Vomiting is a very common problem in dogs. Not all cases of vomiting are necessarily alarming or need immediate veterinary intervention. Dogs vomit quite easily, for example if they swallow hair or an insect or eat something spoiled or indigestable. If your pet is otherwise healthy and appears to be normal, it's no great concern. All will depend on the causes of the vomiting and whether or not other symptoms are present. If your pet is otherwise healthy and appears to be normal, it's no great concern.
How to recognize dog vomiting from regurgitation and coughing ?
Vomiting should not be confused with regurgitation or the coughing up of food. Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of contents of the stomach and upper intestine, while regurgitation is the ejection of contents of the oesophagus and coughting is the expulsion of food from the airways.
Regurgitation is the fairly effortless expulsion of undigested food, without retching. The animal lowers its head and food is passively expelled. The food brought up by regurgitation is usually undigested and often covered with a slimy mucus. Regurgitation occurs because the esophagus is physically blocked or because it lacks peristaltic activity, the contracting of the muscles behind the chewed material to make it move downward and prevent it from moving back into the mouth. In either case, the food accumulates until the esophagus is overloaded, after which the food is expelled without effort.
Vomiting is the forceful and active expulsion of stomach contents, preceded by constant drooling and heaving, the forceful contraction of your dog's abdominal muscles. The expelled material can be fluid, froth or partially digested food, usually sour smelling, and stained with yellow bile. Vomiting may be preceeded by a stage of nausea, in which your dog appears restless and apprehensive.
Coughing is a reflex initiated by an irritation in the airway. Expulsion of food through coughing will typically occur when food is inhaled into the airways. Dogs will usually crouch down on all four legs when coughing with the neck stretched out.
Causes of vomiting can be gastric (primary) and non-gastric (secondary). Gastric means due to conditions of the stomach and upper intestinal tract. Secondary or non-gastric causes are all other causes, such as those caused by diseases of other organs.
Some of the causes include:
- your dog has eaten too much or too quickly
- sudden change in type of food
- food that is too rich or too fatty
- colitis (if bloody, mucus diarrhea is also present)
- foreign body blocking the intestinal tract
- gastritis (often accompanied by diarrhea)
- Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter infections (can be passed to humans!)
- Liver, kidney and pancreatic diseases
- metabolic imbalances
- disease of the central nervous system,
- congestive heart failure
- dog was exposed to poisonous substance
- gastric ulcer
When to call the veterinarian ?
If any of the following signs is present it may be wise to seek veterinary advice:
- dog is lethargic or collapsed (consult your vet immediately!)
- vomit contains blood (possible sign of stomach ulcers, stomach cancer or uremia)
- vomiting accompanied by diarrhea (often a sign of a bacterial or viral infection)
- dog lacks appetite
If your dog shows any of the above signs there is a need to seek (urgent) veterinary attention.
- vomit looks and smells like stool
- presence of fever
- vomiting is projectile
- vomiting happens independently from the meals
- frequent bouts of vomiting
- dog was exposed to something poisonous or dangerous (like a household chemical or fertilizer)
- vomiting persists more than a couple of days
- frequent attempts to vomit without producing anything (twisted stomach, gastric dilation-torsion)
- there is weight loss
- dog has difficulties to breath
- dog shows signs of pain
- other pets in the household are affected
However, if your dog vomits only once, is not showing any of these signs and is otherwise alert and active, you can probably save yourself a trip to the vet on condition that you monitor your dog closely for 12 hours. Do not feed your dog during this time and allow him to drink only very small amounts of water at the time. Examine the stool and vomit. Collect samples if you believe you will need to take your dog in.
If you bring your dog to the veterinarian, bring a sample of the 'vomit'. The PH of the sample can help determine if it was produced by vomiting or regurgitation. The veterinarian may ask you to describe the appearance of the vomit, as well as how your pet behaves when it vomits and the relation ship of vomiting to eating. If your pet vomits just sporadically and has a specific series of actions associated with vomiting, you may consider video taping an episode of vomiting to help describe the episodes to the veterinarian.
Vomiting In Dogs
When to See Your Veterinarian
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