Dog Vomiting

Vomiting is a very common symptom in dogs, it is caused by many different factors, some will be self-limiting and not warrant veterinary attention, others being potentially fatal.

Probably the most common is dietary indiscretion such as picking up a mouldy sandwich on a walk or raiding the bins at home for any dinner leftovers. Generally, this will cause a minor problem that stops within 24 hours, so it is often not necessary to see the vet. Similarly, a sudden change in diet could cause a dog to be sick but this will usually resolve within 24 hours.

Viral infections are passed between dogs easily as they sniff each other and faeces. This is often seen as an acute severe bought of vomiting. Again, as long as it has resolved within 24 hours you may not require veterinary attention, the exception would be if the vomiting was accompanied by diarrhoea as this results in dehydration very quickly.

Bacterial infections are less common and are passed between dogs or picked up from contaminated food. These tend to cause a more prolonged bout of sickness often in conjunction with diarrhoea and will almost certainly need veterinary help in the form of antibiotics and fluids.

Parasites are a rare cause of vomiting except in puppies. When present you can usually detect worms in the vomit so appropriate anti-worming medication should be sought, ideally from your veterinary surgery.

Foreign bodies are another common cause of vomiting in dogs, especially young ones. In many cases an owner will witness their dog eating something they shouldn't - such as a toy, sock, or corn on the cob. Initially the dog is bright but will vomit after eating, usually undigested food. However, if the foreign body leaves the stomach and makes its way into the intestines the dog can very soon become very poorly as it can get stuck and cause a blockage. This results in prolonged vomiting and often a painful abdomen. A delay in seeking veterinary attention can cause the foreign body to rupture the wall of the intestines resulting in peritonitis. This is often fatal even with veterinary help.

Vomiting is also a common symptom of kidney or liver disorders, Addison's Disease, pyometra and vestibular disease. However, these will usually be accompanied by other signs such as anorexia, diarrhoea, weight loss, increased thirst, weakness, and lethargy. These conditions are diagnosed by blood tests.

Pancreatitis is a common cause of vomiting. It is usually acute but can become chronic. It can be infectious or inflammatory and dogs usually suffer from vomiting, anorexia, and a painful tummy. It is diagnosed with a blood test and many dogs will require hospitalisation for intravenous fluids.

Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) can cause vomiting (although more commonly diarrhoea). This is often intermittent and maybe associated with the dog eating a specific food, it is usually self-limiting (providing the offending food is removed) and the dog recovers quickly.

If vomiting or retching is associated with a bloated abdomen, this should be considered an emergency as the dog could be suffering from Gastric Torsion. This occurs when the stomach fills up with gas and then twists round, cutting off its blood supply. It is more common in large, deep chested breeds. Exercising just before or after a large meal is also a pre-disposing factor and should be avoided.

Vomiting can be seen with a drug reaction or after an anaesthetic. This will usually resolve within 24 hours of exposure. Car sickness is common in puppies, but the majority of dogs will grow out of the condition. Travel sickness pills are available for long journeys.

Signs your dog is feeling sick include lip licking, swallowing, salivating, pacing and not wanting to eat. If your dog has just b

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