Sometimes your dog’s stretch is more than a stretch—such as when your retriever poses in the downward-dog yoga position for the third time in a row, and you realize they are not practicing their flexibility, but preparing to vomit on your expensive rug.

Sometimes dogs will vomit once and carry on. When vomiting becomes more frequent, you may have a hard time deciding whether to seek veterinary attention. Here are five indications that will help you know when to call the Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team to evaluate your vomiting dog.

#1: Your dog is trying to vomit, but producing nothing

If your dog repeatedly attempts to vomit without producing food, fluid, or bile, call us immediately. Non-productive vomiting can be a classic sign for bloat, or gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), which is always an emergency. Bloating dogs experience intense pressure and pain as their stomach fills with gas, and they instinctively attempt to reduce the pressure by vomiting. Left untreated, your dog’s stomach can rotate and trap the pressurized gas inside their stomach.  Every minute matters for dogs with GDV, so do not wait for the signs to possibly improve. If your dog is dry-heaving or vomiting without producing fluid, call our hospital immediately.

#2: Your dog is vomiting blood

Fresh red blood in your dog’s vomit can be alarming, and most owners will not need further prompting to schedule a veterinary appointment. Fresh blood typically indicates an oral or upper gastrointestinal tract issue, including dental disease, oral injury, stomach ulceration, or cancer. Digested blood, which resembles dark spots similar to coffee grounds, is more difficult to spot. This blood has been in the upper small intestine, and may be caused by a foreign object, ulceration, or cancer.

Describing your pet’s vomit to your veterinarian can provide important clues to the location of your pet’s injury. If you are too squeamish to bring a sample to the clinic, take a picture of the vomit to show the veterinarian.

#3: Your vomiting dog is experiencing other signs

Vomiting that is accompanied by other signs indicates a much larger problem. Sick dogs can deteriorate rapidly because vomiting has dehydrating effects, so ensure they see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vomiting dog should especially be seen by your veterinarian if they are: 

  • Young or old 
  • Having diarrhea
  • Not eating
  • Running a fever
  • Lethargic

Puppies and senior dogs have weaker immune systems, and are more prone to dehydration. Puppies may not be fully vaccinated, leaving them vulnerable to deadly parvovirus and distemper.

#4: Your dog has been vomiting for more than 24 hours

Frequent, sudden-onset vomiting requires medical attention. Pets are vulnerable to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and severe weakness from repetitive vomiting, straining, and lack of nutrition. 

Acute vomiting may begin with food, but once their stomach is emptied, your pet may continue to vomit foamy fluid, or yellow bile from the gallbladder. Potential causes for acute vomiting in dogs include:

  • Dietary indiscretion — Rich table scraps or expired foods from the trash are common culprits.
  • Acute stomach inflammation — This can be a reaction to food, such as an allergy or sensitivity.
  • Dietary changes — Sudden food changes can disagree with your pet’s digestive tract. Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet.
  • Parasites — Gastrointestinal parasites and worms, including roundworms, irritate the stomach. Your pet’s vomit may include adult worms or microscopic eggs.
  • Liver or kidney disease — Accumulated toxins in the body can lead to nausea and vomiting.

Delaying your pet’s appointment can prolong or complicate their treatment, so be proactive for the most effective results. 

#5: You suspect, or know, your dog ate something inappropriate

Curious dogs can get in a lot of trouble. Your dog’s playful nature and indiscriminate appetite can lead to vomiting caused by two other problems that always constitute a veterinary emergency:

  • Gastrointestinal obstruction — Dogs can become obstructed anywhere in their upper or lower gastrointestinal tract. Common obstructions include toys, bones, clothing, and corn-on-the-cob. Your dog will require endoscopy or surgery to remove the item, and prevent tissue damage or organ rupture.
  • Toxic hazards — Toxins including rodent bait, human medication, antifreeze, and poisonous plants can cause catastrophic internal damage and acute vomiting.

If you suspect your pet has ingested a known hazard, do not take a wait-and-see approach. Additional side effects may not be immediately apparent, but can be irreversible once they begin. Call Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital with an exact description of the item that your pet ate, and bring all remnants or product packaging to the hospital, in case we need to contact the manufacturer or the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Center.

Your vomiting dog is always a valid concern, and an important reason to schedule an appointment. You understand your dog better than anyone else, and veterinarians know that if you think something seems “off,” you will be right nine times out of 10. If you are concerned about your dog’s acute or chronic vomiting, contact Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital.