Why is My Dog Throwing Up Undigested Food? 

Why is my dog throwing up undigested food? Don’t worry. You’re not the only dog parent to see your pet experience this. When a dog’s stomach is interrupted in its routine operations, it suffers from a condition called ‘stasis.’ This condition causes the dog’s stomach to slow down, leading to gas build-up. Gas in the stomach is uncomfortable for all animals, including dogs.

Thankfully, dogs have well-developed vomiting centers in their brains. This allows them to throw up undigested food much easier than most animals. A dog throwing up food is common because it’s an evolutionary defense mechanism. Dogs are scavengers by nature. They eat a lot of things without thinking twice. When they eat inedible items, their stomachs vomit them out – the same way they came in. 

This process happens relatively quickly and is not the same as vomiting. The technical term for this process is ‘regurgitation,’ which happens moments after the dog eats an inedible or indigestible item. Vomiting is different. It’s the ejection of all contents in the dog’s stomach and upper intestine. Vomiting happens a long time after the dog has eaten something. Even a dog that hasn’t eaten in a while can vomit. 

The technical term for this process is ‘emesis.’ So, seeing a puppy vomiting undigested food moments after eating is nothing to worry about. But, if your dog’s throwing up food hours after eating consistently, it’s probably a sign of an underlying disease. Here’s everything that dog parents need to know about dealing with such situations.

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My Dog Just Threw Up Food: Is it Vomiting or Regurgitating?

Vomiting is an active & laborious process. Dogs have to retch a lot to vomit. Dog vomit typically consists of partially digested food items and a yellow fluid (bile). On the other hand, regurgitation is a passive and simple process. Dogs will simply lower their heads and expel inedible or indigestible items from their mouths without putting in much effort. The food brought up by regurgitation may be covered in slimy mucus. But it won’t be covered in bile. 

Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Undigested Food?

If your dog’s throwing up kibble, it’s a clear sign that something’s wrong with pet’s stomach. It can be a reaction to a medication, exposure to allergic substances, or a stomach issue caused by motion sickness. To understand the exact cause, you’ll have to assess your pet’s recent activities. Also, evaluate the appearance of the vomit to determine whether your dog has been vomiting or regurgitating food. 

If it’s vomit and your dog is vomiting regularly, contacting a veterinarian is the best solution. Only a vet can determine the exact cause behind your dog’s vomiting. Vets perform thorough physical examinations to narrow down the list of potential causes. Some of the most common reasons for a dog vomiting undigested food include –

  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Stomach infections
  • Liver failure
  • Bladder obstructions or ruptures
  • Parasites (e.g., roundworms, whipworms, etc.)
  • Gastric stasis or bloating of the stomach 
  • Tumors
  • Heat stress 
  • Ingestion of poisonous or allergic substances
  • Endocrine disease
  • Diabetes
  • Addison’s disease
  • Ingestion of hair during grooming
  • Stomach ulcers 

Contact a vet immediately if your dog just threw up food and has a fever, abdominal pains, and other health issues. If not, try to treat this condition at home by not giving your dog food for a few hours. Many healthy dogs vomit for simple, harmless reasons. For instance, eating too fast can result in the dog not digesting food and throwing up. 

So, keeping your pet hungry for a few hours will help you determine the seriousness of the situation. If the dog still vomits on an empty stomach, there’s probably an obstruction inside pup’s digestive system. In that case, contacting your vet is the best decision.

What Should I Do If My Puppy is Vomiting Food?

A dog not digesting food properly and vomiting it out is nothing to worry about. But that’s not the only reason dogs vomit. To ensure nothing serious is causing your dog to vomit food, have your pet diagnosed by a vet. Vets use a variety of tools to diagnose these types of stomach issues. They include –

  • Performing comprehensive physical examinations
  • Assessing the dog’s medical history
  • Evaluating the dog’s recent activities
  • Imaging studies like ultrasound or x-ray 
  • Lab tests like stool tests, urine tests, etc.

Your vet will also peek inside your dog’s mouth to look for the presence of foreign objects (e.g., bones). They’ll also take your dog’s temperature. Bring samples of your dog’s vomit to the clinic to simplify the diagnostic process. Many clues could be contained in your dog’s vomit. Here are some examples –

  • An old dog throwing up undigested food is a common occurrence. This type of vomit typically contains a lot of mucus. It’s typically caused by inflamed intestines. 
  • Younger dogs throwing up undigested food can be caused by overeating, food poisoning, or stress. This type of vomit doesn’t contain too much mucus or bile. 
  • If there’s red blood in the vomit, the dog’s stomach or intestines could have ulcers or tumors. Typically, dogs with stomach or intestine ulcers vomit brown blood. 
  • If your dog vomits food whole and the vomit is mucus & odor-free – it’s probably just regurgitation. 
  • The odor of the vomit may also reveal the cause. For instance, if your dog’s vomit has strong digestive odors, it’s a sign that your pet is suffering from intestinal obstructions. 

Your vet will assess all these clues in your dog’s vomit to determine the seriousness of the situation. 

Treatment for a Puppy Vomiting Food

Treatment for a puppy vomiting food will depend on the underlying cause. If it’s nothing severe & just a passing incident, the vet will recommend supervised short-term fasting. This will rest the dog’s digestive tract. Vets also ask dog owners to feed their pets bland, easily digestible foods for a week to relax their stomachs. Medications like prescription antibiotics or probiotics are only administered when a serious condition is detected in the dog’s stomach. 

Here’s a helpful video on what dog owners should do immediately after they see them vomit. 

Follow these steps to manage this issue at home. Then, if the vomiting episodes still continue, consult with your vet for guidance. 

Thanks for the blog graphics: Canva.com

Thanks for the blog graphics: Canva.com

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