All dogs vomit occasionally. Maybe they ate too much or too fast or got into the trash or chewed up some cardboard. One episode does not create a medical emergency.
According to the veterinarian, Dr. Bari Spielman, there are many possible causes of vomiting including:
1) Eating inappropriate food or non-food items; 2) bad reaction to regular food; 3) infections; 4) drugs; 5) intestinal or abdominal obstructions; 6) certain metabolic diseases; 7) abdominal disorders; 8) inflammatory bowel disease; or 9) cancer of the gastrointestinal tract.
There a few other uncommon-but-serious causes which would have to be ruled out if simple home treatment doesn’t work.
Spielman warns pet owners to watch for signs of problems like intermittent vomiting, changes in appetite, weight loss, lethargy, diarrhea, increased thirst and presence of blood in vomit of stool.
Obviously, if your dog has a serious problem, the symptoms will linger and multiply. For cases where you are almost-certain the episodes are not serious, you can watch and wait while you perform some basic home care.
Some of the common, less-serious causes of vomiting are given along with steps a watchful owner can take. Remember a small dog can become dehydrated quickly and if these simple steps don’t work, you must get your dog to the vet.
New food and other common causes of vomiting:
Change of diet: If your dog is beginning a new food, he might vomit the first time. To prevent vomiting for this reason, add about 1/3 of the new food to the old familiar food for about 3 days; then 2/3 for 3 days; and then you can switch over to the new.
If your dog acts normally after a bout of vomiting – if he is playful and has a normal bowel movement – you shouldn’t need to worry.
If you know he got into the garbage or ate something he shouldn’t have-like a Kleenex–that too should pass. Keep the garbage covered and avoid future problems by preventing them. Dog-proof your house. If you suspect (s)he over-ate or gobbled the food down too quickly or got into some spoiled food, you can almost expect the dog to experience a single bout of vomiting.
If your dog vomits several times, and you cannot get him to the vet quickly, try these home remedies. (Dr. Primovic)
1. Give only prescribed medications. You should check if your vet wants medications continued during the watchful phase.
2. No food or water for three hours. Sometimes a dog will eat even though it makes him vomit again. Give the stomach a chance to rest.
3. If the dog hasn’t vomited again in the three-hour-rest-period, you can offer him a few tablespoons of water every 20 minutes until he is rehydrated. He must not drink too much and set off another round of vomiting.
4. If all goes well, you can begin to offer small quantities of bland food. Vets often recommend the tried-and-true Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d; Iams Recovery Diet, Provision EN; or Waltham Low Fat, which may be readily attainable at your pet store.
For home-cooked meals, you can prepare boiled rice or potatoes (carbs) along with protein such as “lean hamburger, skinless chicken or low-fat cottage cheese.”
Maintain bland diet for two days.
5. To decrease stomach acid, many vets recommend the oral, human, OTC medication, Pepcid AC (Famotidine). Dr. Primovic suggests amounts of 0.25 to .5 mg. per pound (or 0.5 to 1.0 mg/kg) of dog every 12 to 24 hours. Try this for 3 to 5 days.
6. If all goes well, you can try to get the dog back on his normal diet…gradually. Add some regular food into the bland diet for one meal. Then go 50/50 for a meal. Then try ¾ of his regular food with the bland diet for one meal. No vomiting? Try him back on a normal diet.
7. Observe your dog’s bowel movements, urine output, and any more bouts of vomiting. If you have a fenced yard, you can watch from the window and go out to check. If you must leash-walk the dog, do so.
When to call your vet:
If all does not go well, and your dog acts lethargic, refuses to eat, continues to vomit or does not return to normal, see your vet. (S)he may request some diagnostic tests and make treatment recommendations.
Dr. Primovic warns that if the dog is losing weight, if you see blood in the vomit or if (s)he is retching but can’t vomit, see a vet immediately. The latter condition could be due to “bloat” and is considered to be a medical emergency.
Dr. Debra Primovic. “Home Care for the Vomiting Dog.” Http://www.petplace.com. Over 10,000 vet-approved articles written by 85 vets are listed in Petplace.com, which is overseen by the 28-year practicing vet, Dr. Jon Rappaport. Intelligent Content Corp. Retrieved 6-7-10.
Dr. Bari Spielman. “Chronic Vomiting in Dogs.” Http://www.petplace.com. Pet information site with all vet-approved articles. “Overview.” “General Causes.” “What to Watch For.” Intelligent Content Corp. Retrieved 6-7-10.