As dog owners, we see almost everything that happens to our dogs – their best times when they’re happy and playful, to their worst times when they’re sick. For those who have heard it, the distinctive sound of a dog getting ready to throw up can induce a state of panic. Not only is it distressing in the moment, it’s also a cause for anxiety as it can be an indicator of more serious health issues for your dog. 

Vomiting is a common issue in dogs and can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from minor dietary indiscretions to serious health concerns. Understanding why your dog might be throwing up is crucial for ensuring their well-being and knowing when to seek veterinary care. 

Common Causes of Vomiting in Dogs

Dietary Indiscretion

One of the most frequent causes of vomiting in dogs is dietary indiscretion. Dogs are curious creatures and often eat things they shouldn’t, such as garbage, spoiled food, or non-food items. Ask any dog owner and they’ll probably be able to rattle off a list of the shoes or clothes their dog has eaten. This behaviour can lead to an upset stomach and vomiting. Symptoms typically include a brief period of vomiting, possible diarrhoea, and a generally uncomfortable dog.

Food Allergies

Food allergies or intolerances can also cause vomiting. If your dog has a sensitivity to certain ingredients, such as beef, dairy, wheat, or soy, they might vomit after eating. In addition to vomiting, food allergies can cause skin issues, ear infections, and chronic gastrointestinal problems. Identifying and eliminating the offending ingredient from your dog’s diet can help alleviate these symptoms.

Minor Gastrointestinal Issues

Minor gastrointestinal issues like indigestion or mild stomach infections can cause your dog to throw up. These can be caused by sudden changes in diet, eating too fast, or consuming something slightly irritating. Symptoms often include sporadic vomiting, mild discomfort, and possible changes in appetite.

Serious Health Issues


Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections can lead to vomiting in dogs. Conditions such as parvovirus, distemper, or intestinal parasites can cause severe gastrointestinal distress. Vomiting due to infections is often accompanied by diarrhoea, lethargy, fever, and a decrease in appetite. Prompt veterinary attention is essential for diagnosing and treating these infections.

Gastrointestinal Diseases

Chronic gastrointestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), pancreatitis, or gastritis can also cause persistent vomiting (common to breeds like Border Collies, Great Danes, and German Shepherds). These conditions often require long-term management and can present with additional symptoms such as weight loss, chronic diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. A veterinarian can perform diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.


Ingesting toxic substances such as certain plants, chemicals, or medications can result in vomiting. Poisoning is a medical emergency and is often accompanied by other severe symptoms such as drooling, seizures, tremors, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect your dog has ingested something toxic, seek immediate veterinary care.

Accompanying Symptoms and What They Indicate

Vomiting can be accompanied by various symptoms that help indicate the underlying cause. For instance:

  • Diarrhea: Often suggests gastrointestinal infections or dietary issues.
  • Lethargy: Common in cases of infection, poisoning, or serious illness.
  • Fever: Usually indicates an infection or inflammatory condition.
  • Abdominal Pain: Could signal gastrointestinal diseases like pancreatitis or an obstruction.
  • Weight Loss: May be a sign of chronic diseases such as IBD or cancer.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

Most dog owners will be worried enough when their dog starts throwing up. That worry can be amplified if the situation doesn’t seem to get any better. Figuring out when it’s a good idea to seek veterinary care for your vomiting dog can be challenging. Here are some guidelines to help you decide:

  • Frequent Vomiting: If your dog is vomiting repeatedly over a short period, it’s time to consult a vet.
  • Blood in Vomit: This is a serious sign and requires immediate attention.
  • Accompanying Severe Symptoms: Symptoms like lethargy, fever, severe pain, or seizures warrant urgent care.
  • Persistent Vomiting: Vomiting that continues for more than a day or two needs to be evaluated by a vet.
  • Dehydration: If your dog is showing signs of dehydration (dry gums, sunken eyes, lethargy), seek help right away.

Prevention and Care

One of the most effective strategies for preventing your dog from throwing up is diet management. Feeding your dog a balanced, high-quality diet that meets their nutritional needs is essential. Avoid making sudden changes to their diet, as this can upset their stomach. Instead, introduce new foods gradually over several days to allow their digestive system to adjust.

Maintaining a regular feeding schedule is also crucial. Feeding your dog at consistent times each day helps regulate their digestive process. It’s equally important to resist the temptation to give your dog table scraps or unfamiliar foods, as these can often lead to digestive upset.

By following these preventative measures and being attentive to your dog’s needs, you can help maintain their digestive health and reduce the likelihood of vomiting.


Vomiting in dogs can be caused by a wide range of factors, from benign dietary indiscretions to serious health conditions. By understanding the potential causes and accompanying symptoms, you can make informed decisions about your dog’s health. Always consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure about the severity of your dog’s symptoms, and take proactive steps to maintain their digestive health. With the right care and attention, you can help your dog stay healthy and happy.