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Dogs vomit occasionally for a variety of relatively benign reasons – to expel something unwanted from their stomach, as a result of gastric irritation or in response to colonic stimulus, for example. Prolonged, unrelenting vomiting or regurgitation, however, can be the sign of a serious condition, anything from head trauma or toxin exposure to pancreatic cancer or gastrointestinal obstruction.
Dogs drool, lick their lips, and swallow excessively just before vomiting or when they feel nauseous. Some may eat grass, possibly to relieve gastric irritation or serve as self-induced emetic.
It is important to distinguish between vomiting and regurgitation -- the latter happens spontaneously, raising undigested food with no abdominal effort. Usually, this is a sign of esophageal issues or other problems occurring early on in the digestive process. Regurgitation should not be classified with vomiting as a different range of possible causes are associated with regurgitation.
Vomiting usually empties the stomach of unwanted or indigestible material. It also accompanies a wide range of more serious problems triggered by nausea or gastric inflammation/irritation. Anything from infections and ulcers to cancer and drug reactions can lead to vomiting.
For severe, unrelenting vomiting:
For occasional or infrequent vomiting (and if the dog is not in shock or dehydrated):
Continued, repetitive, or serious vomiting should be investigated more fully. A vet will more than likely be able to help diagnose the underlying condition with X-rays, bloodwork, fecal analysis, urinalysis, ultrasound imaging and/or a barium study, among other things. If you can bring a sample of the dog’s vomitus with you, it may also help in the diagnostic process.
Many causes of vomiting cannot be prevented, but for those that can, observe the following rules:
The return of food into the oral cavity after it has been swallowed
Anything that produces an action or reaction
Any material that has been ejected through vomiting
The term for the nostrils and muscles in the upper and lower lips of an animal; may also be used to describe a type of tool used to keep an animal from biting
An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness
A medical condition in which the small intestine and stomach become inflamed
A medical condition in which the body has lost fluid or water in excessive amounts
Any substance that creates the urge to vomit
Anything having to do with the stomach
Not being able to cause harm; the opposite of malignant.
The digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine