When an owner encounters a dog vomiting, it is only natural to wonder what is causing his or her dog to vomit. These can range from eating too much, eating the wrong food to more serious problems like parasites or diseases causing ill health where vomiting is often a symptom. To make things more complicated for dog owners, there can be different types of vomiting which arise from various situations. It is good to educate oneself on these matters in order to figure out what may be causing a pet dog to vomit all of a sudden or habitually.
Before that, dog owners should not immediately panic upon having their dogs vomit. This condition can often be a general occurrence, much like how humans may often vomit or experience diarrhea when having eaten or drunk something bad. It is however, important to observe how serious or regular the vomiting is, other symptoms that may accompany or result from the vomiting episodes that could require more urgent medical help.
So what causes a dog to vomit?
The general cause is often a result of the dog’s stomach being irritated – be it by germs, foreign objects, parasites or other factors. This irritation may lead to the stomach experiencing involuntary actions in its muscles that could force food or substances out of the body via the esophagus and expelled through the mouth or nose. The frequency of vomiting can also differ from one condition to another. Some dogs may experience acute vomiting whereby the problem usually occurs suddenly with a violent one time throw up of vomit, while chronic vomiting could be a frequent occurrence whereby the dog suffers from the problem more than once a week. Both can be equally mild or serious and dog owners should never dismiss each episode without careful treatment.
Most cases of dog vomiting are of the acute nature. Usually it happens after the owner feeds a new type of food to the dog, changes in its diet or the canine opting to feast on foreign objects after playing with toys of other things lying about in the house. These will lead to upset stomachs which then cause the dog to vomit or experience diarrhea, but are easily treatable by fasting the dog before slowly reintroducing a milder diet to it. However, take note that the type of foreign object ingested – if it is not food – may lead to more serious problems like blockages which should require urgent medical treatment instead.
Acute vomiting can also result from the dog eating too fast. Again, this is similar to what we humans will experience when gorging ourselves on plenty of food in a short period of time. The digestive system and stomach cannot process the food well and fast enough, which the body then reacts by trying to rid itself of the food through vomit or diarrhea.
Dry dog food can also cause some problems. This often occurs in puppies, younger dogs and those smaller in size as they could be fed such diets. It would be a good idea to prevent this problem by mixing some water with the food or other types of canned products.
Chronic or repeated vomiting in dogs can often be indicative of more serious health problems, or simply existing health issues that could have been left undetected and untreated which then worsened. Even initial acute vomiting which appeared to have gone away might be a precursor to issues that lead to a more worrisome regular occurrence. Most times, if your dog vomits more than once weekly, then it can be classified as chronic. Just like dying a slow death, chronic vomiting may not appear as serious as acute incidents, but it can slowly drain the health of your dog as it consistently loses nutrition, moisture and hydration, energy and other factors that contribute to better health. Dogs who suffer from chronic vomiting often appear to be lethargic, have poorer quality hair coats and may not even have an appetite.
The most common causes of chronic vomiting may be attributed to food allergies. Dogs may have existing allergies to different types of food, or they could even develop new ones to foods which they previously had no problems ingesting. Whatever the cause, it will cause inflammation in the stomach and intestines which then naturally cause the dog to vomit.
There can be other causes that lead to a dog vomiting, be it acute or chronic. As any dog owner will tend to agree, these canines often cannot help themselves in biting and swallowing all sorts of items they may come across. Not content with the food that you will feed it in a day, dogs will also not hold back from eating plants and leaves in the garden, feces, items lying about the house like socks and balls, and perhaps other animals or insects as well if one does unfortunately cross its path. These can all contain substances that may irritate or harm the dog’s stomach and internal organs and system. One of the most dangerous would be that of consuming substances that have parasites in them. Parasites like roundworms are very common in dogs and can only be found out either through routine medical checkups or via unwanted medical problems like vomiting. They can sometimes be seen in vomit or feces and lead to other symptoms like diarrhea, but some may even go unchecked for years, slowly causing your dog to get sicker before they are found out – sometimes too late. Apart from roundworms, other parasites that should be looked out for are giardia and coccidia. These parasites can cause much more severe health problems like bloody diarrhea, weakness, fever, dehydration and even death. If your dog is often in a community of other dogs, they can be more prone to these parasites.
Apart from irritated stomach and intestinal linings that result in vomiting, dogs can also experience this condition after ingesting large items or too much that lead to blockages or obstruction in different parts of their internal digestive system. Imagine a simple scenario of the dog swallowing a huge ball. It may get stuck at some point along the esophagus or intestines. The surrounding organs and muscles will start to react where vomiting may only be part of the resulting symptom. Other serious problems may start to develop like internal bleeding, abdominal pain due to cramping muscles, bloating of the abdominal as blood may either gather to aid the body in trying to deal with the unknown foreign entity which then derives other organs from having sufficient blood and oxygen supply. The worst scenario – if the problem is left untreated via not removing the substances that are causing the blockages – would be for the internal organ systems to rupture, loose blood and rotting may start to set in. At this point, it often means emergency surgery which may or may not save the life of your dog.
While swallowing large foreign objects can often lead to such serious problems, there may be other everyday activities that can cause it. If you only feed your dog once a day and with a huge meal, if it starts vomiting, then the dog is either eating too much or too fast. Wait too long before you deal with the problem and blockage may start to develop. Dogs which are only fed once a day may also be hungry which then makes them eat voraciously. It is better to space out the meals and also feed them smaller portions each time. With chronic vomiting in dogs, the illness may often be of a more hereditary or physiological problem. One such cause would be inflammatory bowel disease. Also known as IBD, inflammatory bowel disease is often seen more in the form of diarrhea in dogs but it may also lead to vomiting in canines. Many factors have been attributed to causing IBD, such as hereditary genetics, poor health affecting the immune system, or a neglected or poor diet. What happens is that the intestine stars to develop scar tissue due to inflammation and this consistently irritates the stomach and digestive system, which naturally manifests itself in continued and regular vomiting in dogs. Like most cases of inflammation in other health issues, inflammatory bowel disease can be treated with steroids, antibiotics and later on, a proper diet.
If your dog suffers from a health condition that prevents its digestive system from carrying out its work properly, vomiting can also result. Such instances will often lead to a more chronic occurrence. One possible condition would be pancreatitis. This is when the pancreas is unable to properly carry out its role in the digestive system by secreting hormones that aid in the breakdown of food and substances in the body. When this happens, the pancreas may start to overwork leading to possible inflammation, while other internal organs could also start to collapse. Again, the vomiting may only be a symptom of a more serious problem which requires emergency treatment. Due to the plethora of possible reasons that may lead to such situations, if your dog is vomiting and you wonder what you as a dog owner should do, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian. Before you make the visit, help both your dog and the vet by making a note of things like the food that you may have fed your canine, his or her behavior before and after, other circumstances surrounding his or her state and anything that could assist the vet in making an informed and sound diagnosis.