Vomiting in Pets

Dogs and cats are described as natural purgers, meaning they will vomit quite easily to empty their stomachs of unwanted food/material/fur, etc. It is a safety mechanism to remove things that they feel cannot be digested.

When is vomiting serious?

Just like us vomiting is often precluded by a feeling of nausea.  Signs of nausea included drooling, licking of lips or excessive swallowing.  Vomiting should not be confused with gagging or retching as vomiting involves the stomach muscles contracting (“heaving”).

Dogs will especially vomit when they have eaten something that disagrees with them (“garbage eaters”). In these cases vomiting is usually not continuous and the dog is bright.

What you can do at home:

Withhold food for up to 24 hours. If vomiting persists during this time you need to consult a veterinarian.

Don’t let them drink large amounts of water, but continually offer small amounts. If vomiting persists after a small volume of water consult a veterinarian

After fasting, try a small amount of a bland diet (rice and cooked white meat). If there is no vomiting after 2 hours, continue with some more bland food every 2-3 hours. Gradually change back to a normal diet over 3 days.

A foreign body in the stomach or intestine and bacterial or viral infections can cause serious continual vomiting & will not stop on fasting & diet change.

If vomiting starts again, go to the vet!  Also go to the vet if:

  • Vomiting is frequent or continual
  • There is blood present in the vomit or it has the appearance of coffee grounds
  • Your vomiting animal is a puppy or kitten need extra care and caution
  • Your pet is lethargic
  • Your pet appears to have a fever – if they are panting or feels hot to touch.
  • There is abdominal pain (stretching, groaning) or your pet is restless.
  • Diarrhea develops

What you need to tell the vet:

  • How often your pet has vomited
  • When it last ate and what it ate
  • Describe the vomit (digested? food? grass? colour?)
  • If diarrhea is present and when it started
  • Samples of vomit and or diarrhea are often helpful