotics. For diseases such as cancer, more complex treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery are involved. If a foreign object causes your dog to vomit, he may require immediate surgery to remove the obstruction. Dietary changes can help treat conditions such as kidney failure and pancreatitis.
Dry heaves, characterized by continuous retching with little to no food coming up, pose a life-threatening medical emergency to your dog. Unsuccessful vomiting, pale gums, a distended abdomen and weakness are all symptoms of bloat, which occurs when too much air, along with food and fluid in some cases, causes the stomach to swell up. The stomach then twists, cutting off blood supply to vital organs and resulting in extreme pain. Bloat requires immediate medical attention and can be fatal in a matter of hours if left untreated.