Even if you're experienced with puppies, there are always new concerns because every puppy is different. One of the more common questions new dog owners ask is, why is my puppy vomiting? There are several reasons why a puppy may vomit and many things you can do to fix this problem.
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On rare occasions, this may be a serious health concern, but most of the time, it's just a matter of puppy diet adjustment or parasite treatment. When your puppy vomits once or twice in a single day, but still acts normally the rest of the time, don't panic. Continue observing the dog for another day and see if the pattern repeats itself.
We will look into this in more detail later in the article, but here is a quick list of most common causes of vomiting in puppies:
Hard play before/after eating
You need to allow your puppy some rest before a hard playing or exercise session so the food can digest; the same applies for feeding a dog minutes after some heavy exercise. The body needs time to settle down.
Some dogs, and puppies in particular, do not do well with car travel, and especially if it's long-distance journeys. Ideally, you need to get your dog used to traveling in cars; begin with short distance travel at a time and on an empty stomach.
Bad food choices
This is the most common reason for pet owner asking “why is my puppy vomiting,” because it's not unusual for dogs to eat something that doesn't agree with their stomach. Pay attention to what your dog picks up and try to prevent him from eating things off the floor, table scraps and so on.
Too much water
Another common cause for why your puppy is vomiting is too much water, and/or drinking too fast. This often happens after exercise or playtime when your puppy's thirsty. While not a big deal in general, remember that water intoxication in dogs can be a serious health concern.
Eating too fast
If your puppy is one who likes to go for the land speed record for consuming a bowl of food, it could cause him to throw up. Other, more serious problems for dogs that inhale their food can also occur, such as canine bloat. The fix for this is to get a dog food bowl that slows down a puppy's eating.
Wrong puppy food
With so many different choices of puppy food out there, every one of them have a different formulation and ingredients. What's the best puppy food for your dog depends entirely on your individual animal, so it will take some time, and trial and error to figure out what puppy food brand best agrees with your dog.
There may be other reasons that cause puppy vomiting, but the above are going to apply in approx. 95% of the cases. Unless your puppy is vomiting consistently multiple times a day (in which case you must see a veterinarian immediately), go through those above before you consider a more serious illness.
“Why is My Puppy Vomiting?”
If none of the above causes apply to your dog's case, and you're still wondering why is my puppy vomiting, then it very well may be a sign of a more serious illness. Below are the most possible canine health problems that would cause vomiting in puppies.
1. Vomiting Because of Parvovirus
The first one you must consult with your vet about is canine parvovirus – a disease that puppies (and older dogs) get if they are not vaccinated for it.
Parvo in dogs is a serious disease, which can be fatal. Vomiting is often the first symptom of parvovirus. As the virus progresses, your puppy will start to have diarrhea – possibly bloody – and will become listless due to the dehydration.
Do not delay if your dog vomits more than twice in a single day, and refuses food. Call your vet immediately; they will test for parvovirus, and if positive, parvo treatment can be started immediately, which significantly increases chances of recovery.
Most likely your puppy will need hospitalization, increased fluid intake (through IV fluid therapy), followed by anti vomit and anti diarrhea meds, and plenty of support at the veterinary clinic.
Parvovirus in puppies is a difficult disease to treat. Some puppies do not survive, even with early medical intervention. This is why you must always do regular vet check-ups and vaccinate your puppy. Prevention is the best treatment.
2. Vomiting Because of Parasites
Parasites are a very common cause of vomiting in dogs. Puppies are explorers, and it's not unusual for them to pick up intestinal parasites from their mothers or environment: training classes, dog parks or the neighborhood. In this case, you will always see worms in dog's stool and, sometimes, in the dog's vomit.
On your first vet health check-up visit, all dogs get basic puppy shots of core vaccines for parvo, distemper and other diseases. The vet will ask you to bring your puppy's stool sample to check for intestinal parasites. If the test is positive, the vet will administer the proper treatment and prescribe a monthly dewormer or heartworm medication.
If you've been using a dewormer but still suspect that your puppy has parasites, call up your vet to discuss the best treatment. There are different worm types and sometimes a different treatment may needed.
3. Vomiting Because of Intestinal Blockage
A puppy may vomit due to intestinal blockage from chewing on and swallowing things such as toys, parts of tennis balls, rocks or sticks. Depending on the type of blockage, it can be fatal to dogs if not surgically removed, so early detection and treatment are needed.
If you suspect puppy vomiting because something is stuck in the dog's throat, stomach or intestines – there's nothing you can do at home. You need to call up your vet immediately and have your puppy checked at the clinic.
Prevention is easily possible, so if your puppy is an active chewer, make sure that he only chews on puppy appropriate toys that are durable, long-lasting, simple in design, correct size and will not splinter in case the dog destroys them.
Because toys are the most common cause of intestinal blockage in puppies, stay away from cheap brands (made in China), discount toys and chews, which can also harbor bacteria. USA made dog toys are recommended.
A Few Other Considerations
The above list of non-life threatening cases and the few serious health considerations like parvovirus, parasites and intestinal blockage are most common causes of puppy vomiting.
On much more rare occasions, there may also be other serious medical conditions related to congenital problems with a dog's digestive tract, or infectious diseases that are not Parvo (e.g. Hepatitis, Adenovirus, or failing kidneys or liver). If your puppy continues vomiting, he needs to be checked out by a veterinarian to rule out serious diseases.
The bottom line is that if your puppy vomits more than twice in a day, call your veterinarian immediately and get your dog checked out – do not delay.
What to Do If Your Puppy Is Vomiting
If you're dog is currently vomiting right now, and he vomited only once, then do this:
- Do not feed the dog anything for at least 6 to 10 hours.
- Provide plenty of cool, fresh water (re-clean the bowl properly).
- Observe the puppy so they don't drink too much water.
- If your puppy stops vomiting, feed him a low-fat bland meal after 6-10 hours (e.g. you can boil some plain rice and chicken breast; it's better to avoid kibble right now).
- If the first meal goes well and there's no vomiting, keep increasing water intake and attempt going back to the regular diet gradually.
- Observe the dog as the changes you're making may tell you what the cause of vomiting in your puppy is.
If your puppy doesn't stop vomiting – call your veterinarian.
In the future, to prevent puppy vomiting, keep an eye on your young dog. When you have a puppy, you need to constantly observe and supervise them as the young dog continues to learn about the world. You especially need to watch your puppies when they are out for free play. Being in a puppy-friendly and safe room, puppy-proof house or a playpen when you can’t supervise them is alright, too.
If you're a new dog owner, expect a puppy to get their mouth on everything they can find. They are learning their surroundings and experimenting. If you have to ask now, why is my puppy vomiting, then it's quite likely that he may have gotten into something that he wasn't supposed to while you weren't looking. This is the most common reason.
For example, an item dropped and unnoticed could end up in a dog's mouth. Think about your home and the things that may be available to your puppy. It's important puppy-proof a house before bringing your new friend home. Keep your dirty laundry in a hamper away from that inquisitive mouth. Pups love swallowing things like socks.
If you have a cat that is indoors, move the cat's litter box to a place where the puppy isn’t going to be able to get into it. Some dogs can treat the cat box as a snack tray. Not only is this a bad habit, but your puppy will get sick from eating kitty litter.
Keep up with regular vet visits for your puppy. Have all your questions answered by a qualified professional and work on preventing things from happening so you don't have to deal with the consequences. Heading off any possible illnesses before it may become an emergency situation is key to raising a healthy pup.
If you are sure that the answer to “why is my puppy vomiting?” is nothing more than an upset tummy, get your pup to drink some water (and not ginger ale, like humans do). A pet-friendly antacid for simple heartburn is good for calming an upset stomach in dogs, too. There are several other treatments for dog's digestion issues, upset stomach or diarrhea. Just remember to always check with your vet for confirmation before giving your dog any over-the-counter remedies.