Vomiting in Dogs

Claire Dunling

The predicament when trying to diagnose why your dog is vomiting is figuring out whether it’s an underlying medical condition or from consuming too much of what they shouldn’t have. Fortunately, in most cases, the cause of the sickness is not serious and is easily treated. Here’s a list (in no specific order) of what usually causes vomiting in dogs:

Vomiting in dogs

While sickness in dogs is usually caused by ingesting too much of something they shouldn’t be eating, it’s vital that you contact your vet especially if your dog has been repeatedly sick, to rule out anything detrimental. There are plenty of substances around the home and garden that are seemingly harmless but are in fact highly poisonous and sometimes fatal if consumed by dogs. Be sure to brush up on the top 7 most poisonous plants and weeds so you can be prepared for an emergency.

If your dog is retching but not physically sick, there’s a possibility that they may have kennel cough – this condition presents as a chesty cough that can often make your dog retch. Whilst this is easily treated, it is highly contagious so should be dealt with promptly. Consider talking with your vet about kennel cough vaccinations, especially if you live in a multi-dog household.

One-off bouts of sickness, with no other consistent symptoms, generally do not indicate any serious problem.  If they seem fine in themselves and still interested in food, here are a few tips to ensure a speedy recovery:

If they are still being sick after 48 hours or appear lethargic or depressed, seek veterinary support for further testing.

When is vomiting an emergency?

If you notice that your dog is suffering from other symptoms, seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible. A number of varying symptoms could indicate an underlying condition that could require attention:

There are many factors to consider when deciding if a trip to the emergency vet practice is a requirement. Generally, an episode of vomiting with no accompanying symptoms usually means they’ve been bin raiding and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, if you have a senior dog who has been sick, has lost their appetite and is lethargic or has a change in behaviour – a check-up is highly recommended.

For all sickness and diarrhoea scenarios in puppies, take to them to the vets for immediate attention. Puppies aged 6 weeks to 6 months are at higher risk of contracting Parvovirus, which is a common infection found in breeding kennels. The highly contagious infection attacks the pup’s intestines, meaning vital nutrients aren’t absorbed which leads to severe dehydration, weakness and in some cases, death. Vaccinations should be administered from 6 weeks of age and a booster injection will be needed two weeks later. There is no cure for the virus but the vaccination and boosters will protect your puppy from contracting Parvo.

How to prevent sickness

There’s no fool proof way to stop sickness but to prevent as much as possible you can make sure you aren’t giving in to those puppy dog eyes too often and allowing too many scraps or leftovers.

Keeping them on a consistent diet, that is tailored to their size, breed and packed with nutritious ingredients will also help soothe their digestive tract, as well as keeping them fuller for longer and so less likely to scavenge.

Ensuring that poisonous plants around the garden or substances around the house are kept out of paws reach will also eliminate the chances of them exploring with their mouths.

Considering that parasitic worms like roundworm and tapeworm are one of the most common causes of sickness and diarrhoea in dogs, it’s good practice to keep up on top of their wormer treatments. All puppies and dogs will have worms at some point in their lives and it’s not always easy to spot but keeping track of their worming treatment will significantly reduce the chance of being affected. And of course, if you’re venturing abroad this summer be prepared and check the worming protocols (which are compulsory in some countries) in advance.

This article is for guidance only and if you have any concerns about your pet you should always seek the advice of a qualified vet.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!