If your dog vomits, are you the type to rush to your primary care veterinarian, or do you wait and see if the problem resolves on its own? While some vomiting cases can be managed at home, like the one-off vomit from eating too quickly, other episodes need immediate veterinary attention. However, when you are faced with a pile of vomit, making the decision whether your dog requires emergency care can be tough, but a few situations always need urgent attention. Here are seven situations that require emergency veterinary care if your dog is vomiting.

#1: Your dog has ingested a toxin

Toxin ingestion is relatively common for dogs, whose noses often lead them to trouble. If your pooch sniffs out, and then tastes, a toxin, they may begin to vomit. In some cases, you want your dog to vomit to get the toxin out of their body. However, rather than automatically making your dog vomit, contact a pet poison helpline, like the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, for help. Their veterinary toxicologists are experts on providing assistance through situations involving toxin exposure. They’ll advise whether or not you should make your dog vomit, and provide you with a case number that our veterinarians will use to treat your dog. 

#2: Your dog’s abdomen is rounded and hard

If your dog is attempting to vomit, but is unproductive, they could have developed bloat, or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). Occasionally, a dog will eat a large meal too quickly, which causes the stomach to dilate, and pressure to increase. The stomach’s increased pressure and size can prevent adequate blood from returning to the heart from the abdomen, loss of blood flow to the stomach lining, rupture of the stomach wall, and difficulty breathing. The stomach can also become dilated enough to rotate, which blocks the blood supply to the spleen and stomach. If your dog is displaying the following signs, they could be in the early stages of GDV and require emergency treatment:

  • Looking anxious, or looking at their abdomen
  • Standing and stretching
  • Drooling
  • Distended abdomen
  • Unproductive retching

#3: Your dog has a pre-existing condition

Many chronic conditions can cause your dog to vomit, despite being well-managed previously. Dogs with kidney or liver disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, and other endocrine disorders may vomit, which may be a sign that their treatment protocol is no longer effective. If your primary care veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with a health issue and they are vomiting, seek urgent care.

#4: Your dog’s toy or a household item is missing

Puppies are notorious for destroying toys and ingesting them, but adult dogs also eat things they shouldn’t. If you notice a toy has been shredded and parts are missing, or the laces for your favorite pair of shoes are gone, these items could be the cause of your dog’s vomiting. Vomiting is one of the main signs of a gastrointestinal obstruction, and if your pet’s penchant for eating inappropriate items coincides with a missing object and a vomiting episode, they may require emergency surgery to remove the object.

#5: Your dog has blood in their vomit

Bright red blood in your dog’s vomit can indicate gum disease or a cut in their mouth, while dark blood the color of coffee grounds means the blood has been digested. Dark, digested blood in their vomit may mean your dog has a stomach ulcer or stomach bleeding from another cause. However, no matter the blood type in your dog’s vomit, don’t delay—seek veterinary treatment immediately. 

#6: Your dog is displaying other illness signs

A single vomiting episode is usually no big deal, but when vomiting is paired with other illness signs, it’s time to take action. If you notice your dog displaying the following illness signs, call our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center for help:

  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Behavior changes
  • Urination changes

#7: Your dog has vomited multiple times and cannot hold down water

Multiple vomiting episodes can wreak havoc on your pet’s body, and can quickly lead to dehydration, especially if they cannot hold down water. If your dog is vomiting frequently or excessively they need veterinary care, and if they cannot keep water down without vomiting, they need immediate attention. In some cases, your dog may need rehydration with intravenous or subcutaneous fluids, so never wait too long if your pet continues to vomit.

If your dog is vomiting, you should seek veterinary treatment rather than waiting to see if the problem resolves on its own. Our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team is available for after-hours veterinary care in Spokane, and we always want to help a pet in crisis, so give us a call if your dog is vomiting and you’re not sure why.