If your dog is vomiting, most people will rightly get a little worried. Dogs are very good at vomiting as a natural process to clear things they regret eating as well when they are actually ill. This short guide can give a little help when deciding if you need to call a vet or monitor closely for a short time first.
True Vomiting vs Regurgitation?
It may seem like we are splitting hairs, but there is a difference!
Vomiting is when a dog fetches up partially digested food. Regurgitation is when a dog throws up undigested food.
More often than not, you know it’s vomit because the dog will display warning signs such as retching noises, drooling and a contraction of their ribs and tummy (much like when we vomit).
Regurgitation often occurs soon after they’ve eaten and the regurgitated material will likely be visibly different to vomit. Dogs tend to regurgitate food without warning.
It’s important to recognise the difference between regurgitation and vomiting as they may be signs of different conditions.
There are many reasons that dogs get sickness and diarrhoea. These include; reaction to food, worms, stomach infections such as gastroenteritis or the ingestion of a poisons/foreign bodies.
The colour of our dogs’ vomit will vary depending on the cause.
Yellow vomit as a one off is usually less of a concern. Typically, it will consist mainly of bile but in a lesser quantity than in green vomit.
What to do: Clean up and monitor for any other signs of illness. If the vomiting continues, contact your vet.
Most of the time dogs vomit is green if they’ve ingested a large quantity of grass. It could also mean that they’re just vomiting up bile.
Be careful to check for green lumps or chalky material, this can be rat poison (this comes in various pastel colours including blue and red).
More often than not, what is thought to be white vomit is actually your dog coughing up white foam, this can be common in some mild upper respiratory tract infections.
If it is a true vomit of the white liquid it may be an upset stomach from ingesting a small amount of grass. If the white vomit is when your dog hasn’t eaten in a while, it may be bile from their stomach.
If it’s a true vomit of white foam your dog is likely suffering from gastrointestinal problems or potential bloat. In these cases, they may be trying and failing to vomit. This is classed as an emergency and will need immediate veterinary attention.
What to do: Determine exactly what you are seeing, it can be very important. If it’s liquid vomit, keep an eye out to see if symptoms continue and call your vet if they do. If your dog is coughing up white foam, contact your vet as soon as you can. If it’s a true vomit of white foam call a vet as an emergency.
Red vomit is usually a sign that your dog is vomiting blood. If the blood is fresh (a normal shade of red), this could mean imflammation or irritation of their stomach lining or be due to poison ingestion.
If blood is a darker red, it has likely been in your dog’s stomach for a longer period. This can be a sign of a stomach ulcer.
What to do: If your dog is vomiting blood contact your vet right away.
Black vomit is rare and can be from mud or dirt that your dog ingested accidently while they were playing or deliberately if a soil eater.
However if black vomit has a similar appearance to coffee granules, look at it very closely and rub some between tissue paper; if you find that it’s actually a very, very dark red, this may be a sign of a stomach ulcer or an undigested toxin.
What to do: If your dog produces vomit that is a very dark red rather than black, call the vet immediately.
Dark brown vomit
It is pretty grim, but dark brown vomit, especially when it has that tell tale smell is from your dog eating too much poop (as if there is a correct amount of poop to eat!).
Far less commonly it can be a sign that there’s a blockage in their intestines.
What to do: If your dog repeatedly vomits up faeces when they haven’t had access to any contact your vet. If you know or suspect your dog is eating poop, try to reduce it as best you can and remember to worm them regularly.