Why does your dog to throw up like that? And why does it happen so close to meal time?
It might interest you to know there are two types of vomiting: Acute and Chronic.
Acute vomiting is a sudden episode, usually brought on by eating too much and too fast and generally lasts only a day or two.
Chronic vomiting is ongoing and means that dogs can throw up 1-2 times per day and likely have other symptoms such as weight loss, pain, and depression.
Why Dogs Throw Up After Meals
1. Ate or Drank Too Fast
You know when you see that big blob of vomit near their food bowl? It looks like food, but also has liquid in it. This is a telltale sign that your dog is devouring her food too fast.
This becomes a problem in multi-dog households when one dog regularly eats the food of the other dogs, causing irregular eating habits and food binging. This is a situation where an electronic feeder could solve the problem of a dog needing to eat fast to get food. You might also consider feeding the dogs in separate areas so they feel safe enough to eat at their own pace.
If you see a small puddle of clear liquid near the bowl, your dogs are likely drinking too fast. To alleviate this, keep a full bowl of clean water within their reach at all times so your dogs can slurp water (and make a huge mess) whenever they want!
2. Ate Too Much
We know that dogs can get super excited about meal time and basically inhale their food within minutes. This can lead to throwing up right after eating. There is only so much space in a dog's stomach.
Some people use special bowls designed to slow down puppers. Outward Hound make slow feeder bowls in bright colors that look kind of like round mazes. They are specifically designed to slow down your dog while she eats and they are pretty groovy looking.
3. Eating Non-Food Items
This odd eating habit is commonly known as Pica and is more common than you might think, especially for puppies. One of the more common forms of Pica is Coprophagy, or eating poop. This is that annoying habit when your doggo knicks the poop out of the litter box or tries to eat a tasty poop treat on a walk. Not only is this a weird and gross habit, it also can cause problems for your doggo. For starters, it can cause them to... you guessed it... throw up. It can also cause a loss of appetite, drooling, lethargy and problems pooping.
Much of the time, Pica is just a behavioral thing with dogs. Sometimes it is a symptom of an underlying condition like liver disease, parasites, malnutrition, or anemia. If your pup is eating things they should not be eating, it might be a good idea to give them other things to play with like JW dog toys or Kong treat holders. They could just be plain bored. They could also be anxious and some calming products like Vetri SCience Composure or could do the trick.
A last reason dogs have Pica is fear of being punished. If you are having a difficult time with your dog, we highly recommend you invest in some training for both of you. You will both be a lot happier.
6. Food Ingredients
We all love to give our dogs the best quality food and treats, but generally don't pay attention to all of the ingredients on the label. If your treats have dyes, surfactants, emulsifiers, additives and preservatives, then your dog might be having issues with those things in their food.
One of the best ways to know what your dog is eating is to READ THE LABEL before you buy food for them.
Typical dry food label
This food, which is of decent quality and highly rated, is still full of lots of added preservatives and chemicals.
Typical wet food label
This wet food, which lists lamb as the first ingredient, still has lots of preservatives and added nutrients.
It is misleading to assume that all of these preservatives and vitamins and minerals are GOOD or BAD for your dog. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about what works for your dog based on trying different foods until you find one that works.
5. Commercially processed bones
As we mentioned earlier, dogs love to eat things over than food. They also love to chew on things like bones and sticks. Inevitably, they will be digesting some of that bone and wood, which may cause digestive problems and throwing up.
There is a lot of conflicting information available about giving dogs bones, what kinds of bones they can safely chew, and how much you need to keep an eye on puppers while she is gnawing away on her bone. Our best advice is to talk to your vet about bones. They will have lots of experience with dogs eating bones and can suggest bones that are safe for doggo.
Our friends at Dogtime have a comprehensive list of things to consider when choosing a bone for your dog.
If your pup just JUST HAS TO CHEW, then consider getting her a Nylabone, which is designed for gnawing without breaking down or splintering.
6. Plants and Trees
Some of our favorite house and garden plants are actually poisonous to cats. American Kennel Club has a list of plants, shrubs and trees that are poisonous to dogs. The list below is reprinted from the AKC article:
- Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.)
- Oleander (Nerium oleander)
- Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
- Black Walnut tree
- Fruit trees - it's the pits, baby...
- Horse Chestnut
- Japanese Yew
- Nut trees - too many nuts to eat...
- Lily of the Valley
- Tulip and Hyacinth
What about grass?
Eating grass is another form of Pica in dogs and does frequently cause dogs to vomit after eating some. Studies have shown that dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons, including improving digestion, getting a nutritional component they need and treating worms. Interestingly, only 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass. It does raise questions about why dogs eat grass. It could just be that they are dogs and it is grass and why not?
When should you worry about dogs eating grass? When there may be pesticides applied to the grass to keep it lush and bug free. If you are out and about and doggo decides to munch on somebody's lawn, redirect her with some yummy freeze dried chicken treats.
7. It's the Food
If you decide to switch your dog's food, be sure to do so slowly. Introducing a new food too quickly can cause doggo's digestive system to overreact. A good ratio for transitioning is 1/4 new food days 1 to 3, growing to to 3/4 new food by days 7 to 10.
If your dog suddenly starts throwing up after meals and you have not changed the food, you might consider checking to see if the pet food company has changed the formula. Most pet food companies will change formulas without sharing this information with their customers, sometimes with negative results.
Dog food, just like human food, does expire. Keep that label handy in case your dog begins throwing up. The information you are preserving is the product code and batch. If you put your food into a sealable container, be sure to cut out that part of the label and tape it to the container.
A good rule of thumb is offered by Great Pet Care:
- Kibble and Wet foods can last up to 2 years
- Frozen foods can last a few months
- Fresh foods can last a few weeks
If your dog needs a little extra help when dealing with a food transition issue, you can feed them plain pureed pumpkin, which is a great source of soluble fiber. Or try a probiotic to give their stomach flora a boost.
8. Regurgitating Food
There are two types of food ejection process that a dog uses. One is vomiting, which means that the food is partially digested and is coming back up from the stomach and upper intestine. Forgive the graphic detail, but it is an important distinction. The other way dogs eject food is regurgitation and happens while the food is still in the esophagus, BEFORE the food has begun to digest.
Regurgitation generally happens due to issues, or constrictions in the esophagus. You can tell if the food is regurgitated because your doggo will likely want to eat that food again. We've all seen our dogs throw up and then eat it shortly after.
Another way to tell if food is regurgitated is that your dog is not heaving to expel the food, but leans over and the food sort of falls out of her mouth.
We get so bonded to our dogs and know that they get separation anxiety and can even get stressed and depressed. Dog stress shows up in many forms, including tucked ears and tails, drooling, pacing, hiding, and... you guessed it... vomiting.
Stress can be brought about by many things. You may love riding in the car, but puppers may get car sick. Or he might worry that every time you get in the car you're headed to that mean old doctor again. Having a dog throw up in the car is never any fun.
So... if your fur baby is stressed by car rides, give them a nice calming treat before hand. And, be sure to take them on car trips to the park and the cafe and the beach so they know car rides = fun!
10. An Underlying Condition
Last, but certainly not least is that if your dog continues to throw up and has other symptoms, it could mean there is a more serious underlying condition that needs your attention. Here are a few serious ones below:
- Liver Disease is caused by toxins in the kidney or liver, poor flow of fluids creating blockages, drugs or medications that damage the liver and excessive heat.
- Pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas caused by a blockage or damage to the pancreas.
- Cushings Syndrome is a common endocrine disease of middle aged dogs caused by the dog's adrenal glands producing too much cortisol.
- Parvovirous is a highly contagious virus that spreads quickly among unvaccinated dogs and young puppies.
Call The Vet If...
If you see your cat vomiting and any of these symptoms below are also present, call your vet right away:
- repeated vomiting
- cannot keep water down
- lethargy or listlessness
- cold, dry, pale, or yellow gums
- blood in the vomit
- blood in the stool
Help Them Feel Better
If your dog is throwing up and dealing with an illness, there are a couple of things you can do right away to make her feel better.
The first is stop feeding any foods until 6-8 hour after the last time they threw up. When you do reintroduce foods, slowly introduce a bland diet of white cooked (unseasoned) chicken and rice.
Make sure you have water on hand as they are likely be be dehydrated. Just keep an eye on them when they drink so they don't ingest too much water and start the vomit cycle all over again.
And get them situated in a cozy space next to you. Comforting goes such a long way with loved ones who don't feel good.
Freebie! Other Resources:
We're love us some great research. We encourage you to learn as much as you can about why dogs throw up and what you can do about it. Below are some extra resources for you to read!
- Washington State University, Veterinary School - Vomiting Pets
- Pet MD - What Causes Pica in Dogs?
- The Spruce Pets - How to Stop Your Puppy from Eating Everything
- Canine Journal - Can Dogs Eat Bones? The Ultimate Guide to What's Safe and What's Not
- Reader's Digest - 16 Plants That Are Poisonous to Dogs
- Blue Pearl Vet - Dog Vomiting: When Should You Be Concerned?
- Fetch by WebMD - Causes of Dog Vomiting
- Pet Health Network - When Is It Time to Panic? Evaluating Emergency Situations
- VCA Pet Hospitals - Vomiting in Dogs