Occasional vomiting provides a normal and a natural way of your dog's body getting rid of any unwanted materials that he may have eaten. While occasional vomiting is not a cause for alarm, if your dog repeatedly vomits or if the vomiting is joined with diarrhea, lethargy or changes in her behavior, you should contact your vet as soon as possible. Treating your dog's vomiting with medication or other steps largely depends on the cause of the vomiting.
In most instances, you can treat your dog at home by withholding food for about 24 hours to allow your dog's system to calm down. Every 4-6 hours, give your dog either Nutri-Cal or maple syrup (if he won't eat it, rub it on his gums). If giving maple syrup, give one tablespoon for every 15 lbs. of your dog's weight. To help prevent dehydration, add unflavored Pedialyte to your dog's water. If your dog does not want to drink, offer clear broth, bullion or clear non-citrus juice. After the initial 24 hours, offer your dog small (very small at first and work your way up) amounts of bland food. White rice with plain chicken (skinless), cottage cheese or boiled hamburger works best. Keep your dog on this diet for three days, feeding her three small meals per day; afterward, begin slowly adding your dog's regular food into the homemade mixture and phase in the regular diet (phasing the homemade mixture out) over a 3-5 day period.
Your veterinarian may recommend giving your dog Pepto-Bismol, Pepcid or another over-the-counter medication to help combat nausea. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is often helpful in treating nausea, motion sickness and a variety of skin issues. Dramamine or Bonine are also useful for dogs suffering from motion sickness. Before giving your dog an OTC medication, check with your vet, since they could worsen certain conditions or interact with other medicines.
Depending on your dog's condition, your veterinarian may consider prescribing an anti-nausea medication. Some of these medications are administered by injection or intravenously. Others are in tablet form and can be given on a regular basis at home. Reglan (metoclopramide) works by helping to correct motility disorders (which can create nausea and vomiting since food "pools" in the stomach) and restore the normal contractions of stomach muscles. A new medication from Pfizer Animal Health has just been approved for use. Cerenia (maropitant citrate) is prescribed for dogs suffering from motion sickness and can also be useful in treating bouts of acute vomiting, as it blocks your dog's vomiting signals. Other medications include dolastron, maropitant, ondansetron and chlorpromazine. All prescription medications should be administered by a veterinarian and are aimed to control vomiting and to minimize discomfort, dehydration and erosion of your dog's esophagus from stomach acids.
Some conditions may require veterinary intervention. Your vet may want a stool sample to rule out any parasites, coccidia or Giardia. Blood work can help to rule out infection (which would likely be treated with antibiotic therapy), and X-rays will rule out any obstructions. Depending on your dog's overall condition and the results of your vet's testing, your dog may require hospitalization to administer IV fluids and administer other anti-nausea medications.
If your dog's condition is worsening or does not improve within 24 hours, consult your veterinarian to determine the best course of action. If your dog exhibits symptoms such as abdominal pain, distended abdomen and unsuccessful attempts to vomit, seek medical attention right away as this could be a sign that your dog is suffering from GDV (gastric dilation volvulus), also called bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition. If you suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately.