- If your pet is otherwise bright, and there is no possibility that a foreign body or toxic substance has been ingested, withhold food and water for 4-8 hours.
- Note that young animals (under 3 months old), old animals (over 10 years old) and unwell animals should not go without food or water for any period of time. (Young animals in particular are very prone to low blood glucose when they don’t eat and lose food from vomiting. If they appear weak, smear some glucose syrup or honey on the gums and seek veterinary attention immediately).
- If vomiting occurs with other signs of illness, such as fever, seek veterinary attention.
- If there is the possibility that the animal has ingested a foreign body or toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately as it may be necessary to induce vomiting.
- If no further vomiting occurs, offer water or electrolyte solution.
- If no further vomiting occurs with water, offer a small amount of a band or high-fibre diet – around half a tablespoon. Repeat every 1.5 to 2 hours if no vomiting occurs.
- If no further vomiting occurs, provide a bland diet for 48-72 hours then gradually reintroduce the normal diet.
- If vomiting occurs when food or water is reintroduced, seek veterinary attention as there may be a serious underlying cause. Animals that continue to vomit become rapidly dehydrated.
WHAT IS IT?
Vomiting, or emesis, is the active expulsion of stomach contents.
Vomiting should be differentiated from regurgitation. Vomiting is accompanied by nausea, increased salivation and abdominal effort, whereas regurgitation is passive, with undigested food and/or saliva being expelled with no effort.
- Nausea (often evidenced by frequent lip licking, swallowing and depression)
- Occasionally audible gut sounds
- Affected animals will usually (but not always) be off their food.
- Other signs depend on the underlying cause.
- There are many potential causes for vomiting, which can be categorised roughly as primary gastrointestinal disease and secondary causes.
- Examples of primary gastrointestinal disease include:
- Gastrointestinal upset/adverse food reaction/change in diet
- Ingestion of a toxin
- Gastrointestinal foreign bodies (these include food items, such as corn cobs, peach pits, large seeds such as avocado seeds etc, and non-food items such as string, socks and underwear, toys etc).
- Viral disease
- Cancer (e.g. stomach or intestinal cancers)
- Examples of secondary causes include:
- Metabolic or endocrine disease including diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease, pancreatitis, Addison’s disease
- Motion sickness/car sickness
- Tick paralysis
- Lead poisoning
- Vestibular disease
- Cancer elsewhere in the body
- Some medications cause vomiting in some animals.
Your vet will take a history and conduct a full physical examination. Your veterinarian may recommend further diagnostic tests including blood tests, x-rays or ultrasound to investigate underlying causes of vomiting.
Symptomatic management may involve intravenous fluids and anti-nausea medication. Specific treatment varies depending on the underlying cause.
Elwood C, Devauchelle P, Elliot J, Freiche V, Germans AJ, Gualtier M, Hall E, Hertog E, Neiger R, Peters D, Roura X & Savary Bataille K. Emesis in dogs: a review. Journal of Small Animal Practice 51:4-22.