Dogs vomit for all kinds of reasons, some serious, some not. When is it just something to watch, and when is it an emergency? Here’s what I told a reader who had questions.
Q: I took my dog out to potty, and a few minutes later he started hacking and vomiting up clear liquid. I don’t know if it was caused by something he ate outdoors, the half a pear core he had eaten a few hours earlier (and eventually vomited back up) or the antibiotic he started taking last night.
He seems fine now, but how do I know when vomiting is an emergency?
A: Dogs can throw up easily and for any number of reasons. Sometimes it’s because they get into the garbage or eat something they’re not used to (that pear core, maybe). They may down something disastrous, like rat poison or some other toxin. Internal parasites, certain diseases, stress and, yes, certain antibiotics can all cause your dog to upchuck.
Oftentimes, a dog’s stomach upset is the result of dietary indiscretion, but I never like to assume that. Foreign-body obstruction, ingestion of a rodenticide and bloat are all emergencies that can have fatal (or at best, expensive) results if you wait too long to treat them.
Call your veterinarian and describe what’s happening. The history of the problem gives your veterinarian clues as to whether the problem is urgent.
How do you know if a case of vomiting warrants a visit to the veterinarian? Puppies (and kittens), toy dogs and older animals are more prone to dehydration and may benefit from subcutaneous fluids, so it’s best to take them in sooner rather than later.
Other causes for concern are an increase in the volume or frequency of vomiting or diarrhea; the presence of blood in the vomit or vomit that smells like feces; and persistent retching without bringing anything up, which could suggest bloat. Take your dog in right away if he shows any of these signs.
Read more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.