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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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{ 30 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?

    • MArissa January 14, 2017, 8:31 pm

      What ended up happening in this case? My dog is doing exactly what you described. Please let me know.. we are thinking about taking her to the vet.

  • 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?

    • Helen July 3, 2018, 3:51 pm

      If your dog’s vet says to bring him in then I think you should. I think it is better to be safe than sorry. My dog was vomiting orange and I brought him in.

  • Dawn November 14, 2016, 12:33 pm

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

  • Brianna December 19, 2016, 3:31 pm

    My cat is about 11 and a half months, it has been maybe three days since he has been throwing up what looks like an orangish liquid, but on this recent day his vomit was the same color, but it was chunky. He also threw up something that looked like foam twice in these three days. He has been sleeping all day and he hasn’t eaten a thing, he only went to the restroom when he woke up and then just went back to sleep. He hasn’t been himself, he said been really quite and won’t come out to greet us

  • Alyssa January 21, 2017, 3:40 am

    My dog is throwing up a redish orange liquid that sticks together like slime and has chuncks of her dog food in it. She has done this five times in the last hour. She also is drinking ALOT, which according to the article means dehydration. Is she okay or should I pay a visit to the vet?

  • Christina Turner August 6, 2017, 6:44 am

    My cat just had kittens 4 days ago and now she is throwing up neon orange looking stuff just wondering what I should do

    • VetDepot August 15, 2017, 3:18 pm

      Christina, have you taken her to see her vet? Hope she is feeling better and the vomiting has stopped!

  • laura October 1, 2017, 4:55 pm

    My dog died this morning at 8am and i dont know why. She was perfectly fine. she woke me up at 3 in the morning wanting to play but i didn’t want to play so i put her down on the floor. Around 7am i heard her throwing up but i didnt think it was a big deal because she continued to be herself afterwards. Around 8am i came back to check on her, and I found her laying on the floor dead with orange vomit next to her. Do you have any idea what this may be?

    • VetDepot October 5, 2017, 5:08 pm

      Laura, so sincerely sorry to hear this news. I would suggest calling your vet and explaining what happened. Your vet will be able to give you the best advice in this situation. I will keep you in my thoughts. I personally know how hard it is to lose such a loved member of your family. <3

  • Peyton Russell November 18, 2017, 4:27 pm

    My cat Pip just today barfed this neon orange stuff, I informed my family and they said she probably ate something bad. Is she okay, or do I need to take her to the vet?

  • tom January 13, 2018, 12:08 pm

    My Samoyed was pushing 12, which is pretty much the end time. She was aging gracefully, but last Wednesday night she threw up a huge volume of material. Since there is snow out, after the food was gone we noticed she was still vomiting a brownish red material. We took her to the vet and he found he blood count was 600 which was extreme, and a sign of diabetes. Instead of treating her he sent us home with insulin and said give it in the morning after she ate.

    She would not eat and vomited nothing all night. We had to take her in and he blood glucose could not be measured. She had two seizures before we got there and one in the operating room. So emergency measures needed a quick insulin.

    We left her for three days with the vet trying to stabilize the glucose, but to no avail. We had to have her put down.

    To me, from what I know about vomiting, the coffee ground blood could have been an ulcer or stomach cancer. We think the big mistake was that she was not treated immediately. We could perhaps have saved her three days of torture at the pet hospital.

    The sad part is she was walking and playing the day before she threw up that night.

    • VetDepot January 15, 2018, 2:48 pm

      So sorry to to hear about your Samoyed.

  • Alaina January 20, 2018, 12:25 pm

    My dog vomited up a red-orange puke but inside of it are like peach/yellow colored “objects”. She is a golden doodle and her right paw, I assume, has been hurting because she hasn’t put any pressure on it.

    • Fifi February 13, 2018, 1:54 am

      Hi, do you know what the problem was? My puppy is doing the same, she’s vomited orange urine looking liquid with foam on top and also is chewing her right foot….. is there a cause for concern?

  • Alaina January 20, 2018, 12:30 pm

    My golden doodle also is 5 and I am remembering I fed her a bit of American cheese to try and get her up the stairs earlier but she wouldn’t.

  • Michelle February 14, 2018, 2:51 pm

    My cockapoo is 10yes old and was diagnosed with a severe heart murmur. In October the vet found a large mass in his sternum. She gave him a month to live. It is now February and has a hard time breathing. When we come home he wants to run around and play.
    Lately he has not been eating, unless it is people food. His water intake has decreased and has been coughing a lot.
    He has been throwing up bile. At first it was yellow, now it’s orange. He went out to poop and is pooping a bright orange.

  • Kristy February 16, 2018, 7:46 am

    My puppy so far has only puked once but it was orange mucus, she is 14 weeks old. She just woke up in the morning and was heaving then vomited the orange mucus, after she puked we tried to offer her food and water but she refused it. Should I be worried? She is a jack Russell blue tick mix and she try’s to eat everything like most puppies do, please help I’m a worry wart so I want to make sure my baby is ok.

    • Cals March 30, 2018, 11:44 am

      When immediately right after vomiting, it is quite normal for an animal, including humans, to not want to eat or drink. If she has still refused to be eating often and vomiting has become a common occurrence, then yes. Take. Her. In.
      It just seems as though she’s just eaten something gross and is now vomiting it up though. I know that’s definitely what my cat just did this morning… he keeps on eating my grandparents’ dogs’ food to show dominance.. even though it makes him sick if he eats too much of it. He probably snuck behind my back. Stealth Cat. -_-

    • Helen July 3, 2018, 3:47 pm

      My dog threw up orange as well. He won’t drink or eat either but he is still healthy. I’m relieved that this isn’t as serious as I thought it was.

  • Taylor June 4, 2018, 5:30 pm

    Both dogs and cat are throwing up; dogs normal, mealy throw up and the cats is bright red and gelatinous. This has only occurred today but a couple of times per each animal. We’re making a vet appointment- how serious might this be?

    • VetDepot June 5, 2018, 5:00 pm

      It’s best to have both pets evaluated by a Veterinarian to rule out any serious conditions. Have they been seen yet? If so, please share how they’re doing.

  • Helen July 3, 2018, 3:45 pm

    This helped me so much. I adopted a new puppy a month ago and he threw up today. I have been so worried and I have been hovering over him and this helped me get calm.

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