Vomiting Dogs: How to Help

The most common cause of vomiting in dogs is “dietary indiscretion”.  This is essentially a polite way of saying he/she ate something that upset his/her stomach.  It has always fascinated me what a dog will choose to eat: dog food, human food, cat food, cat litter, toys, bones, underwear, dirty socks, used tampons, dirty diapers, garbage, road-kill, POOP! the list goes on and on.  They can also get sick if they eat too fast, have a sudden change in diet, or have an allergy to a particular ingredient in a new diet or treat. Also, as in people, the can have nausea and vomiting as a side effect to medications. If your dog is vomiting but still behaving normally, then you can try these methods at home first:

  • Take away all food and water from your dog for 6-12 hours.
    • If your dog continues to vomit, call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment.
    • If your dog has stopped vomiting, start the following protocol:
      • Offer a small amount of water or oral rehydration solution (ie: Pedialyte, Gatorade, ect).  1 teaspoon for small dogs and 1 tablespoon for large dogs.  If your pet won’t drink the liquid, use a syringe to squirt it in the ‘cheek pouch’ and tip the head back a bit to get them to swallow.
      • If after 15-30 minutes, he/she has kept it down, offer the same amount again.
        • If you dog vomited this up, stop the fluids and call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment.
      • If you dog continues to keep down the fluids, continue to offer them every 15-30 minutes, but increase the amount by 50% each time.
      • If 6-12 hours have passed since starting the fluids and your dog has kept everything down, you can start to offer a ‘bland diet’.  This can either be commercially made diet from your vet (Royal Canin GI, or Hill’s i/d, or Purina EN), or you can cook 3 parts white rice to 1 part lean protein (boiled chicken, boiled extra-lean hamburg, cottage cheese).  DO NOT add any seasoning to this mix and allow cooling before feeding.
        • Offer 1tsp of the mix to small dogs and 1 tbsp for large dogs.
        • If after 15-30 minutes, he/she has kept it down, double the amount and offer every 1-2 hours as long and he/she doesn’t vomit.
          • If at any point he/she vomits again, please discontinue food and water and call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment.
        • If after 6-12 hours your dog continues to eat well, feed larger, less frequent meals (ie only every 4-6 hours).
        • If 48-72 hours have passed and your dog has not vomited again, you can gradually re-introduce their regular diet over the course of a few days.

Though “garbage-gut” can be a cause of a lot of dogs’ vomiting, it is definitely not the only cause.  Vomiting is a vague symptom and can be a sign of infections, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, obstruction (ie: dog swallows whole ball, toy, socks, bone, ect and it gets stuck), or parasites.  It can also be a sign of organ dysfunction, such as liver or kidney failure, or even cancer.  If your dog does not stop vomiting within a day or two, or if he/she develops a fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dehydration, or starts to vomit blood, it is important to make an appointment with our Riverview veterinarians so they can determine the underlying cause (with the help of a physical examination, blood and urine tests, X-rays, Ultrasound, ect) and provide effective treatment.