Why dogs throw up and what to do about it

Dogs are known for their indiscriminate eating habits and as a result there are many upset stomachs and necessary carpet cleanings. If a dog vomits once or twice it is likely nothing to worry about, but more than that can be a sign of a serious or potentially life-threatening illness that requires the attention of a veterinarian.

Unfortunately, there are many reasons a dog may vomit, and vomiting is a symptom of many mild and serious illnesses. How do dog owners know when it is important to see a veterinarian and what is causing your dog’s upset stomach? The good news here is that many of the causes of a dog’s vomiting can be resolved with home treatment alone.

Let’s examine some of the possible causes of dog vomiting.

Common causes of dog vomiting

  • Eat too fast
  • Eat grass
  • Car sickness
  • Diet change
  • Food allergy
  • Foreign body obstruction
  • Poison
  • Medication
  • Infections
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Bloating

stomach pain

One of the most common reasons for a dog to throw yellow bile in the air is their indiscriminate eating habits. As a result, dogs often eat something that isn’t quite right in their tummy. If your dog vomits only once but otherwise appears happy and healthy, it is likely that he just has an upset tummy. The cause may remain unknown, but common reasons include overeating and eating grass.

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Foreign body obstruction

Some dogs eat inedible things like garbage, plastic, socks, chicken bones, and cat feces. It is more common to see this behavior in young dogs and certain breeds, probably out of curiosity. While some items can easily get through the intestines, others can get stuck and quickly lead to an emergency and costly surgery. Prevention is best. So keep your home away from potential hazards and consider exercise methods to prevent tidying up.


In addition to more obvious toxins like rat poison or snail bait, you might be surprised to find that many common household items are actually toxic to dogs. Dogs have been known to end up in coffee, chocolate, pennies, and even common plants that are highly toxic to dogs and cause vomiting. There are also some things that can seem toxic when they are actually harmless, like birth control or some topical creams. If in doubt, it is best to contact your veterinarian or the animal poison control helpline at ASPCA.


Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas caused by many things, including consuming fatty foods. One of the first signs of pancreatitis in dogs is vomiting and loss of appetite. The good news is that most dogs make full recovery from acute pancreatitis with veterinary treatment.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is a term used to describe chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (GI). Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease show symptoms of chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Although the cause is usually not known, it could be due to diet, parasites, or bacteria.


Bloating is an extremely serious condition when a dog’s stomach fills with air and the stomach expands and possibly twists. A clear symptom of gas is vomiting – especially in a dog who appears very nauseous and vomits but does not show up much. A dog with gas can die within hours without veterinary attention. Therefore, if in doubt, contact your veterinarian immediately.

These are just a few of the conditions your dog can throw up. If you are concerned about your dog’s vomiting, contact your veterinarian who will be able to determine the nature of the problem and give you the best advice on your dog’s health.

Tips to help your dog

Otherwise, if your dog appears happy and alert, they may just have a mild upset stomach that can be treated at home. Fast your dog for six hours, then put them on a mild food diet for 24 hours to help their stomach rest. Start with rice water before slowly reintroducing the normal foods.

When to call the vet

How do you know when it’s a real emergency and how do you know when it can wait? To identify an abnormality in your dog, you must first be able to identify what is normal for your dog. Changes in a dog’s behavior or body can be subtle and make a problem difficult to identify. Learn the basics of a physical exam for your dog.

  • If you find that your dog is vomiting multiple times in one day or several days in a row, you should see a veterinarian.
  • If your dog vomits with loss of appetite, diarrhea, blood in the vomit or stool, lethargy, changes in urination, pain, pale gums, or increased thirst, it is important to see a veterinarian immediately.
  • If an examination of the dog’s vomit suggests possible foreign objects or toxicity, see a veterinarian.

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