Another question I get asked quite regularly is “why does my dog throw up?”
Before we look at causes, let’s talk about what to do when it happens. If your dog has been eating grass then throws it up later, that’s not uncommon and is often a “one off” occurrence. I wouldn’t worry too much, but I absolutely would keep an eye on my dog to see how he is.
If, however, your senior dog has already thrown up a few times over the course of even one day, you must call your vet right now. Stop reading and call now! This article will still be here later.
Why the emergency?
It goes without saying, the quicker a condition is treated the better the chances of curing, or at least managing it are. In the case of a senior dog vomiting, it’s particularly critical because they are also usually dehydrated, and left untreated could cause death.
How can you tell if your dog is dehydrated? The simplest way is to gently pinch a bit of fur from the back of his neck. If it springs back into place right away he’s fine, but if it doesn’t your dog is suffering from dehydration. The longer it takes to spring back, the more dehydrated he is.
Explain your concerns when you call your vet’s office, even offering to sit in the waiting room until you can be seen. If you’re really worried and they won’t help you, find someone who can.
There are many reasons why dogs throw up and they include:
- Eating grass
- Too many treats
- Eating something found on the ground/something toxic
- Car sickness
- Change to a new diet too quickly, or the new food doesn’t agree with your dog
- Swallowed a foreign object
- Side effects of medication
- Addison’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
Figuring out the cause
Your vet will listen to your account of what’s been going on, ask questions, do a checkup, then carry out some tests (likely blood, urine and fecal).
Some of the information your vet will find helpful will be:
- Do you recall your dog eating anything, or sniffing around a certain area even if you didn’t see anything in his mouth?
- How long he has been throwing up
- How often?
- Is he still eating?
- Is he throwing up his food?
- How often after he eats does he throw up?
- What does the vomit look like?
- Do you notice any other changes such as peeing more – changes in behaviour – listless – restless – whimpering…
It’s impossible to know what treatment(s) will be given until a reason for his vomiting can be found. However the following are pretty standard options typically offered –
He may advise you to hold off on food (but NOT water) for 24 hours to settle his stomach, then feed him boiled chicken and rice for a few days.
An anti-nausea medication may be given. My vet tends to give Red a shot right away as it’s more fast acting to administer it through an injection than orally.
If there is even the slightest indication your dog is dehydrated, he will recommend IV fluids. Depending on the severity it will take just a few minutes, all day or overnight if it’s really serious. He may even give you some rehydration support to add to your dog’s water at home. I always have at least one sachet of Royal Canin Rehydration Support on hand. Although it doesn’t prevent dehydration, if it seems like Red isn’t drinking enough, I’ll put half a packet in a measuring cup full of water, then add it to her water bowl to encourage her to drink.
Why do dogs throw up – conclusion
While I don’t want you to freak out if your senior dog is throwing up, I do want you to take it seriously. Call your vet, give them as much information as you can over the phone, including whether or not you think he’s dehydrated.
When this happens to Red I make sure my vet fits me in at some point during the day. They know I’m not the type to “cry wolf” so when I need an appointment, they know I’m serious. I always offer to sit and wait, and I think that helps.
I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, a new Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.