Is it normal for dogs to throw up?

Dogs throw up for a variety of reasons. Vomiting is often brought on by a sudden change in diet, through scavenging, such as feeding off human leftovers, or from motion sickness or even eating too much or too quickly. But there are also other more serious reasons for dogs throwing up. These include infection, worms, eating foreign bodies such as socks or toys, or swallowing or licking flowers, plants or toxins that are poisonous to dogs.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that your dog’s sickness may also be down to a more critical medical 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 should I do if my dog's vomiting?

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 this does not solve the sickness problem you should call your vet or, out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital.


What are typical dog sickness symptoms?

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.


Dog vomiting bile, what should I do?

If your dog is vomiting yellow foam, don’t panic. This probably means their stomach is empty of food. Bile is a fluid produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder and released into the intestine when food is eaten. Bile helps dogs break down food. It can, however, leak into the stomach and cause vomiting. The exact cause of this condition — bilious vomiting syndrome — is unknown but it may be solved by feeding your dog the same amount of food, but more frequently. If your dog vomits bile persistently or their sickness is accompanied by other health issues such as diarrhoea, loss of appetite or lethargy, seek urgent advice from your vet.

This is an image of a sick dog for a Vets Now article on what to do if your dog vomiting or dog vomiting bile
You should call your vet if your dog is being sick and showing signs such as lethargy, depression, discomfort or bloating

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When should I call the vet for my dog vomiting?

There are occasions when vomiting requires urgent veterinary attention, such as when your dog is throwing up frequently or is projectile vomiting. You should also seek help if your dog can’t keep water down, is vomiting bile, has blood or unusual material in the vomit, or is showing signs such as lethargy, depression, discomfort or bloating. Other reasons to call a vet include decreased urination, a combination of severe vomiting and diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.

You should also seek urgent advice if you are aware your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions or raisins or is making repeated attempts to throw up but bringing nothing up. This is a symptom of gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat), which can be life-threatening.


Puppy being sick

It’s common for puppies to suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea. Puppies throw up for a variety of reasons, including the stress of rehoming, parasites such as worms and amoebae, bacterial infections, viral infections, and, of course, dietary indiscretion. Similar rules apply to puppies suffering sickness as adult dogs, but be aware that puppies are a lot quicker to become dehydrated. If you have any concerns it’s better to be safe than sorry and get them checked by a veterinary surgeon.


Dog vomiting treatment

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.

How can I prevent my dog 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 them swallowing a foreign body or eating something poisonous. Try not to change your dog’s diet suddenly and try to prevent them scavenging and eating rubbish or leftovers.