A closer look: Vomiting in Dogs
The severity of vomiting varies depending on the root cause.
Most cases of vomiting in young and otherwise healthy dogs is due to consumption of an unusual or poorly tolerated substance. In this case, there are often no other symptoms and the dog recovers spontaneously within 24 hours.Vomiting for more than 24 hours warrants veterinary attention even when no other symptoms are present.
Vomiting accompanied by pale gums, lethargy, collapse, or labored breathing is an emergency regardless of how recently it began. Blood in the vomit doesn’t always indicate an emergency. Small drops or flecks of red blood are usually caused by the act of vomiting itself and do not indicate a more serious underlying disease. Digested blood looks like coffee grounds, so the appearance of a large amount of dark, granular debris in vomited material indicates bleeding from within the stomach. This is not common, but it is an emergency.
Connect with a vet to get more information
Vomiting is associated with every category of disease. Common examples of each category are listed below.
Vomiting is also associated with normal behavior in dogs. Examples include:
- Ingestion of grass
- Overstimulation (excitement)
- Dietary indiscretion
The severity of vomiting ranges widely. It may be acute or chronic, mild or severe, or appear as a single finding or along with other symptoms. All dogs have bouts of vomiting from time to time, and most dogs will develop conditions which are associated with vomiting as they age.The seriousness of vomiting depends on the presence of other symptoms and whether the vomiting resolves quickly on its own.
Testing and diagnosis
In cases where investigation of vomiting is warranted, a physical examination and pet history is taken first followed by a number of tests to determine the cause of the vomiting, including:
- Blood work
- Imaging (x rays, CT scan, MRI, ultrasounds)
- Urine/fecal analysis
- Endoscopic evaluation
- Biopsies (stomach, intestines)
Treatment varies widely based on the diagnosis. Mild, acute vomiting is generally treated by addressing the symptoms with anti-nausea medications, IV fluids, and nutritional therapy. Specific therapy targets the underlying cause. Some conditions that cause vomiting are fatal, so palliative care may be part of the plan.
Note that dry heaves in dogs is most commonly associated with gastric dilatation/volvulus (GDV). GDV is rapidly fatal and a very serious emergency requiring quick treatment.
Vomiting is associated with all disease categories, and is commonly observed alongside other general symptoms of illness.