All dogs will have an episode of vomiting from time to time. There are many causes of vomiting, from the less serious case of overeating to more urgent causes such as poisoning or a twisted stomach (GDV). When dogs vomit, not only are they expelling material from their tummies, they are also letting us know that they are feeling unwell and need a bit of extra TLC today. This article will prepare you on ways to provide relief for your vomiting dog so you know what to do when it happens again.
How to tell if the vomiting can be treated at home:
Not all causes of vomiting can be treated at home. Life-threatening diseases such as GDV (bloat), an obstruction of the intestines from a foreign object, or poisoning will not get better with home treatment.
Always contact a veterinarian by phone, or via online video chat for advice before starting home treatment for vomiting.
If you see any of the following signs in combination with vomiting, a vet visit is needed:
- Inappetence for more than 24 hours
- Diarrhea for more than 24 hours
- Vomiting or diarrhea with blood or dark brown coffee ground material in it
- Retching or vomiting foam persistently, especially in large breed dogs
- Pale gums
- Reluctance to drink for more than 24 hours
Medical treatment for vomiting
A visit to the veterinarian will allow for a full check-up of your dog, and she will be able to tell if further testing is needed such as x-ray or blood tests to gather more information before treating your dog.
Any dehydration from vomiting can generally be treated with intravenous fluids.
Veterinarians can give injectable anti-nausea medication which is usually powerful to stop even the most severe bouts of vomiting. They may also prescribe tablet versions of this medication for you to continue using at home.
Your veterinarian may choose to dispense other supplementary medications such as probiotics and gastroprotectant medications, or a prescription diet to allow for easy digestion of nutrients.
Your dog may not want to eat their regular kibble if she is vomiting and feeling nauseous so an alternative option is to cook up some plain, boiled chicken and some plain boiled rice. Do not use leftovers or any meat or rice with spices or flavorings added as some of these flavorings contain garlic and onion which can be toxic to dogs.
Feed the boiled chicken and rice in small amounts three to four times a day. This mix of chicken and rice contains an easily digestible single source of protein and carbohydrates. This combination is much easier for an upset tummy to break down into usable energy and less likely to cause further vomiting than other kibble or treats you may usually feed.
There are commercially available alternatives that require a prescription from your veterinarian if you do not wish to spend time cooking. These alternatives are Royal Canin Gastro or Hills I/D wet and dry food. Feeding guides are listed on the tins or ask a veterinarian if unsure.
Ginger is a natural supplement used commonly in people for mild nausea and vomiting. It is also thought to work in dogs. It has no side effects unless given in large quantities so always check the dose with a veterinarian before supplementing. It can be given in its natural form or boiled with water for a soothing drink. It is unlikely to be powerful enough to stop vomiting completely but may help with nausea before or after vomiting.
Electrolyte rehydration sachets are easily obtained over the counter at your veterinary clinic or local pet store. They help to prevent dehydration, which vomiting can lead to quite quickly. The dosing instructions are on the back of the packets. It is crucial to use electrolytes specifically formulated for dogs, not human preparations as the concentration of the solutions vary between species.
Dogs who are vomiting feel miserable! They need extra love and support when they are feeling unwell. Remember dogs look to us to fill their every need, and emotional support plays a huge part in recovery from illness. Wipe away any drool around their mouths after they have finished vomiting and offer a drink of fresh water regularly. Avoid walks or strenuous play as this can further upset their tummies. Offer a calm quiet space for them to rest and recover, and lots of pats never hurt!
Probiotics will not stop your dog from vomiting but can be a useful supplement after the vomiting bout has passed. Probiotics contain the precursors for the ‘good’ bacteria which populate the gut and help with digestion. When pets are ill with vomiting and diarrhea they can lose some of the ‘good’ bacteria during illness. Supplementing a probiotic can give the gut the opportunity to repopulate with ‘good’ bacteria. It’s important to use probiotic sachets or supplements specifically made for dogs as their microflora is different from other species.
Should I give my dog their regular medication if they are vomiting?
No, if your dog is vomiting, or has vomited up their regular medication do not give any tablets and contact your veterinarian for advice. There is medication that can be used to stop vomiting so that regular tablets can be given if it is safe to do so.
Why can't I just buy anti-nausea medication from the vet clinic?
Veterinarians are licensed to prescribe medications, but only after an examination has occurred. There are many serious causes of vomiting, and your vet has to be sure that they are not masking the signs of a more urgent problem by using these antinausea medications.
Can I use medication leftover from a previous vet visit?
It is not recommended to give medications to your dog for vomiting without talking to a veterinarian first, as it can mask the signs of a more serious illness, which could have severe consequences.