Dog sickness: How to care for vomiting dogs

Posted by Dr Dog. May 15th 2014.

Just like humans, pets are susceptible to upset tummies. In dogs, vomiting is a common problem and it’s important to know how to combat the symptoms and also to spot when things might be getting serious.

For a quick overview, watch our short video below with professional vet Sarah Greig about the causes of dog vomiting and what action to take.

What are the symptoms or signs of vomiting?

Even the most energetic and playful dogs can appear unhappy at times – one of the reasons for this unhappiness is upset tummies.

Signs of nausea to look for include:

  • Exaggerated swallowing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Licking of lips

A black Labrador suffering from dog sickness

How do I know it’s serious or not?

If your vomiting dog still appears to be fairly happy and alert, then more often than not a full recovery can be made at home.

If they aren’t vomiting continuously or periodically over long periods of time, then it’s likely that they have an upset stomach and nothing more serious.

If vomiting is continuous, the dog looks otherwise unwell in itself or there are other symptoms which make you concerned then you should definitely seek veterinary advice.

Either way if you are an Argos Pet Insurance customer you can ring Vetfone for 24 hour pet advice and they will help you decide what needs done.

How can I stop my dog vomiting?

To help a dog that is over the age of six months stop vomiting, dietary rest should be introduced. This requires the dog to refrain from eating any snacks, its normal food or treats for a total of 24 hours. This is a hard tactic to master, especially as the dog may beg for food, but it is worth it in the end.

You must however ensure your animal is hydrated at all times by offering them a few sips of water every 15 minutes. Too much water will only cause the vomiting to restart so don’t be tempted to give them too much. You should never starve puppies or small toy breeds for more than six hours either.

What should I do next?

After a period of starvation, your dog should have stopped vomiting. Instead of allowing them to continue with their usual diet, change them over to a ‘high digestibility’ diet.

Their usual meals can be replaced with home cooked foods which should be introduced in the shape of small, frequent meals that contain no meat protein. For a medium sized dog, one meal may comprise for example 1.5 cups of cooked rice, 1 cooked egg and 1 cup of cottage cheese. Other diet options include chicken and rice, or fish and pasta dishes.

This ‘high digestibility’ meal should be subdivided and fed to the dog over 4-5 feeds in a day. Repeat this for 3-4 days until your dog has made a full recovery.

Dog drinks from bowl

How can I aid recovery?

The only way this diet will work is if you are firm with yourself. You should always refrain from giving your dog titbits and treats during their recovery as it may cause a relapse.

It’s also important to walk your dog on a lead during the recovery period to prevent them from scavenging for other food. If your dog refuses to drink, try and add a teaspoon of sugar or honey to their water bowl to entice them. You may also want to use ice cubes to monitor their water intake and ensure they don’t drink too much.

What should I do if my dog’s condition worsens?

If your dog’s condition fails to improve after trying both dietary rest and a high digestibility diet, then it’s wise to seek professional, veterinary advice. Other reasons for vomiting may include worms – which should be treated on a regular basis and carried out again once the dog is fully recovered – but your vet will be able to diagnose and assist you with any other causes of vomiting in dogs.


For more information about caring for your dog, head over to our We Talk Dog blog where you can discover more about dog behaviour, health and grooming.

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