My Dog Is Throwing Up...Should I Be Concerned About My Pet's Health?
When Erica Martinetti's 15-year-old Chihuahua Gamma started throwing up a couple of times a week, Martinetti didn't think it was serious.
"He was generally in good spirits," says Martinetti, a marketing consultant in Orange County, California. "I thought it was just a sour stomach. I thought giving him a small meal at night before bedtime would help. But then I noticed that sometimes it didn't. It was one of those things where I noticed over time he was doing it more."
Gamma also started to shun his food and was drinking and urinating excessively. A trip to the vet confirmed that Gamma was suffering from kidney dysfunction.
Why Is My Dog Throwing Up?
According to Dr. Jessica Waldman, vomiting is most commonly caused by gastritis or inflammation of the stomach, although there are a myriad of causes, including kidney and liver failure, pancreatitis, diabetes, intestinal blockage, ingested poisons and cancer.
Gastritis is most often caused by "indiscriminate eating" or a diet change if it occurs suddenly and if it resolves quickly. If your dog is throwing up more than 5 times in one day or if your pet seems lethargic as a result, or the vomiting is persistent, see a vet immediately.
"I don't recommend ANY medications other than over-the-counter Famotidine (Pepcid AC) pilled without food twice daily," says Waldman. After vomiting, Waldman suggests resting the stomach (no food at all) for at least 12 hours and offering small amounts of water every few hours. "As long as water stays down, then introduce a very small amount of white rice and cooked yam every few hours after the 12 hour fast and as long as food stays down, slowly reintroduce the regular diet over the course of a few days," says Waldman.
Sometimes your dog may vomit not because of something he ate but something he didn't eat; some dogs vomit yellow frothy bile in the morning on an empty stomach due to excess stomach acid. "My dog has this!" says Waldman. "I can control it with a small snack before bed and one first thing in the morning. If not, Famotidine may help twice daily as well." Waldman recommends that you consult your veterinarian for the proper doses.
Does It Mean He Has Serious Stomach Trouble?
If your large breed dog begins retching or dry heaving, he could have bloat, also called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) stomach torsion, or twisted stomach.
By any name, it constitutes a veterinary emergency, and any pet suspected of having it should be brought to the vet immediately. "A dog with bloat may vomit drool, have a swollen stomach and act agitated," says Dr. Justine Lee, a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist, and currently the Associate Director of Veterinary Services for Pet Poison Helpline.
Another vomiting scenario that constitutes an emergency is a blockage, caused when a dog swallows something that becomes lodged in his intestines. A puppy younger than 12-weeks-old can get hypoglycemic if he can't hold down food or water for any reason, says Lee. "A dog that profusely vomits needs to be seen right away."
After a round of antibiotics and medication and a change of diet, Erica Martinetti's dog Gamma, is enjoying his life as a senior dog more. "He's sort of in a holding pattern now. Some days are better than others. He's clearly not as miserable and his appetite has returned most mornings. But he still has to pee in the middle of the night."
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