Why Do Dogs Throw Up?

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

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Just like humans, dogs get sick and throw up occasionally. When your dog is vomiting, it can be distressing and messy. So, why do dogs throw up?

Why Do Dogs Throw Up?

Dogs vomit for a variety of reasons. However, sometimes vomiting can be a sign that something is wrong with your dog, and you should seek veterinary advice immediately as it can be an emergency.

Vomiting vs Regurgitating

Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth, as a result of the stomach muscles rapidly contracting. Sometimes dog vomiting is confused with regurgitation, which is when dog food or drink is expelled from the esophagus or mouth before it reaches the stomach. Regurgitation usually occurs due to choking or esophageal disorders.

How to Tell When Your Dog is About to Throw Up

Just as humans tend to know that they need to vomit, so do pups. Knowing when your dog is vomiting or about to throw up can make it easier to get them outside in time.

Dogs often exhibit behavior to suggest they’re about to throw up, which can include licking their lips, drooling, and swallowing excessively. They may also take deep breaths.

Reasons for Vomiting in Dogs

If you’ve ever owned a pet, then you know how hard it is to train them to only eat their dog food and some store-bought or homemade treats. One of the biggest causes of vomiting in dogs stems from their willingness to eat anything they lay their paws on.

When pups eat something that they shouldn’t, or if something disagrees with their stomach, your dog’s body will protect itself by throwing up to expel the item.

Nausea and vomiting is also common side effect of motion sickness, which your dog could be experiencing, if they have been running around in circles and become dizzy, or if they are unaccustomed to traveling by vehicle.

Diet Change

If your dog is vomiting, it could be due to food allergies or eating something it’s not used to. Like human beings, some pups have sensitive stomachs. So changing their dog food suddenly can be part of the causes of vomiting and make them vomit. If your dog ate too fast, it can also throw up. 

Eating Something Toxic

If your dog is throwing up, it may have consumed toxic food from the trash or something that’s not edible. If you noticed the dog ingested something that might be toxic, call your vet immediately.


Unlike diet change, gastritis is usually accompanied by other symptoms like diarrhea and black stools. These symptoms are usually caused by an inflammation of the stomach lining. A vet appointment is necessary to determine why your dog is throwing up.


Similar to gastritis, pancreatitis is a serious condition that requires to be examined by me as it can be an underlying cause for your dog’s pancreas to be inflamed.

Apart from retching, other symptoms include stomach pain, fever, and diarrhea. If your dog is vomiting and has any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation.


This is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Like diet change, bloating happens when your dog is eating too quickly. Symptoms include enlargement of your dog’s stomach, restlessness, throwing up, and salvation.

However, vomiting can also be indicative of a number of serious conditions, including:

  • Addison’s disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Gastrointestinal problems like ulcers or gastroenteritis
  • Head trauma
  • Infections (bacterial, viral, or fungal)
  • Inflammation of the stomach or Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intestinal obstruction, which could be caused by a tumor, displacement, or foreign body
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatic disease
  • Parasites
  • Side effects of taking certain medications
  • Some varieties of cancer

When to Seek Veterinary Assistance

If your dog is bright and alert and only has one vomiting episode, veterinary assistance is not necessary. However, if your dog has vomited more than once, or exhibits any of the following symptoms, contact me for advice.

  • Blood in the vomit
  • Vomit that is green
  • Projectile vomiting
  • If your dog is heaving and trying to be sick, but nothing is expelled
  • A bloated or swollen stomach
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased urination
  • Gums that are pale or yellow
  • Lethargy/depression
  • Your dog appears to be in pain

You should also schedule a consultation if your dog is not up to date with all his vaccinations, is a puppy, or if you believe he has eaten something toxic or poisonous. A quick veterinary check-up would be ideal.

Over the phone, I may ask you several questions to help him establish how severe the vomiting is, and how quickly your pet should be seen.

Visiting Your Veterinarian

For me to make an accurate diagnosis and start the correct treatment immediately, it would be helpful if you answered questions such as:

When did the vomiting start? How long has your dog been throwing up? How many episodes of vomiting has your dog had? What does the vomit look like? What color is it?

Is there any reason to believe that your pet has ingested a toxic substance or foreign object? Are there any other concerning symptoms and if so, what are they?

I will use these answers, along with general information about your pet to establish a cause of vomiting. In some instances, imaging tests such as x-ray or CT scan may be necessary.

Dog Vomiting Treatment Options

Just like humans, empathize with your dog when they’re ill and give them the treatment, care, and love they need to speed up their recovery process. 

If I rule out serious conditions, I may advise you not to feed your dog for 24 hours or even 48 hours. If your pet’s fluid levels are okay, I might recommend you don’t give any water to your dog for 24 hours.

If your pet stops throwing up during this period, I will recommend giving your dog small portions of bland food such as white rice and steamed chicken before introducing their regular dog food again. 

Related Questions

When Should You be Concerned About Your Dog Throwing Up?

You should be concerned about your dog throwing up if it vomits more than one day or several times in one day. It’s also essential to schedule a consultation if you notice blood in their vomit or if your dog has lost appetite. 

What Is Chronic Dog Vomiting?

Chronic vomiting is when your dog is vomiting for a long period and can be occasional or constant. In puppies, it can be caused by food sensitivity or parasites while in mature dogs it can be caused by bone or garbage ingestion. Ultrasounds or x-rays can help diagnose the problem.


Although vomiting is not always a sign of something serious, prompt identification of the cause and the right treatment can help your pet feel well again. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us for advice and support.