How to Treat a Vomiting Dog

By Jo Chester

Vomiting is a symptom of an underlying disease. It is not a disease itself. Treating vomiting must be a twofold effort: The cause of the vomiting must be diagnosed by your veterinarian and the vomiting itself must be controlled to prevent your dog from becoming dehydrated and his illness made worse. Feeding your dog and providing him with water should be undertaken with care, with medications and other treatments being offered when needed. Return to the veterinarian if your dog continues to vomit for more than one day: Ongoing vomiting can be the sign of a serious problem and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Vomiting vs. Regurgitation

  • The stomach muscles clench when a dog vomits, contracting with enough violence that the stomach contents -- both food and bile -- are forced up through his digestive tract and out of his body. It usually is preceded by your dog appearing uncomfortable, possibly due to the nausea that comes before vomiting.

  • Your dog expels the contents of his mouth and his esophagus when he regurgitates his food, but not the food and bile in his stomach. Regurgitation involves less effort and may be entirely passive when compared to vomiting. Because the food has emerged from the esophagus, the food usually is firm and in the shape of a sausage link and may be coated with mucus. Your dog might try to eat the regurgitated food, but it's best to keep a part of it if you'll be taking him to the veterinarian.

Determine the Cause

Because vomiting is a symptom of a disease and not a disease itself, proper treatment for vomiting can vary. For this reason, it is important to determine the cause behind the vomiting -- withholding food or feeding a bland diet, for example, will do nothing to aid the dog if his medication is causing his vomiting. Bring your dog to the veterinarian for an examination if the cause of his vomiting is unknown. Bring his medications and the analysis label to his food, too, to help the veterinarian make a diagnosis. In addition, bring a sample of whatever your dog threw up and be prepared to answer any questions about your dog's activities and behavior before he started vomiting.

Withholding Food and Water

If your dog's vomiting is determined to be mild and nonlife threatening, your veterinarian probably will recommend that you withhold food for 24 hours. You will be asked to restrict his water intake, giving small amounts of water until he is no longer vomiting it back up. If the vomiting is more severe or if it goes on for a while, your dog may need intravenous fluids to keep him from becoming dehydrated.

Give your dog ice chips to lick if he is having trouble keeping water down.

Feeding Your Dog after Vomiting

It is best to reintroduce food gradually once your dog has stopped vomiting. Boiled chicken and rice, prepared without seasoning or chicken skin, is a good bland meal for your dog. You can substitute scrambled eggs for the protein and boiled potatoes for the rice, as well, if you will be continuing a bland diet for a few days and prefer to give him some variety. Your veterinarian can offer a prescription diet, if you prefer. Give your dog small amounts of food, often, when he is recovering from vomiting.

Medications and other Treatments

A number of medications are used to control vomiting and to soothe your dog's gastrointestinal tract:

  • Anti-emetics to prevent vomiting
  • Antibiotics to reduce infection
  • Cimetidine to control vomiting
  • Drugs to help your dog empty his stomach through digestion.

It is possible, in the case of severe vomiting, that your dog may need surgery to remove an obstruction or further medical treatment or examination to determine if it is caused by a disease.

Returning to the Veterinarian

Many dogs do not need continuing treatment once their vomiting has been controlled. Return your dog to his veterinarian if the vomiting continues for more than 24 hours, if he has pain in his abdomen, if he has diarrhea in addition to his vomiting or if there is blood in the vomitus.