If you’re a proud pooch parent, you’ve probably come downstairs at some point to a pile of yellow dog vomit. Not the most pleasant, is it? But it’s not uncommon for dogs to vomit now and again. So, what are the causes of dog vomiting that need veterinary attention? And how do you know whether your dog just needs a bland diet and some TLC, or they need an urgent veterinary check-up from the BetterVet team?
Which causes of vomiting require veterinary attention?
Many mild cases of vomiting in dogs will respond to a bland diet of chicken, rice, white fish, or scrambled eggs and small, frequent meals. You can find out more about treating a tummy upset at home here. However, in some situations, they need urgent veterinary care, so it's essential not to waste time nursing them at home. So, when could your dog’s vomiting be more than you can deal with at home? Here are some serious causes of vomiting in dogs and what to look out for:
Bloat (Gastric Dilation or Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus)
One of the most severe dog health issues, Gastric Dilation or Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, is when the stomach fills with gas and sometimes twists. Large and giant breeds with deep chests are most prone to this condition, and it’s particularly common in dogs who have run around soon after eating. As the stomach fills with air, it expands. This causes pressure on the surrounding blood vessels and the lungs, preventing good circulation and oxygenation. If the stomach has twisted, the blood supply to the stomach wall, pancreas, and spleen can become obstructed entirely, leading to the death of these tissues if surgery isn't prompt. If your dog has a GD or GDV, you might notice their stomach is very rounded, and you might see them vomiting or retching. Once the stomach has twisted, no fluid can leave the stomach, so your dog may try to vomit, but nothing is produced. Bloat is an emergency that requires immediate veterinary care.
Some dogs aren’t the most sensible creatures, and they occasionally eat non-edible objects. Some everyday foreign things that dogs might take a liking to are socks, tights, bones, stones, balls, and other toys. If you and your canine companion are fortunate, the object they eat will be small enough to pass through their guts without causing problems. However, sadly foreign objects frequently get stuck in the guts, causing a blockage that leads to vomiting. Other symptoms you might notice are weakness, stretching out or groaning as if in pain, and bringing up water after drinking. You might also spot that your dog hasn’t passed any poop for a while. Sometimes foreign objects stay in the stomach and 'bob' around, causing chronic vomiting.
Many toxic substances could cause your dog to vomit, from lily poisoning to grape poisoning. Many plants, foods, and human drugs are poisonous to dogs. Yellow vomit in dogs alongside a history of scavenging could indicate that your poorly pooch has eaten something they shouldn’t have. Your dog could develop vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, weakness, seizures, increased thirst, or a reduced appetite depending on the toxin.
Addison’s disease is caused by an underactive adrenal gland. The adrenal glands play an important role in fluid regulation and stress response by releasing hormones like cortisol. A reduction in these hormones can lead to an Addisonian crisis, characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, collapse, and a slow heart rate. Sadly, without prompt diagnosis and treatment, Addison’s can be fatal.
When you think of diabetes symptoms, you probably think of increased thirst, weight loss, cataracts, and a change in appetite perhaps. But there's another symptom of diabetes that only appears if left untreated. In diabetic patients, their blood sugar is persistently high. Eventually, they develop ketosis due to the change in their metabolism. Ketosis causes nausea and vomiting and can quickly be life-threatening. It’s common to see yellow vomit in diabetic dogs because they haven’t eaten for a while.
Gastritis or gastroenteritis
Infections caused by viruses or bacteria can cause vomiting. Sometimes these are self-limiting, but others need medication. If your dog cannot keep food or water down, or if they are acting weak, lethargic, or otherwise unwell, it's best to speak to a veterinarian.
Some types of cancer can cause inflammation in the stomach or intestine, which causes vomiting. Equally, some cancerous tumors can block the stomach's exit or even obstruct the intestine. Cancer can cause chronic vomiting, but you might also notice your dog losing weight and seeming weak or uncomfortable.
Side effects of medication
It's crucial to seek veterinary advice if your dog starts vomiting while taking medication. It could be that vomiting is a known side effect of the drug, or perhaps it's completely unrelated. Either way, your vet will need to report the possible reaction. Even if the vomiting is unrelated to the medication, certain drugs, especially anti-inflammatories, shouldn’t be given if your dog is vomiting.
Many health conditions can affect the liver, and the symptoms will vary. Yellow vomit in dogs is usually bile, and so it's common to see yellow vomit with liver disease. However, you might notice yellow or orange skin, gums, eyes, and urine, as well as general lethargy, weight loss, and a poor appetite.
Kidney failure can result from certain poisonings, like lilies, grapes, and antifreeze. However, sometimes the kidneys lose their function as part of old age or even due to infection. If your dog has kidney failure, they tend to feel quite nauseous, and it's pretty common for them to vomit. Other symptoms include increased thirst, peeing more frequently, weight loss, and reduced appetite.
When should I take my vomiting dog to the vet?
It's really important not to ignore vomiting in dogs because it could be something serious. If your dog can't keep food or water down, it won't take long for them to become weak and dehydrated. While some mild stomach upsets will respond to a bland diet for a few days, if your dog is acting unwell, has other symptoms, or just isn't improving after a few days, you should contact your veterinarian.
What illnesses cause vomiting in dogs?
Many illnesses can cause vomiting in dogs, from hormonal conditions like diabetes and Addison's disease to simple stomach upsets and gastritis. Not every bout of vomiting needs treatment from your vet, but it's important to recognize the signs that mean it’s more serious.
What is the most common reason for dogs to vomit?
The most common causes of vomiting in dogs are dietary indiscretion and stomach bugs. Dogs who eat things out of the bin or help themselves to a tasty treat that wasn’t meant for them are likely to vomit, and various bacteria and viruses can cause vomiting symptoms.
Many cases of vomiting will settle without medication, especially if they're just due to eating a bit too much of the wrong thing or a change in diet. However, if your dog seems unwell, has other symptoms, or isn’t keeping water down, it’s best to get them checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.