Pet vomiting can often be scary for pet owners. Do I need the services of an emergency veterinarian? Fortunately, most cases of pet vomiting are a simple stomach upset. In some cases, though, vomiting can be an indication of a serious problem, and requires help from your trusted emergency veterinarian.
Pet Vomiting vs. Regurgitation
It’s important to know the differences between the two forms of stomach upset that cause your pet to expel food and/or water:
- regurgitation originates in the pet’s esophagus and comes on suddenly and silently. The risk with regurgitation is that some of the material, consisting of saliva, water, and food that has not been digested, can be sucked back into the larynx, causing aspiration pneumonia. This condition requires immediate treatment by an emergency vet.
- pet vomiting originates in the stomach, can be semisolid, and is preceded by coughing or retching.
Signs Your Pet is Going to Vomit
Before your pet vomits, you may notice some signs, including drooling, constant swallowing, and standing still with a lowered head. You may notice that your pet is eating grass, a common action that often actually promotes vomiting in an effort to self-medicate and relieve the distress.
How You Can Comfort Your Pet
When your pet has any digestive distress that causes vomiting, he or she will need comforting. You can make your pet feel better by:
- withholding food for at least 12 hours, followed by the introduction of a bland diet of either boiled hamburger or chicken mixed with rice. Begin with very small amounts to see if your pet can hold it down without becoming sick;
- giving water in small amounts. You can also try giving your pet an ice cube to lick every half hour. If your pet tolerates the water, you can give them full access to the water bowl after 12 hours.
Signs of an Emergency
When a pet is vomiting severely, you need to bring them to your emergency animal hospital as soon as possible. Check your pet’s skin and gums for pale color, and note their behavior. Strange behavior along with gum and skin color can be signs that your pet is either going into or is in shock. Other indications of an emergency include:
- blood in the vomit
- retching without vomiting
- bloating and swelling in the abdomen
Pet Vomiting Causes
Beyond a simple stomach upset, there are many things that can cause pet vomiting. These include:
- internal illnesses: pancreatitis, hepatitis, diabetes, kidney disease
- contagious diseases: possible for pets who have not been vaccinated
- intestinal blockages
Pet Vomiting FAQs
Why would my pet vomit?
Pet vomiting occurs for many reasons. If your pet vomits suddenly, or acutely, it may be due to causes such as:
- bacterial infections including intestinal infections
- ingesting some type of a foreign object, such as a toy or bone
- food-causes such as intolerance, eating garbage, or sudden changes to a pet’s diet
- kidney or liver failure
- intestinal parasites
- heatstroke, if your pet is exposed to high temperatures
- viral infections
- toxic substance ingestion
- car sickness
- nausea after surgery
- some medications
Other conditions can also cause pet vomiting. If your pet vomits frequently, it’s important to speak to your vet right away.
If my pet vomits a yellow-colored liquid, should I be concerned?
Yellow-colored liquid indicates that the animal’s stomach is empty of food. The yellow coloring of the liquid or foam-like fluid is likely bile, which the digestive system produces as a way to process food. It’s released in small amounts into the small intestine. Bile can be irritating to the lining of the stomach, which is why animals may vomit; however, many illnesses can cause a pet to vomit on an empty stomach. It’s important to bring your pet in for a consultation.
Are there at-home remedies I can give my pet before bringing them to an emergency vet?
It’s important to avoid giving your pet any type of human food or medication if they’re throwing up. A pet that’s vomiting generally has a reason for doing so, like an illness, disease, or injury. Provide your pet with plenty of water and keep them comfortable. Call your animal hospital to get more information on steps you can take based on your pet’s needs.
When should I bring my pet to an emergency vet? What signs or symptoms should I share with my vet?
The more information you provide to the emergency vet the better. You should bring your pet to an emergency animal hospital if your pet has vomited and has any additional signs of illness, such as a lack of interest in food, unwillingness to drink, pain, diarrhea, or if the condition continues for more than one occurrence. Share with your vet what your pet was doing, what they’ve been exposed to, and how your pet has been acting.