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July 28, 2015

What to do if your Dog is Vomiting, Regurgitation, or Belching

By AJ Gegenheimer, RVT, ICAN Canine Health Coordinator

Vomiting: to disgorge the contents of the stomach through the mouth Ex: dog is heaving from stomach, is in a hunched position

Regurgitation: the casting up of incompletely digested food
Ex: looks similar to above but less heaving motion is involved

Belching: to expel gas from the stomach suddenly through the mouth
Ex: may or may not make a noise, there is no heaving or hunching like vomiting, if a substance comes up there could be a concern

If vomiting, withhold all food, treats, etc for 24 hours. Water is ok in small quantities (cover the bottom of the bowl) several times through the day. If vomiting has stopped after 24 hours of no food, start with 1/4 of a regular meal and if that stays down, repeat in 30-60 minutes. Water can be increased by filling the bowl 1/4 full. In 8 hours, if no vomiting, repeat the previous step except increase the meal to 1/2 of a regular meal. Water can also be increased to 1/2 bowl full. In another 8 hours, if no vomiting, give a full meal. Water can return to normal. If at any time vomiting recurs, stop feeding and contact your veterinarian.

If regurgitation, no food until the next meal. At the next meal decrease the amount to 1/2 and give the rest 30 minutes later. If regurgitation is a recurring problem, decrease amount of the meal and increase the number of meals. You can also try raising the bowls to chest level.

If belching, if noise only, try raising the bowls (food and water) to chest level. If there is a substance with the belch, contact your veterinarian.

Descriptions of what may be expelled from the dog:

Clear liquid: Usually water, drank to quickly or drank to much, played hard immediately after drinking a large quantity of water. To resolve: offer smaller quantity of water more frequently. Ice cubes are allowed if they have air pockets in them (refrigerator door ice) and only a few at a time. Preference is no ice cubes at all.

Bile: Yellow liquid, usually indicates the dog hasn't eaten in awhile. To resolve: feed smaller amounts and slowly increase amount or feed smaller more frequent meals.

Green: Grass most likely cause. Dogs cannot digest grass so it comes back up. They do NOT eat grass because of an upset stomach. They eat grass because it smells sweet. This usually happens right after a rain or in the morning because of the dew. Please discourage ingestion due to parasites and other unseen items in the yard.

Food: usually undigested happens within an hour of eating. Causes are: eats to quickly or drank to much water with food. The food expands in the stomach from either the water or the stomach acids and then the stomach realizes it can't hold that much food and up it comes. If eats quickly, slow down by offering smaller amounts, using a bumper bowl (bowl with something in it, like a soup can or large rock) or spread the food out on a cookie sheet or tray. If drinks a lot after eating, limit amount of water immediately and slowly increase amount. Playing to hard immediately after eating can cause food to come up. Follow swimmers rule, limit play for an hour after eating.
If food is digested or is vomited hours after eating, follow the instructions from up above.

Brown: If it is liquid and is belched, it is likely a foreign body causing an obstruction. If there is substance or form, try to identify and follow the above instructions.

Red: If liquid, this could indicate blood or dye from food or foreign body. If substance is involved, try to identify and follow instructions from above.

Other colors: Most likely dye of food or foreign body. Again, try to identify and follow the above instructions.

If one incidence make note, but generally not a concern. If 3 or more incidences in a day or over a couple of days, contact your veterinarian. If other signs or symptoms are present, such as diarrhea, not eating, lethargy, unable to hold down water, contact your veterinarian.
Do NOT give any medication unless directed to do so.  Pepto Bismol is NOT for vomiting, diarrhea only.

Disclaimer:  This information is designed for ICAN dogs in correctional facilities. It is for quick, short term response to a situation until veterinary care can be administered.  Always check with your veterinarian for proper care of your pet. Each pet is individual and not every quick, short term response is appropriate.