It’s no secret that dogs throw up — vomit at one point or another is just a part of life with your furry friend. There are a range of causes of dog vomiting. Sometimes your dog vomits due to a serious sickness like parvovirus, infection, a blockage from a foreign body, intestinal parasites, or a worm issue like roundworms. Other times, it’s an everyday issue — a dog food allergy, irritation, or a sudden change in diet.
What if you notice your dog throwing up undigested food? If your dog is throwing up food before it’s even digested, they don’t receive any of the calories or nutrients.
Let’s take a closer look at what to do if your dog is throwing up undigested food and how you can help your dog keep food down.
There are two main types of dog throw up to be aware of.
If your dog eats and throws up an hour after eating, this is vomit. Vomiting is when your dog expels food from their stomach and small intestine. Vomit can include fluids like bile and water, and half-digested debris up with it.
However, regurgitation is different. If your dog is throwing up undigested food, they aren’t actually vomiting. They’re regurgitating from their esophagus.
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to two different processes.
Vomiting is an active process where the stomach expels its contents. On the other hand, regurgitating is a passive process where the dog’s stomach expels undigested food. You'll notice a difference in consistency and chunks of food in regurgitated contents versus vomit.
Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Undigested Food?
If your dog regurgitates food or throws up undigested food, their stomach hasn’t had time to break it down. This means it hasn’t been sitting there for long.
Why does this occur? What are the causes of throwing up undigested food? Let’s take a closer look below.
Eating Too Fast
The first and most common reason your dog may be throwing up undigested food is that they’re eating too fast.
It’s common for dogs to eat fast. Some dogs seem to inhale food without even chewing, and this is a habit you’ll want to work to break because eating too fast can lead to more than just regurgitation.
For instance, if your dog eats too fast and doesn’t chew their food, they can choke. In addition, your dog eating too fast is like suddenly dumping a large amount of food into the stomach all at once. This can be a lot for your dog’s tummy to handle at one time and can lead to bloating, which can progress into a life-threatening condition.
Bloating in dogs can cause the stomach to twist, leading to severe pain and discomfort in its earliest stages. You may hear a medical professional refer to bloat as gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV.
If your dog is eating too quickly, they may experience bloat, discomfort, increased risk for choking, and throwing up undigested food.
Eating a Non-Food Object
If your dog has eaten a non-food object, their bodies use a natural response like regurgitation to try and expel it. If they have also just eaten, food may also come out with the object.
Too Much Activity Right After Eating
You know how you’re not supposed to swim right after you eat? This is something kind of like that.
If your pup decides to start roughhousing or going for a sprint immediately after they eat, they’re really shaking up the food they just put into their stomachs, which can stimulate them to throw up.
Eating Off-Limits Human Food
Your dog may also vomit undigested or partially digested foods if they get into people food that should have been off-limits.
If your dog gets into your food, they may ingest something harmful — grapes, chocolate, nuts, garlic, onions, and chives are just a handful of the most common ingredients that are toxic for dogs and can cause adverse reactions due to poisoning.
If your dog has eaten one of these foods, their bodies may throw it up almost immediately to protect themselves, but you should still contact a vet for further guidance.
There are a few ways you can help your pup avoid regurgitation and stay comfortable after a meal.
Help Your Dog Slow Down
If you suspect your dog is regurgitating their food because they’re eating it too quickly, here are some ways you can help them slow down.
First, you can purchase a special slow-feeding food bowl online or from your local pet store. These bowls are divided into sections or have little obstacle shapes sticking up, making it difficult for your dog to eat all the food pieces at once.
Instead, they have to work for their food. This supports cognitive behavior, mental stimulation, problem-solving skills, and of course, slow-feeding.
You can also make your own version of this bowl at home. Grab a muffin tin or a pan that’s divided into sections. Spread your dog’s food evenly throughout this tin. Your dog won’t eat all their food at once, thus decreasing their chances of throwing up.
Keep Human Foods Out of Reach
Sometimes, human foods can lead to throwing up for your pup. This is why it’s critical to keep human foods out of reach. If you have a larger dog reaching higher or jumping up on the counters, make sure any food is in sealed containers. Better yet, spend extra time training your pup that counters are off-limits — this will take some patience (and it can get frustrating), but it’s a behavior worth putting some time into correcting.
Don’t leave toxic foods like grapes, chocolate, garlic, chives, or onions out where your dog could see and get to them. Even when your dog is trained, they may get into these snacks. Keeping these out of your dog’s reach can help keep them safe.
Feed Them Nutritious Foods
Feeding them a balanced diet with nutrients packed into every bite is another way you can help support your dog’s digestive system and prevent them from throwing up undigested foods.
What should you look for on the dog food label?
Here are a few things to look for.
All-Natural and Human Grade
The first and arguably most crucial quality to look for in dog food is what kind of ingredients they include. For instance, some dog food brands claim their food is healthy, but are they all-natural?
All-natural dog food has strict regulations on preservatives, processing methods, and more. Make sure your pup gets the best with the best label. However, all-natural isn’t enough. Look for dog food that is also human grade.
This means that your dog’s food is so high-quality you could take a bite, too.
Avoid dog foods that are heavily processed with extreme temperatures or chemicals. These can kill off nutrients and turn your dog’s food into empty calories.
Instead, look for air-dried dog food like what we have right here at Sundays. This minimal processing is excellent for keeping your pup’s diet healthy, supportive, and rich in nutrients.
It’s also important to look at the ingredients included. Avoid any “meat meals” like turkey meal, chicken meal, or beef meal.
It’s also important to look through the ingredient list to make sure you’re happy with what goes into your pup’s body.
Look for gluten-free whole grains, whole fruits, whole vegetables, fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats, and lean protein. Here at Sundays, we believe in using the best ingredients and none of the fake stuff.
When To See a Vet
Regurgitation in dogs is a sign that your pup is eating too fast, too much, or moving too soon after eating. However, if your dog is vomiting often and continuously, it may be a good idea to see a veterinarian.
Vomiting can be normal to a certain extent. However, if your dog vomits for more than a few days, it’s essential to see a trusted veterinarian. There could be a serious health condition to address.
Here are a few symptoms to look out for to know when to see a vet:
- Chronic or continuous vomiting
- Vomiting a lot at once
- Vomiting white foam
- Refusal to drink water, leading to dehydration
- Reduced eating, signaling a loss of appetite
- Vomiting blood
- Diarrhea and fever
If your dog displays any of these signs, get medical attention right away. Stomach ulcers, viral infections, liver disease, and kidney failure are all health issues that may cause vomiting, and these need to be treated by a professional. Medication, ultrasound, or x-ray may be necessary to treat the problem.