What's causing my dog to be sick?

Sickness in dogs can be caused by anything that irritates the stomach or prevents the contents of the stomach from moving forward along the digestive tract.  It’s typically due to dietary indiscretion, or scavenging.  Other causes can include foreign bodies such as socks or toys, infection and worms.

Various plants, foods and toxins are also poisonous to dogs and can cause them to be sick.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that your dog’s sickness may be down to a more serious issue such as cancer or kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease.

Don’t delay if you’re worried about your dog being sick — call your vet or, out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital.


What will I see?

Dogs tend to drool, lick their lips, and swallow excessively when they feel nauseous. Some may eat grass, possibly to relieve gastric irritation, or to make themselves sick. When your dog is sick you’ll typically see strong abdominal contractions.

Read more: Our in-depth guide on what to do if your pet has been poisoned


What can I do?

If your dog has been sick a few times but otherwise appears well:

  • remove all food and water for two hours
  • after this time, allow your dog to have small amounts of water hourly — a few tablespoons at a time — but withhold food for a further 10 hours
  • if the vomiting has stopped, reintroduce small meals (1-3 tablespoons) of a bland food such as chicken or white fish and rice and pasta every hour or two
  • if no further signs are seen, your pet can return to a normal diet the following day

If your dog continues to be sick, cannot keep water down, has blood or unusual material in his vomit, or is showing other signs such as lethargy, discomfort or bloating, call your vet or, out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital.

You should also seek urgent advice if you have seen him eat something he shouldn’t have such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions or raisins.

Read more: Human foods you should never give your dog

What can I expect when I take my dog to the vet?

Your vet will check your dog over by performing a clinical examination and also ask you questions to see what you have observed at home.

They may also need to perform blood tests, urine tests, x-rays or an ultrasound to work out what is going on.

Treatment will depend on the diagnosis but may include intravenous fluids — a drip — to correct dehydration, antibiotics if an infection is suspected, anti-vomiting medication and stomach protectants. If your vet believes the sickness is being caused by a foreign body, it’s likely surgery will be required.

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Can I prevent my dog from being sick?

Many causes of vomiting cannot be prevented. But by removing potentially harmful foods, bones or objects from your dog’s environment you can help minimise the risk of him swallowing a foreign body or eating something poisonous.  Try not to change your dog’s diet suddenly and try to prevent him scavenging and eating rubbish.

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