Every dog owner has certainly witnessed it once and was frightened: his dog suddenly vomits. But not every form of vomiting is actually worrisome. Vomiting in dogs, also known as “vomitus“, is common and can have many different causes. Single occurrence is harmless in most cases, and could be of many small reasons; however, visit to the veterinarian is a must.
Vomiting is actually an important defense mechanism of the body. With this protective reflex, the body can very effectively and quickly remove toxic and unwanted substances or foreign materials. In this reflex, which takes place after stimulation in several phases; the dog’s throat, esophagus, diaphragm, stomach, abdominal muscles and breathing work closely together.
The first phase manifests itself in the dog by swallowing, smacking, restlessness, licking, salivation and even yawning. Due to the increased salivation, the esophagus is lined and prepared for the acidic stomach contents. Dogs often eat grass during this phase.
In the second phase, the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm contract, leaving the larynx and mouth closed. The result is a negative pressure, whereby the stomach contents in the esophagus reach into the mouth. From the outside, you can see “pumping movements” of the abdominal wall with a curled back.
In the vomiting phase, the stomach contents are expelled from the mouth. Also in this phase, the epiglottis remains closed, so that no gastric contents get into the trachea and can be inhaled. The half-digested food and liquid bile-stained are usually vomited.
Causes of Vomiting
The reflex process at vomiting is controlled by the vomiting center in the dog’s brain. The stimulation of the crushing center can be done by different stimuli at different locations in the body. Almost every organ of the body has receptors that can stimulate the vomiting center. In addition, the vomiting center can be stimulated by higher centers in the Central Nervous System (CNS). Causes may include, for example, encephalitis and tumors in the CNS area, but also anxiety, stress and unpleasant odours. Disturbances in the organ of equilibrium, for example in the form of middle or inner ear inflammation, also act on the vomiting center.
In most cases, vomiting in dogs is a sign of inflammation or excessive expansion of organs, especially the digestive organs such as the esophagus, stomach, intestine, pancreas, and liver. The most common causes include:
- Slinging food
- Ingestion of spoiled food or feed intolerance
- Swallowing a foreign particle
- Gastrointestinal inflammation
- Infectious diseases (parasites, viruses, bacteria)
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Addison’s disease
There is also a distinction between acute and chronic vomiting. Acute vomiting occurs spontaneously and suddenly and is usually of short duration or lasts for less than two weeks. Chronic vomiting is when dogs vomit for more than two weeks without improvement. Vomiting can have a harmless cause and quickly disappear. In any case, but especially if the vomiting lasts longer or the dog shows more symptoms, you should not hesitate and see a veterinarian. If the dog fails several times unsuccessfully, if there is blood in the vomit or if the dog has picked up a foreign particle, you should immediately take your dog to a veterinarian.
Diagnosis of Vomiting
Because of the variety and variety of causes of vomiting in dogs, there are a number of studies that may be necessary to determine the cause. First and foremost, a detailed preliminary report is necessary for the veterinarian, e.g. about the feeding and the time of vomiting after feeding. In addition, the process of vomiting should be described to distinguish it from the symptom of “regurgitation” (backflow of food) or cough. The preliminary report is followed by the clinical examination. If the veterinarian finds abnormalities during the examination of the dog, further measures such as blood, faeces, x-ray and ultrasound examinations may be necessary. If chronic vomiting is present, an endoscopy or diagnostic operation may be indicated.
Therapy of Vomiting
Single vomiting without further symptoms in many cases requires no treatment or only a fasting period of the dog for about 12 to 24 hours. Fresh water must be available for the dog, as vomiting causes water loss & dehydrate your dog. Having said that, the quantity of water should be just sufficient. The vomiting occurred more often, but the general condition of the dog is undisturbed, often sufficient conservative treatment with administration of antiemetic drugs by the veterinarian in addition to the feeding of light food. If other symptoms such as fever, laxity and abdominal pain exist, they must be treated and investigated for the cause. If vomiting is caused by serious causes, these must be treated in a targeted manner.
Prevention of Vomiting
Since the excessive loosening of food is often a cause of vomiting, feeding in an anti-schling cup may be beneficial in these cases. Especially in dogs that like to operate as “vacuum cleaners”, one should prevent the intake of anything that is not food, be it at home or while walking. Since some dogs are sensitive to food changes, it is advisable to refrain from sudden food changes or to make a careful & a gradual switch over several days. In winter, the inclusion of snow through the dog should be prevented as possible, as this often leads to gastrointestinal discomfort (“snow gastritis”).
Because vomiting of your dog can be a sign of anything from simple overeating, to a major life-threatening emergency, it is up to you to be aware and well informed of the dangers to your dog. By carefully watching your dog, you may be able to spot a potential problem before it comes an emergency and save you and your dog from a heartbreaking situation. Timely actions can reduce the chances of a mishap and your dog will recover to its full health at the earliest.
Remember NOT to take any home-based remedies on your own & always take your dog to a veterinarian, in case of your dog vomiting.