Causes of Vomiting in Puppies

Vomiting in puppies can lead to dehydration and a loss of electrolytes. Never wait too long before taking your puppy to the vet.
Causes of Vomiting in Puppies

Last update: 29 October, 2019

Vomiting in puppies is something to pay attention to. Because young dogs are so weak, if they don’t replenish their fluids, then they can get dehydrated.

So, whilst you might want to be more cautious and keep an eye on an adult dog if they start vomiting, vomiting in puppies should be taken much more seriously. In this article, we’ll discuss the possible causes of vomiting in puppies and how to treat them.

Vomiting vs regurgitating

Before we get to the causes of vomiting, we need to distinguish between vomiting and regurgitating. When a dog vomits, they’re forcefully expelling the contents of their stomach and upper small intestine, bringing food, liquid, and other debris all over the carpet.

Before vomiting occurs, there are normally other signs of nausea, such as excessive drooling, retching, and abdominal contractions, just like with people.

Regurgitation, on the other hand, is quite different. Instead of forcefully expelling the contents of their stomach, regurgitation is a passive movement that expels food and liquids which haven’t yet been digested.

Unlike vomiting, the signs of regurgitation are breathing difficulties and coughing. One way to know if your dog regurgitating and not vomiting is to look at what they’ve brought up. Regurgitated substances aren’t digested and can still preserve a cylindrical shape from being in the esophagus.

Your vet will need to know whether it’s vomiting or regurgitation because the two problems have very different causes and treatments.

What are the common causes of vomiting in puppies?

Many cases of vomiting of puppies are the result of gastric irritation due to eating something bad, or not eating properly. This can include eating inedible objects, irritants, spoiled foods, or simply eating too much or too fast.

The aftermath of vomiting in puppies.

Puppies can also vomit due to dizziness from traveling in the car, poisoning, or ingesting dangerous objects.

Puppies have a high risk of catching an infection, such as distemper or parvovirus, especially if they haven’t yet had all their vaccines. Other common causes of vomiting in puppies include intestinal parasites, heatstroke, certain medications, and diseases such as pancreatitis.

Medical conditions that can cause regurgitation in puppies

Regurgitation can happen with any breeds, although several breeds seem to have a predisposition to regurgitate. Some of these include the Wire Fox Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Great Dane, German Shepherd, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, and Chinese Shar-Pei.

Regurgitation can happen for different reasons, including:

  • Congenital problems (present before birth) with the throat or esophagus.
  • Throat problems related to cancer, foreign bodies, rabies, poisoning, or muscle diseases (myopathies).
  • Esophageal disease caused by an enlarged esophagus, tumor, cancer, or hiatal hernia.
  • Narrowing of the esophagus or problems with the nervous system.

If your puppy is repeatedly vomiting, suffers from diarrhea at the same time, vomiting blood or other unusual materials, or even just continually gagging, these are serious symptoms that demand an urgent visit to the vet.

Treating and preventing vomiting in puppies

Vomiting can be a sign of a serious disease. Even if the underlying cause isn’t serious, vomiting for any reason can lead to dehydration and other problems that can kill puppies very quickly.

A dog vomiting on the pavement.

If your puppy ever vomits several times in a single day, vomits all the time, or has additional symptoms such as diarrhea or lethargy, you should call the vet straight away.

Once the vet has identified the cause of the vomiting, they’ll be able to assign the right treatment based on the cause and your dog’s condition. In some severe cases, they may need to be hospitalized.

Feed them a soft diet

Your vet may recommend a soft diet for a few days to allow your puppy to recover. There are foods that you can buy in stores, or alternatively, you could prepare some boiled chicken without the skin and white rice.

It’s also important to make sure that your puppy drinks enough water. If their condition is more serious, your vet will prescribe the necessary medication.

Try to get them to eat more slowly

If your puppy is perfectly healthy but vomits right after eating, it might be that they’re eating too fast. Try to slow them down. The following measures can be useful:

  • If you have more than one, feed your puppies in separate rooms to reduce the sense of competition.
  • Place a large inedible object on the plate so that they’re forced to eat around it.
  • Feed them several small meals each day.

If your puppy is vomiting, always consult your vet before you give them any medication. Your vet will always be able to provide you with the best recommendations.

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  • Gandini, G., Bettini, G., Pietra, M., Mandrioli, L., & Carpene, E. (2002). Clinical and pathological findings of acute zinc intoxication in a puppy. Journal of small animal practice, 43(12), 539-542.
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