Home > Pet Health Articles > Why is My Dog Vomiting

dog throwing up

Why Is My Dog Throwing Up?

Dogs may throw up for a variety of reasons. Some are nothing to worry about and others can warrant a trip to the vet. Dog vomit usually has a sour smell. It can contain yellow bile or undigested food. It can be slimy, foamy or a clear liquid. Your dog may start drooling, lip-licking or swallowing when they have an upset tummy. These signs of nausea can signal that your dog needs to vomit. A dog may throw up because they ate their food too quickly, they ate too much grass, or it could be a sign of a chronic or more serious health condition. Below are some of the most common reasons that a dog vomits:

  • Gastrointestinal Condition - Dogs with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD/IBS), ulcers, constipation, colitis, parasites or acid reflux may vomit from an imbalance and inflammation in their digestive tract.

  • Bilious Vomiting Syndrome - Bile is produced by the liver to help with the digestion of fats and protein. It can be irritating to the stomach and can appear as a yellowish foamy substance. When bile leaks into other parts of the digestive system (stomach and small intestine), it can cause vomiting. It usually occurs if your dog has ingested fatty foods or has not eaten frequently enough.

  • Food Allergies - There are many common ingredients in commercial dog foods that can cause acid reflux or digestive upset. Dogs can be allergic to proteins, such as poultry or beef, and grains like corn, wheat gluten and rice. An intolerance or sensitivity to these ingredients can also cause vomiting.

  • Diet Changes - When making diet changes, it is important to make changes slowly. Some dogs can get an upset tummy, vomiting or diarrhea if changes are made too quickly.

  • Bloat - Bloat occurs when the stomach fills with gas and fluid. It is very uncomfortable and can cause the stomach to twist and cut off its blood supply. If your dog has a distended abdomen, shortness of breath, weakness, pale gums and is vomiting bile or retching, it is important to see a veterinarian as bloat is a serious condition.

  • Pancreatitis - Dogs with pancreatitis have very sensitive digestion and require a low fat diet. When dogs with pancreatitis eat high-fat foods, it can trigger a flare-up with symptoms including extreme stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Liver Disease - The liver is responsible for bile production (to help with the digestion of fats and protein) and detoxification. If the liver is compromised, it may not be able to remove enough toxins from the body. Signs of liver disease can include a loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.

  • Kidney Disease - The kidneys filter out toxins in the blood. When kidney function is impaired, the toxins and metabolic waste build up. One of the hallmark symptoms of kidney disease is acid stomach and nausea.

  • Ingestion of Toxic Substances - A dog will likely throw up as a natural reaction. If your dog may have eaten a poisonous plant or ingested a household chemical, it is important to contact your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline at 888-426-4435.

  • Intestinal Obstruction - Dietary indiscretion is more common in puppies and young dogs. The most common causes of intestinal blockages in dogs are toys, rocks, bones and socks. A dog will try to expel the object by vomiting. If it is too far down in the intestines, it can cause bowel obstruction and may require surgical removal. The primary symptoms of a blockage may include vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, and weight loss.

If your dog throws up once and then eats and poops normally, it may just be an isolated incident. It is important to discuss any long-term or chronic vomiting with your vet, as it could be a sign of something more serious.