There are a number of potential causes of a dog’s upset stomach. Many pets eat foreign objects like rocks, pieces of toys and so forth. These objects can cause a critical situation for your pet, as the vomiting can be incessant and intense. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a dog to vomit repeatedly (e.g. several times per hour) if they’ve eaten a foreign object. Some pets may try to drink large amounts of water, which will come up again within a few minutes.
If you observe this behavior in your dog, it’s a sign of a serious problem . Acute vomiting can be associated with a potentially deadly situation. Other signs of a problem that warrant a trip to the veterinary clinic include:
- Vomiting blood;
- Vomiting without any improvement within 24 hours;
- Vomiting a dark, coffee grounds-like material;
- Projectile vomiting;
- Salivation and drooling (note: salivation can occur right before vomiting and this is normal, but if you see this occur more frequently, it’s a sign of a serious issue);
- The presence of other symptoms.
Other symptoms that indicate a very serious problem include hives, facial swelling, collapse/fainting, pale gums, fever, painful abdomen, difficulty walking and so on.
If your dog is only vomiting, and appears okay otherwise, it’s generally safe to wait for up to 24 hours. You should observe improvement within this period of time, or at minimum, you should not see the pet’s condition worsening.
Once vomiting is observed more than once, it’s best to remove access to food for at least 12 hours; typically, a 24-hour fast is recommended to allow the pet’s stomach to settle. To limit the chances of recurrent vomiting, wait at least six hours after vomiting before attempting to feed a small amount of bland food such as boiled skinless chicken, white rice, cottage cheese or boiled hamburger (with the fat drained away.) If the dog holds down the small meal for 3 hours, it’s typically safe to feed another small meal. Repeat this process and gradually increase the amount you feed the pet. Then, gradually switch back to the pet’s normal food over the course of 3-4 days.
Vomiting is primarily dangerous due to the risk of dehydration, combined with low blood sugar that can occur when a pet doesn’t eat. Other imbalances, such as electrolyte imbalances, can also pose a danger. So if your pet is sick for 24 hours or longer, you must take your pet to the vet for an examination and fluid injections that will serve to normalize the animal’s fluid levels.
Your vet may instruct you to provide your pet with glucose supplements and other medications such as Pepto Bismol and acid reducers to help promote recovery.
It’s important to note that if your pet has an underlying condition such as diabetes, Addison’s disease or another condition, vomiting can be a sign of a much more serious problem and the animal’s decline can be very rapid. The same is also true in very young or elderly pets. So if your pet is not completely healthy, seek immediate help if your pet vomits without a benign cause (e.g. a new food) and fails to recover within a few hours.