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My Dog Is Crying and Throwing Up: What Can I Do?

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New foods, motion sickness, and anxiety can cause dogs to vomit. These are often easy to remedy, but you’ll need a vet if the cause of your dog’s vomiting and crying is poisoning, pancreatitis, or kidney failure.  

How do you know when you can treat your dog’s vomiting at home or when to race to the vet? 

To find out, let’s look at common causes for dogs to vomit, what it means if your dog is crying and throwing up, how you can treat your dog at home and when it’s time to see an expert. 

Regurgitating vs. Vomiting 

The main difference between regurgitating and vomiting is that regurgitation is a passive process, while vomiting is an active process. In the latter, the stomach muscles are engaged and the material produced is digested, while regurgitation is a burp with residue. 

Before rushing to the vet, is your dog vomiting or regurgitating? 

Regurgitation is often a result of a dog eating too fast and is usually harmless. Vomiting indicates the dog is unwell. 

What Happens When a Dog Regurgitates? 

Regurgitation can be defined as spontaneous reflux of food before it reaches the stomach[1]. It occurs when food ejects from the esophagus without much effort. It can happen after eating when a dog has eaten too fast.[2] 

Regurgitated food has yet to reach the stomach, so there are no contractions in the abdominal area. It doesn’t cause much distress. Dogs are unlikely to cry during regurgitation and often eat the regurgitated food. [3] [4]

What Happens When a Dog Regurgitates

What Happens When a Dog Vomits? 

When a dog vomits, food ejects from the stomach and upper intestine. Vomiting requires effort, includes abdominal contractions, and causes the whole body to tense. It often causes distress and is more likely to make dogs cry. 

How to Stop Your Dog From Regurgitating Food

Here are three ways to help stop a dog from regurgitating its food: 

1. Feed your dog in a calm area 

The calmer your dog feels, the less likely it is to rush.  

2. Isolate your dog for feeding time 

Move your reflux-prone dog’s food bowl away from other dogs, pets, and children if your dog seems anxious when eating. 

3. Change feeding frequency 

Slow down your dog’s eating by feeding it twice a day instead of once a day. 

Causes of a Dog Crying and Throwing Up 

Dogs cry and throw up because vomiting is distressing and can cause pain. Acute vomiting is caused by illnesses, food poisoning, heatstroke, medication reactions, and liver or kidney failures. Chronic vomiting indicates constipation, intestinal obstruction, viral infections, liver disease or failure, and kidney failure. 

Acute Vs. Chronic vomiting

The cause of vomiting is often linked to whether the dog is vomiting suddenly and severely (acute vomiting) or if the dog vomits consistently over some time (chronic vomiting). 

Acute Vomiting Causes 

Here are possible causes of acute vomiting[6} in dogs:

  • Ingestion of foreign objects: Bones, stones, and sticks. 
  • Diet change: Too many fatty foods and table scraps.
  • Motion sickness from traveling in a car.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Toxins or poisons: Household medications, rat poison, antifreeze, pesticides.
  • Potentially fatal illnesses like pancreatitis and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex.
  • Organ failure (kidney or liver).
  • Intestinal parasites. 
  • Viral infections like distemper, parvovirus, and gastroenteritis.
  • Heatstroke. 

Related: My Dog Keeps Licking Everything and Gagging

Acute Vomiting Causes

Chronic Vomiting Causes 

Chronic vomiting can be caused by:

  • Intestinal obstruction.
  • Cancer.
  • Parvovirus.
  • Colitis.
  • Constipation.
  • Liver disease.
  • Kidney or liver failure.
  • Systemic illness
  • Intestinal inflammation.
  • Pancreatitis

What Does Your Dog’s Vomit Look Like and Why It Matters?

Looking at your dog’s vomit is important because it indicates if the upset is stemming from the stomach or the small intestine. Knowing what the vomit looks like helps a vet diagnose the condition. 

Vomit with undigested and partially digested food along with clear liquid comes from the stomach. 

A yellow or green-colored vomit is bile from the small intestine. [5] 

Digested blood in vomit looks similar to coffee grounds and can indicate gastric ulcers or that the dog has swallowed a sharp object. [5] 

What Does Your Dog’s Vomit Look Like
Image Source

How to Help a Dog That Is Crying and Vomiting 

Treatment for crying and vomiting depend on the cause and how severe the vomiting is. Mild cases can be treated at home, but it is best to take your dog to the vet if you are concerned. 

The first step to helping your dog is to start making notes for the vet:

  1. What did your dog eat before it started to vomit? 
  2. When last did your dog eat? 
  3. What was your dog doing during the day? Did you take your dog for a drive, was it hot in the car? 
  4. Is your dog on any medication? 
  5. Is there any evidence of your dog getting into the garbage? 
  6. Did you use a pesticide or herbicide in your garden recently? 
  7. Is there evidence of your dog getting hold of household stocks of medicine or chocolate? 
  8. What does the vomit look like? 
  9. Can you describe how your dog’s posture and behavior when vomiting? 
  10. How many times has your dog vomited in the last 24 hours? 

These are questions your vet is likely to ask when making a diagnosis. If you plan on treating your dog at home, start making notes in case of an emergency. 

For mild cases, The College of Veterinary Medicine suggests removing food and water for 24 hours. Once the vomiting stops you can offer your dog water and small, low-fat bland meals, like boiled rice and skinless deboned chicken pieces, three to six times and day. 

Do not withhold water from dogs suffering from kidney disease.

Related: Dog Keeps Burping and Licking Lips

How to Help a Dog That Is Crying and Vomiting

When to Take a Dog That is Throwing up and Whining to the Vet 

Take your dog to the vet immediately if has vomited more than once in 24 hours, has been retching without anything coming up, is vomiting blood, has a seizure, has a fever, has abdominal pain, has a swollen belly, or has an arched back.

You’ve tried treating your dog at home, but there is little improvement. When should you head to the vet? 

Here are eight signs that it’s time to call the vet immediately: [7] [3]

  1. Vomited more than once in 24 hours. 
  2. Retching without vomit coming up.
  3. Having seizures or is shaking.
  4. Fever.
  5. Abdominal pain.
  6. Vomiting up blood.
  7. Swollen belly.
  8. Arched or hunched back.  

Vomiting can quickly escalate to dangerous dehydration in puppies and small dogs.[1],  

Take your dog to the vet if it is whining in pain, retching, and has a swollen belly. These are symptoms of gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex, also known as bloating, a potentially fatal condition that causes the stomach to bloat and flip.[2] 

Take your dog to the vet if it is whining, pacing, vomiting, and hunching or arching its back. These are symptoms of pancreatitis in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. It can be fatal if the inflammation spreads to other organs.[3]

When to Take a Dog That is Throwing up and Whining to the Vet

How a Vet Treats a Vomiting Dog  

A vet will examine your vomiting dog and ask you a series of questions about its symptoms. Blood tests and x-rays can be ordered. In severe cases, the vet can recommend admitting a dehydrated dog to the veterinary hospital for intravenous fluids.

What and When Your Dog Last Ate 

The vet will ask about what your dog last ate to try to figure out if it has food poisoning, is experiencing allergies, or if it started vomiting on an empty stomach. 

The stomach is empty six to eight hours after eating. Vomiting on an empty stomach indicates an obstruction of the stomach or stomach function.[4]

What the Vomit Looks Like 

You can be asked what your dog’s vomit looks like and about the dog’s posture when vomiting. 

Tests and Treatments 

The vet can order blood tests to determine if the dog has a condition like kidney failure. An x-ray will be ordered if the vet suspects an obstruction (like a bone), in the GI tract. [5]  

Dehydrated dogs can be admitted to a veterinary hospital for administration of intravenous fluids [7] 

FAQs

Why Is My Dog Throwing up Yellow and Crying? 

If your dog is throwing up a yellow or green-colored liquid, it is vomiting bile from the small intestine. There is no need to panic unnecessarily. It can simply mean your dog is throwing up on an empty stomach.  

What Should I Do if My Puppy Throwing Up and Whining?

Get to the vet immediately if your puppy is throwing up and crying. Puppies and small dogs have a higher risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated. It is best that a vet steps in if a puppy is vomiting due to a viral infection that it has no immunity to fight. 

About Monique Warner

Monique is an avid dog lover who grew up with dogs, cats, and budgies as pets. She has worked as a pet sitter and dog walker. With her passion for dogs and pets alike, she writes articles with the intention of helping pet owners solve their biggest struggles.

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