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Dog and Cat Vomiting: When to Worry

Your pet is vomiting, should you be concerned? This question is one of the most common reasons pet owners call their veterinarians for advice. Below are some tips for determining whether vomiting warrants a trip to the vet’s office or not.

Signs that Vomiting May Not Be Serious

Animals that hunt and scavenge for a living are built to vomit. This protects them when they inadvertently eat something that they would have been better off avoiding, but it also causes healthy domestic dogs and cats to vomit more frequently than their owners might think is normal. If any of the following applies to your situation, your pet’s symptoms may not be cause for concern:

  • infrequent vomiting – less than once a week constitutes “infrequent”
  • the cause is obvious – he ate too much, too quickly or something gross, he gets carsick, or a cat is a fastidious self-groomer and brings up the occasional hairball
  • a previous diagnosis – the pet has a chronic condition or is being treated with medications known to cause occasional vomiting
  • the dog or cat is normal in all other ways
  • vomiting worms after being treated with a dewormer – roundworms are the most likely culprit, particularly in puppies in kittens. As long as the pet continues to eat and drink and seems to feel fine, this is no reason for concern.
  • vomiting frothy yellow or orange-tinged fluid on an empty stomach – small breed dogs are at      particular risk for a condition known as “bilious vomiting syndrome.” Most cases can be managed by offering two or three small meals throughout the day rather than one big one .

Call the Vet!

There are times, however, when vomiting can be indicative of a serious medical problem. If your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms, play it safe and call your veterinarian:

  • frequent vomiting – pets that vomit frequently can quickly become debilitated
  • projectile vomiting – this can be a sign of an obstructed gastrointestinal tract
  • poor appetite and lethargy
  • diarrhea – the combination of vomiting and diarrhea can quickly result in dehydration
  • weight loss – it takes time for weight loss to become obvious, so this indicates a more chronic and serious condition
  • changes in drinking and urinary habits – increased thirst and/or decreased urine production is seen with dehydration
  • abdominal pain and/or enlargement – these symptoms are generally seen with the more serious causes of vomiting in dogs and cats
  • repeated attempts at vomiting but nothing is produced – this is a classic symptom of gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat), a potentially life-threatening condition that is most frequently seen in large, deep-chested breeds of dogs.
  • the presence of red blood or material that looks like coffee grounds in the vomit – fresh blood appears red while partially digested blood resembles coffee grounds. It should go without saying that gastrointestinal bleeding warrants a trip to the veterinarian.
  • the vomit is bright green– some types of rodenticides (poisons used to kill mice and rats) are dyed a bright green color. These poisons can also kill pets that don’t receive timely and appropriate treatment.
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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • manoj k February 4, 2014, 6:55 am

    Quite informative.Thanks.

  • Nina April 8, 2016, 12:20 am

    Thank you so much what a great site…information so clear and concise..a big help to me and Duncan.

    • VetDepot April 8, 2016, 2:48 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 If you and Duncan have any questions in the future, feel free to ask us on our blog or on our Facebook/Twitter accounts! Have a great weekend!

  • Tabetha April 20, 2016, 10:27 am

    I have a chihuahua weenie dog mix. Hes almost a year and a half old. He is a very active and playful dog but yesterday he started acting lazy and not wanting to play or eat much or drink much. Last night he pooped and it was quite loose but of normal color and today he has started throwing up a yellow orange colored watery substance. The article says not to worry about the vomit. But I’m worried about might be going on with him and if can I treat at home or if i should I find a vet? I love him very much and would hate for something to happen to him. Does anyone have any advice?

  • Lucy October 18, 2016, 3:35 am

    Hello, I have an ageing Satffy. He will be 13 on 24/10/16. He was fine and we have not changed his food. He has started being sick, yellow/orange bile, once or teice overt he last couple of days. He is drinking but is off his food. He is still going toilet although not as much poo as usual, but that could be as he’s not eating like he usually does. He is not himself but does still come say hello and get excited when we come in. I am worried. My husband keeps telling me its a tummy bug and he’ll be ok, but I think he is saying that to make me feel better. Do I take him to the vets or do I wait a couple more days to see if he improves? your advise is very much appreciated. Many thanks

    • VetDepot October 19, 2016, 10:54 am

      Hey Lucy, I would take him to the vet ASAP, because this could be a sign of numerous serious illness! You could wait it out (is he vomiting again today?), but that could be a bad idea if it’s a serious disease that is being indicated. If he is throwing up bile, then that’s also a bad sign! Let me know how the situation goes, and good luck!

  • Amber October 31, 2016, 2:05 am

    Hi yes my dog Chance for the last three days has been puking none stop and has the color yellowish reddish orange clear bile and also Monday morning that his bottom was bloodily and I seen two clots with hardly poop with it , he is drinking a lot of water but eating as he normally would and he refused cheese . He doesn’t even greet me at the door or runs to the door for potty time like he always has , chance is like my baby he is my child he four years old he loves to hunt squirrels and dig for moles but the only thing different he has done has knock down our new born baby’s trash can and are the poop out of two diapers ( idk if that could be the reason his sick or he ate something in the woods ) please help I cant loose him

  • Susie November 14, 2016, 12:33 pm

    My dog was vomiting last Wednesday night, just grass and saliva, we called the vet and said it was normal, he doesn’t eat on Thursday but by Friday he was back to normal… playing and eating, boiled chicken and rice, Not throwing up once, Saturday and Sunday still himself, eating drinking and playing, today is Monday and I took him out for him to go potty (he hasn’t eaten because it’s too early for him) and he pooped a bit runny twice, I think it’s because of the change on his diet, from dry food to the chicken and rice, but then he threw up a tiny bit of orange-y foam, I got worried so I called the vet and they told me to take him… but I also researched and came across your page and another blog and saw that it might be ok… i don’t know what to do because he is normal, he is up and running, what should I do?

  • Dawn November 14, 2016, 12:33 pm

    If the dog vomits red liquid with sand like granules is this a problem?

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