Should you worry about your dog throwing up? Common causes and treatment of vomiting - Hindustan Times
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Should you worry about your dog throwing up? Common causes and treatment of vomiting

By, New Delhi
Apr 16, 2024 05:03 PM IST

Is it a stomach ailment or sign of heat illness? Know when to worry about your furry friend throwing up. Also find out about causes and treatment of vomiting.

Is your furry friend throwing up of late leaving you worried about the potential cause of the vomiting bouts? Your canine companions may have minor stomach ailments from time to time, and while some get healed on their own, others could be due to serious infections and may need a veterinary expert's advice. The content, frequency or colour of the puke can offer crucial insights into any underlying health of your ‘pawsome’ friend. While green or yellow vomit can indicate towards digestive issues or acid reflux, spotting blood in it can signal a serious issues requiring a vet's opinion. Persistent vomiting that lasts for more than 24 hours must be addressed urgently. (Also read | Heatwave ahead: Tips to take care of your animal companion during harsh summer)

Persistent vomiting in dogs that lasts for more than 24 hours must be addressed urgently.(Pixabay)
Persistent vomiting in dogs that lasts for more than 24 hours must be addressed urgently.(Pixabay)

"Whether your furry friend has gobbled down their food too quickly or merely munched on too much grass during their time outside, the occasional upset stomach-induced vomiting is par for the course for most – if not all – pet parents. While it's not uncommon for dogs to regurgitate due to minor reasons, discerning pet parents must keep a keen eye on certain indicators ranging from frequency to texture and even the colour, which can offer crucial insights into any underlying health of their furry companions," says Dr Thomas Heathcote, Chief Veterinary Officer, Small Animal Hospital.

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From acid reflux to stomach ulcers, Dr Thomas sheds light on the common causes of vomiting in dogs, alongside valuable insights into treating these issues effectively as and when they are spotted by pet parents.

Sensitive stomachs: Watch out for bile

Usually a distinct yellow or greenish in colour, bile is relatively easy to spot upon inspection. While bile in vomit can stem from temporary factors like eating too quickly or on an empty stomach, it is also often linked to conditions like acid reflux or a sensitive stomach. Fortunately, bile is not usually a serious condition by itself and can effectively be managed by including easily digestible meals in your dog's diet like boiled chicken, pumpkin, oatmeal, and rice. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as changing when you feed your pet.

Spotting blood: A red flag for problems

If you notice fresh blood or coffee ground-like vomit in your dog's vomit, it could indicate a more serious problem, demanding immediate veterinary attention. Neglecting treatment can result in severe complications like peritonitis, a life-threatening condition with a mortality rate ranging from 50% to 70%, necessitating emergency surgical intervention. Given the high stakes, promptly consulting a vet is imperative.

Your vet will assess the situation and prescribe a treatment plan, including medications like proton pump inhibitors or antibiotics, along with dietary adjustments, to reduce acid production, promote healing, and alleviate discomfort for your furry four-legged companion. Do not be overly alarmed. It is worth noting that in many cases, a small amount of blood in vomit is entirely harmless. However, it is advisable not to overlook the situation and instead seek medical evaluation to ensure proper assessment and care.

Symptoms like lethargy, drooling, anxiety

This is the most important factor when it comes to knowing if this is a real emergency. If there are accompanying symptoms like lethargy, drooling, and unusual vomit colours, the underlying cause is likely to be much more serious. Pay attention to their daily behaviour—is it business as usual, or are there signs of distress? If bile spotting in your dog's vomit coincides with lethargy, loss of appetite, or abdominal pain, it could signal serious underlying issues like gastrointestinal disorders or infections that demand prompt veterinary consultation for evaluation and treatment.

It is noteworthy how dogs also have physical manifestations of ailments based on emotional factors that can also induce vomiting such as stress or anxiety. Sudden destructive behaviours, house soiling, and vomiting, especially in your absence, may indicate separation anxiety. While thoughtful gestures like giving a special treat when you leave or leaving some recently worn clothes out that smell like you behind can help temporarily, recognizing your dog's stressors and introducing necessary changes in their routine and incorporating obedience training can help your dog feel calm, secure and promote their overall wellbeing.

Recognising the risk of dehydration

When vomiting is severe, dogs can lose significant amounts of fluid and electrolytes, increasing the risk of dehydration. Watch out for lethargy, sunken eyes, dry mouth and nose, and loss of skin elasticity, along with reduced urination, panting, and weakness. A simple pinch test can help assess hydration levels: gently pinch a fold of skin on your dog's neck or between their shoulder blades. If the skin snaps back immediately, your dog is likely well-hydrated. However, if the skin remains tented or takes longer to return to normal, it could indicate dehydration - this test isn’t perfect though so don’t rely on it entirely.

If dehydration is suspected, delaying treatment could exacerbate the risk of heat strokes or shock, underscoring the urgency of immediate action. Respond promptly by offering frequent small amounts of water, restricting your dog's food intake, and promptly seeking emergency veterinary intervention along with possible fluid therapy in severe cases. It's crucial to act swiftly, especially with small or young animals, as dehydration can happen rapidly. Therefore, it's important to seek veterinary care promptly.

Chronic vomiting, a critical concern

Chronic vomiting in dogs, especially if episodes occur more than once in a day or persist for more than 24 hours, should be examined and then diagnostic tests undertaken. It can be an early indicator of a life-threatening situation. For suspected kidney issues, they may assess kidney function, while GI problems may require additional tests like blood work, and diagnostic imaging (including endoscopy). It can also be an early sign of certain cancers, especially in cats. Treatment may involve medication and dietary changes, such as feeding gentle, non-fatty, and non-fibrous foods like boiled chicken and rice or prescription gastrointestinal diets. Additionally, continuing to monitor progress through regular vet check-ups will ensure your dog's health is managed effectively.

"Remember that by far the most common cause of vomiting is eating something daft; either from the floor or from a dustbin. This “dietary indiscretion” should pass relatively quickly. So, whilst the likelihood is that the cause is nothing serious, I would always recommend erring on the side of caution," says the expert.

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