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Sick As A Dog: When Vomiting Becomes A Concern

Disclaimer: This article contains several instances of the word “vomit”, but at least there are no pictures of it.

One idea about our canine friends that seems to have perpetuated throughout the years is that dogs are presumed to vomit frequently and that it is normal.  This is partially true but also highly misleading. 

Vomiting is as natural a process as any and is a built-in defence against the ingestion of harmful materials by expelling that which is harmful.  In this way, dog vomit is normal.

It isn’t normal, however, for it to be a common occurrence.  If our pet’s vomiting mechanisms are set into motion, this means that their body has been thrown into defence-mode by a threat and is trying to protect itself.  For this reason, as pet owners, it is vital to assess why they have vomited and whether our pet is still in danger.

When to take note but not to worry
As mentioned previously, disgorging is a perfectly natural response that can and surely will happen in your dog’s lifetime.  For the majority of dogs one might anticipate an occurrence of a few times within a year.

Grass-eating is often associated with occasional vomiting.  It is absolutely true that many dogs love to pick through the grass and other delicacies in the backyard and this can cause them to vomit.  It is, however, important to consider why this is causing them to be sick.  Many plants can cause stomach-upset when consumed, perhaps a chemical residue remains on the grass and foliage, or perhaps the dog is foraging in an attempt to settle an already volatile stomach.  If you are concerned about botanical or chemical poisoning, call the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-800-213-6680 and for more reading have a look at their Spring Toxins entry here to avoid the need for emergency medical intervention  If poison is not the worry, take note of the frequency of your dog’s vomiting and make an appointment to visit your veterinarian to discuss it.

When vomiting requires immediate attention
There are also many very serious conditions that can cause your dog to vomit.

Illness is often a cause for expelling as our dogs can get viruses like our flus as well that often go by undetected.  The virus may pass on its own or may require medical attention.  Not all viruses are flu-like, however, and there are many afflictions that can put your pet in great danger. Watch out for:

  • loss of control of other bodily functions
  • fearful or aggressive behaviors
  • weakness or unwillingness / inability to stand
  • continuation of vomiting

Any of these items or other concerns in concert with your dog’s initial ejection are indicators that you need to seek emergency care.

Poisoning is a terrifying ordeal for you and your dog and one that requires immediate intervention.  The list of things that dogs are willing to consume is immeasurable so it is important to ensure that your pet’s surroundings are safe.  Your pet may begin vomiting on its own but often they do not when a poison is consumed.  It is vital to act quickly and contact the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-800-213-6680 and call your local animal emergency hospital. 

Vomiting is a symptom of a multitude of conditions so it is important to consider exactly why your pet has done so with each occurrence.  You may learn something new about your dog’s habits and dietary needs, you might have a severe medical situation on your hands, or you might be witnessing an early indicator of some other internal abnormality. 

Remember, If it happens more than a few times in a year, it’s time to talk to your vet.