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“Ulp. Ulp. Ulp.”
If you’re an experienced puppy parent, you know the sound. If you’re new to puppyhood, you’ll learn it fast.
It’s like a deep, elongated, reverse gulp from the gut that repeats until suddenly…a present. Once you know the sound, it gets you moving faster than you can say, “Barf!”
A single bout of vomiting may not be anything serious. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on your puppy. Puppies can become dehydrated quickly if they throw up multiple times in a day.
What causes puppies to vomit?
Just like humans, there are many reasons why puppies vomit. Sometimes it’s one and done. Other times it may require a trip to your veterinarian.
These are the most common reasons why your puppy throws up.
1. Gastrointestinal upset
Dogs in general are curious. That curiosity is amplified when they’re young pups.
Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA, CVJ explains, “Puppies are less discriminate about what goes in their mouths and more prone to dietary indiscretion. As a result, gastrointestinal upset is the most common reason why puppies vomit.”
In other words, they smell everything and enjoy taste-testing it, too. Their life is a game of sniff and eat. Here are some common ingestibles that may cause your puppy to throw up.
Cause of stomach upset: Grass
Dogs are drawn to eating grass. Sometimes, it’s an indication that their stomach is already upset, and grass is known to aid dogs in vomiting. Other times, it’s just an act of boredom, according to WebMD.
Dr. Mahaney advises, “When puppies eat grass it can be a sign that something is wrong digestively and needs to be addressed.”
Nothing is wrong with puppies eating grass. However, Dr. Mahaney warns, “Don’t let puppies eat grass if there’s any chance that pesticides or other chemicals are on it. Also, don’t let your puppy eat long grasses that may contain foxtails. They can become embedded inside your puppy’s mouth or digestive tract and cause serious infection.”
Cause of stomach upset: Inedible objects
From shoes to toys, puppies love to chew, chew, chew! Sometimes all that mischief and gnawing leads to swallowing pieces of objects. My dog, Parker, once pooped a candlestick.
Not all objects make it all the way through a dog’s system. Sometimes items obstruct the GI tract, which can trigger vomiting.
Cause of stomach upset: Human foods that are rich or spoiled
Human foods that contain oils and fats are not good for your dog’s digestion. Giving your dog table scraps is ill-advised. Pun intended!
Another culprit of stomach upset in dogs is food gone bad. Puppies quickly learn where the trash can is and don’t hesitate to investigate. Dr. Mahaney points out that puppies are quick to vacuum rotten food off the ground with their mouth while on a walk or at the park.
Cause of stomach upset: Eating too much, too fast
Some puppies practically inhale their food. If this is the case with your puppy, you may want to consider getting a slow feeding dog bowl, which forces them to eat more slowly. Eating too fast can cause bloating, indigestion, and—you guessed it—throwing up.
2. Intestinal parasites
“Intestinal parasites can also be a cause of vomiting,” says Dr. Mahaney. These parasites live in a puppy’s gastrointestinal tract and include:
Your puppy may be experiencing additional symptoms if the cause of vomiting is intestinal parasites, including:
- A distended abdomen
- Weight loss
- Occasionally coughing
3. Other vomiting triggers
As mentioned above, there are many reasons why your puppy might throw up. Here are a handful of not-as-common possibilities:
- Car sickness
- Ingesting toxins
- Distemper virus
How to help your puppy
After witnessing your puppy throw up (or discovering it later), you most likely feel worried and helpless. You wonder, “What could it be?” and “How do I make you feel better?”
Dr. Mahaney offers steps to follow to help calm your puppy’s insides.
- Don’t give anything by mouth for two to four hours after vomiting.
- After two to four hours:
- Offer room temperature water or ice cubes to lick. Don’t let your puppy crunch and munch the ice cubes. They should only lick them to get hydrated.
- Offer a small, bland meal. It should include ⅓ protein (boiled boneless and skinless chicken breast or cottage cheese) plus ⅔ carbohydrates (white rice).
- Wait two to four hours. If that stays down, give the same same, bland meal to your puppy.
- Wait two to four hours, again. If the meal stays down, repeat.
If no other incidents of vomiting occur, it was most likely a one-time instance. You can slowly transition your puppy back to his or her regular diet.
When to call vet
If vomiting continues, contact your veterinarian within 12 to 24 hours. Your vet will most likely want to run diagnostic tests like x-rays or ultrasounds. They may also do blood, fecal, and urinary testing.
Your puppy can stay comfortable and hydrated with fluids as your veterinarian determines the cause and offers next steps.