There are many reasons a dog might start vomiting and continue to do so and none of them are fun for either the dog or the owner. The good news is that if your dog keeps throwing up there are some steps you can take to try to stop it or at least make your dog feel better until the cause can be addressed.
I have used all the tips below but I am not a veterinarian and have always taken my dogs to one as soon as I felt I could no longer handle whatever was making my dog sick. So, I hope the following advice is helpful but please use your best judgment and seek professional help if you think your dog needs it.
1. Assess the Situation
First things first, take a look at the circumstances surrounding the vomiting – this will tell you a lot about how serious the situation is. Pay close attention to the following:
- How frequently is your dog throwing up?
- What is your dog throwing up? Is it mostly food that isn’t completely digested or mucus or bile or maybe bits of plastic from a toy he ate?
- Has your dog lost his appetite or does he throw up and then start looking for the next meal?
- Is your dog lethargic or listless in addition to throwing up?
- Is your dog also having diarrhea?
- Will your dog drink water on his own without prompting or help?
2. Withhold Food
If you believe that the situation is not life threatening, a tried and true trick is simply to withhold food. Leave the water out but skip a meal or two – unless your dog has a chronic illness this will not adversely affect his health. Withholding food gives the stomach a chance to calm down and clear out whatever might have upset it. It is very common for dogs to eat trash or plants or animal feces that cause a bacterial overgrowth in the gut that can lead to vomiting.
When you reintroduce your dog’s food be sure to do it slowly – make the first meal half what you usually feed. If this is tolerated well then you can move forward with normal feeding and try to forget that Fido ruined your white carpet.
3. Feed Something Easy to Digest
If you don’t feel like you can withhold food or if you skipped a meal but are still worried about going back to the normal routine, you can try feeding very bland foods. Cooked rice is the food of choice here and cooked rice with a small amount of cooked chicken (not fried or seasoned) is generally tolerated very well by dogs with upset stomachs.
There are also veterinary diets available that target the need for very bland food. These will most likely be a canned food and will also contain a lot of rice and chicken. Avoid anything dairy as dogs can be lactose intolerant and we don’t want to compound the digestive problems.
4. Change the Diet
If your dog throws up a partially digested dinner not long after eating and does this several nights a week you may be dealing with a food allergy. I talk more about that in this post and if you think that might be causing the vomiting then you can try some of the tips listed there to eliminate the allergic response and narrow down the ingredients to avoid. This takes some time but will clear up any consistent vomiting related to a food sensitivity.
5. Head to the Vet
If any of the following are occurring, you should see a veterinarian as soon as possible:
- Constant, excessive vomiting – if your dog starts vomiting and does so consistently over a short amount of time you need to see a vet.
- Blood in the vomit – this can be due to several factors which are all bad and should be assessed by a vet immediately.
- Very low energy and listlessness – if your dog does not want to get up and move around please see a vet as soon as you can.
- Foreign objects in the vomit – this could be pieces of plastic or rubber or bedding (like a towel). If your dog is throwing up items like this seek veterinary care immediately so that they can check for an obstruction. If not addressed in time this can be fatal. Your vet will likely take an x-ray of your dog’s abdomen to determine if a foreign body is lodged anywhere in the digestive tract and if they find one it mat require surgery to remove. Keep in mind that many dogs eat rocks and if this causes an obstruction there may be excessive vomiting but no pieces of the rock as a clue to what might be wrong.
- Vomiting and diarrhea with refusal to eat or drink – in this case you run the risk of severe dehydration and if the vomiting and diarrhea does not stop quickly, a vet may need to intervene and provide supportive care until they can run their course.
Dogs are very much like people when it comes to having stomach upset – in general things are probably not serious but you still have to provide good supportive care and pay attention to how things evolve. Even if you think things aren’t serious enough to go to the vet, if you try the methods above and your dog’s symptoms still don’t improve within about 24-36 hours, you should consult your veterinarian. Prolonged vomiting can cause several complications and should be stopped as soon as possible.