Dogs bring an incredible amount of joy and laughter into your life. They serve as companions, friends, confidants, and often nap partners. For the most part, dogs are relatively easy pets to take care of. Like all pets, there are some less than wonderful things you will have to deal with. One thing is when your dog is throwing up. Let's face it a dog throwing up, and dog vomit are not subjects that most people want to think about. If you own a dog, no matter what breed, type, or size, you will spend at least part of your time looking at, worrying about, or cleaning up dog vomit.

It's one of the less pleasant things about dog ownership that you need to know. When your dog throws up, you will probably wonder whether it is serious, what to do, and the probable cause. Knowing these things can ease your worry and ultimately make your pet happier and healthier.

Is a Dog Throwing Up Serious?

husky on the couch


Most of the time, a dog throwing up once is not a serious condition. Dogs like most animals expel the contents of their stomach when something disagrees with them. They do this more often than a human but less often than say a cat. There are however circumstances where a dog throwing up is very serious. Several conditions cause that cause a dog to vomit are critical, and as with anything, prolonged vomiting may be extremely dangerous due to dehydration, stomach tears, and gastrointestinal damage. Remember throwing up once is sometimes okay particularly if the dog shows no other signs of illness. Some dogs are more prone to vomiting than others, and there are many things that factor into it.

What to Look For When Your Dog Is
Throwing Up

There are a few things that you can look for if your dog is vomiting that can help you determine if it is serious or not. The very first thing is to check if the dog is feeling ill or simply vomiting because they eat or drink too fast. A dog vomiting because they are eating too fast is very common particularly in rescues or dogs who are eating around other strange dogs.

Eating too fast produces large chunks of undigested material, usually dog food, shortly after the dog is fed. Drinking too fast produces water or white foamy water. This happens. It is not very pleasant, but it does happen to most dogs at one point or another. This also happens when a dog is stressed or anxious. Throwing up once is not usually a cause for concern, and this type of vomiting can be corrected by helping the dog slow down when they are eating and reducing stress and anxiety during meal times.

Although unpleasant it is worth it to take the time to look at the vomit. The strength, consistency, smell, color, and objects in the vomit can provide valuable clues to what the problem is. A dog that is nauseous may also eat grass to coat the esophagus or digestive tract. This is a sign that your dog's stomach is upset and that you need to be cautious.

Other signs that you want to look for are:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing or dry heaving
  • Skin tone
  • Gum color - should be light pink

Remember to check for dehydration. A quick test for dehydration is to pinch a small amount of skin between two fingers and if the skin returns to its natural state quickly, no dehydration is present. If the skin returns to its natural state slowly, there is a good chance that your dog throwing up is causing dehydration.

When to Go to a Vet

veterinarian feeding the dog in the clinic


Making the decision to go to the vet is never an easy one. The general rule is when in doubt have it checked out. Some signs that a vet visit is definitely in order are:

  • The dog is throwing up frequently or continuously
  • The vomit is dark or light red or had dark red chunks of flecks in it this is a sign of intestinal or esophageal bleeding
  • There are other symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea, fever, dehydration
  • The dog throws up every day
  • There are sharp fragments or debris in the vomit
  • The vomit is accompanied by an unwillingness to eat later on
  • Your dog is not taking treats or other favorite foods
  • Projectile vomiting, often a sign of a blockage
  • Decreased or foul-smelling urine, often a sign of dehydration
  • Painful or distended abdomen
  • Unusual objects in the vomit such as plastic, foam, or rocks
  • The dog continues to vomit even though there is nothing coming up
  • Your dog is drinking excessively

This is by no means an all-inclusive list. It does, however, cover some of the most dangerous circumstances. These are signs that a trip to the vet is necessary and vital. Remember it is better to go to the vet and have them say nothing is wrong than to not go and risk your furry pal's life.

Steps to Take When Your Dog Is Throwing Up

There are a few steps that you can take when your dog is throwing up. Please remember that these steps should not replace a visit to the vet if necessary.

Step 1: Determine Whether Your Dog Is Eating or Drinking Too Fast

Step 2: Examine the Vomit

Step 3: Withhold Food and Water

Step 4: If the Vomiting Stops and Ice Chips Remain Where They Should Be after Six Hours Offer Small Amounts of Water

Step 5: If There Is Still No Vomiting after Eight Hours Begin Feeding Small Amounts of High-Quality, Bland, High-Fiber Foods

Feed small amounts of food around every two hours gradually increasing the amount of food until you are back to your normal feeding schedule. A good idea for a bland healthy diet is small amounts of boneless, skinless white meat chicken, and white rice.

dog near bowl with food


During this process, if your dog begins throwing up again, has diarrhea, drinks excessively, or appears sick, take him or her to a vet. Vets will take blood, ask you to describe the vomit, ask about the frequency, examine urine and feces, do x-rays or an ultrasound if a blockage is suspected, and in severe cases perform exploratory surgery.

Possible Causes of Your Dog Throwing Up

There are many situations that cause a dog to start throwing up. Some situations are benign while some are very serious. Some less serious causes are:

  • Eating too fast
  • Drinking too fast
  • Changes in food
  • Changes in feeding times
  • The presence of other dogs during feeding times
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Motion sickness or car sickness

Some of the more serious causes of a dog throwing up are:

  • Eating something toxic or poisonous
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Renal disease or failure
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Dehydration
  • Heat stroke
  • Cancers or the presence of tumors
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Stomach cancer
  • Bowel or stomach obstructions
  • Pancreatitis
  • Addison's disease
  • Diabetes or blood sugar issues

Always remember, if you have any doubts about how serious the vomiting is, see a vet as soon as possible. Even if the cause starts out benign, dehydration can turn serious very quickly. It is always better to have a vet say that nothing is wrong than to have your dog throwing up due to something serious and wait. Only a vet can determine if the dog is seriously ill when vomiting continues.

Pug covering a blanket on bed

Source: Unsplash


Most often a dog throwing up is not particularly serious. It is a way to rid the stomach of its contents. Knowing the signs of serious illness, which breeds are prone to the illness, and what to look for in vomit, although unpleasant, can help you determine why your dog is throwing up. There are also ways to prevent your dog from getting himself or herself into situations where vomiting is a problem. Slowly switching diets, making your dog slow down while eating, and reducing sources of food anxiety can help if you have a dog that chronically vomits for no other reason. Taking steps to stop vomiting once it starts is also very helpful. Each dog is different when it comes to their eating, drinking, and vomiting habits. Although vomiting is not always serious, it should never be taken lightly. Remember when in doubt have a vet check it out.