When a dog vomits, or throws up, it is typically an indicator of an issue in the digestive tract.
Vomiting is preceded by retching, the gag reflex, before the actual vomiting takes place. This is different to regurgitation where the contents are just expelled out in one go without any pre-empting signs. Vomiting and regurgitation can indicate different issues.
The digestive tract starts from the mouth, into the throat, the gullet (or oesophagus) into the stomach then into the intestinal tract and out the back end.
Digestion already starts in the mouth with saliva beginning to break down starches, and further digestion takes place as food ingested travels through the digestive tract.
A typical passage rate (time from ingestion through to digestion and passing of poo) of dogs ranges between 4 to 12 hours, depending on breed, metabolism, stage of life and food type.
Similar to humans, dogs will not vomit unless there is a trigger. Some dogs suffer from motion sickness, similar to us, and will vomit during or after transit. In cases where motion sickness is observed, it is best not to feed the dog a large meal around 2 hours before or after travel. It is also good to start priming your dog for travel the moment they are toilet trained, to get them used to the motion and improve confidence in riding in vehicles.
Vomiting can also indicate a blockage, perhaps from ingestion of foreign bodies like socks...string etc. Some dog breeds are naturally curious and will eat or put anything lying around in its mouth! Parents with children, can you relate?
If a dog is intensely retching and vomiting, it signals a serious issue that requires veterinary attention right away. It could be a blockage, or toxicity from eating something off the ground without us knowing, or an upset tummy.
If you dog vomits multiple times in a day, or even within a few hours, seek veterinary attention right away.
Dogs with food allergies can also vomit if their diet is changed. Therefore, it is always important to gradually introduce new diets to your dog at least over a week.
Generally, vets may prescribe anti-nausea drugs to stop vomiting in dogs, as prolonged vomiting upsets their biochemical balance that can lead to serious illness. They may also recommend specially formulated sensitive stomach veterinary diets for long term care.
Supplements such as prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics may also help with sensitive tummies.
If a foreign body obstruction is found, surgery is typically recommended ASAP. The longer the blockage manifests, the higher the risk, depending on the size of the object and level of blockage.
Your vet may also run some blood tests to check on liver functions, as a compromised liver can lead to excessive vomitting.
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