Just like people, dogs sometimes throw up. Questions about vomiting are one of the most common reasons pet owners call the vet, and it makes sense. Watching your dog throw up can be scary and unnerving!
Here’s what to do in the first two hours after your dog throws up.
0-30 Minutes In: Clean and Examine
For the most part, dog vomiting is not an emergency. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, but unless your dog’s vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s probably nothing to panic over. The best thing you can do after your dog vomits is to clean the vomit, inspect it, and move him to a location that won’t get too messy (like the kitchen floor) in case it happens again.
What are you looking for in your dog’s vomit? Keep your eyes peeled for anything that looks out of place and might indicate why your dog vomited. Are there chewed up bits of a rope toy? Do you see gum wrappers? Maybe there are just a lot of blades of grass? Also take note of the consistency, color, and amount of vomit; you could even take a picture with your phone. This information might be helpful for your vet later on.
30-60 Minutes In: Close Observation
What happens next greatly depends on 1) what other symptoms your dog is showing and 2) what you found in the initial vomit. If your dog isn’t showing additional symptoms, you didn’t find anything unusual, and doesn’t vomit again, you’re in the clear! If that changes, it’s a good idea to call your vet.
Which symptoms are you watching for? Vomiting accompanied by weakness, lethargy, seizures, or more vomiting indicates you should call your vet and take your dog to an emergency veterinary clinic right away. Vomiting itself is a symptom, so combined with other symptoms it can make a pretty powerful case for something being “off.”
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If you see anything unusual in your dog’s vomit – blood, toxic food substances, wrappers, pills – you should also consult with an emergency veterinary clinic. In cases of accidental ingestion, time is of the essence. When your dog is vomiting because he ate something he shouldn’t have, his body might not be able to process the substance through vomiting alone.
1-2 Hours In: Back to Normal
If your dog’s GI upset necessitated a trip to the vet, your veterinarian will tell you what to do next. It’s possible she’ll run some diagnostic lab work to check for infections or parasites, and she also may want to administer IV fluids if your dog has become dehydrated. If your dog ingested something problematic, she may need to treat him using activated charcoal or even stomach surgery.
When dog vomiting is a one-and-done deal, you’re probably in the clear! You’ll want to keep a close eye on your dog for the rest of the day to make sure no other symptoms pop up, but you can generally feel safe to get back to normal. If your dog is amenable, try to get him to drink some water once he’s settled down to replace the fluids he lost while throwing up.
It’s fine for your dog to eat and drink normally after vomiting as long as he’s not showing any other symptoms. And remember – there’s a difference between vomiting and regurgitating! If your dog vomited during or shortly after eating, there’s a good chance he just ate too quickly. If it becomes a regular occurrence, talk to your vet.