It’s worrying when your puppy or dog starts to vomit, and you’re right to be concerned.
As I’m writing this, Indie’s just been sick three times, and I quickly realised that I actually hadn’t covered with you guys what I do when my dogs are unwell, how I deal with it, and what I would recommend for you.
NB: I am not going to be giving puke pictures! So please don’t fret!
In this piece, we’re going to discuss your options, when to worry, when to not, and warning signs to look for.
Knowing when to worry and when not to is something that comes with practice, but I am still hoping that this will help guide you just a smidge!
Signs of Impending Doom…
By impending doom I mean vomit (puke, whatever!), each dog has their own tells, so you’ll have to watch yours in order to gain an idea on the pattern that you might see – but generally speaking they’ll be one or a combination of the things on this list.
Consequently, my best advice is to familiarise yourself with the signs, and then piece it together in a pattern.
If you’re not eating a juicy steak and they’re drooling? It could be a sign that they’re not feeling that great. This is one of the things Indie does
This is (unsurprisingly) one of the last things that happens when your dog is about to be sick, and it’s a noise that sparks a sudden amount of movement in most dog owners. It’s a certain noise – I don’t even know how best to describe it, but a real heave from their deepest place, that rings into your memory.
Eating Things They Shouldn’t
Naturally, if they eat something they shouldn’t have? One of the ways it comes out is by vomiting. This is often a precursor for vomit, though as always with ingestion? Monitor them! Because it’s going to come out one way or another – and we should always hope for a non-surgical route!
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If they’re not wanting food – especially if they’re a keen eater normally – then this is often a warning sign that your dog is unwell.
If they’re being a little more sedate than normal? Then it could be the case that they’re not doing that great – there’s a lot of potentials here for it to be serious? And if it’s prolonged, that can particularly be the case!
I know this one from experience that when Indie gets ill? He wants cuddles more often than normal. It’s often a sign he’s under the weather, which can be a precursor to vomiting.
Again! I really want you to remember that this is a guide, and knowing and understanding your dogs normal is incredibly important! If you are worried go to the vets!!
Before we begin – Vomit can be any colour under the rainbow and possibly some more! But this is usually from ingestion. Before you consider the colour of their vomit? Consider what they’ve eaten and if that could affect the colouration of what’s come up.
If they eat a bottle of food colouring? Or an entire red velvet cake? It’s likely it’ll come out that colour.
Remember, if we hear hoofbeats – we think horses, not zebra! (I know it’s tough sometimes, it’s so easy to panic, I’ve been there).
As gross as vomit is? There’s so much information contained in it.
Yellow usually means bile – bile is pretty normal for puke and basically means that whatever it was that has come up, got to your pup’s stomach and is coming back – often that’s because it doesn’t agree with them or isn’t digestible. You might even find that there are blades of grass in here! Dogs sometimes do this to make sure they bring up whatever it is that’s causing an issue.
I find this is the vomit I learn the most from – because I then learn what Indie can’t digest – or what’s not appropriate for lucy to eat and try and dissuade her from doing it again (Lucy thinks all the berried in the garden are edible, but they’re not all berries! Haha, luckily there’s nothing poisonous).
This one might even appear bubbly. This is usually a ‘hunger’ puke, but if this is a prolonged affair? And this happens even when they’ve eaten? That could well be a vet trip!
This one’s a doozy. So, let’s ask a question:
Does your puppy eat poop?
If so, does the puke smell like poop? If so? Likely just bringing up the poop!
Coprophagia can be solved by the way!
If they’re not a poop eater – then this can be blood. Be conscious of the amounts. Brown blood is usually dead blood, or blood that has been around a while. This one could be a matter of consistency or quantity to cause concern in my opinion! If it’s regular? Worry, if there’s a lot? Worry.
Red is a bad colour, it’s a worry now colour, it’s a call the vet, now. Usually the brighter the tone of red? The fresher the blood. Though, to be fair, neither is a good thing. Vet please.
Clear and watery is usually saliva or water, it’s often a sign that your dog is unwell, but hasn’t eaten anything and the only thing they can bring up? Is the water they’ve drunk.
To me? This one’s one that worries me.
This is often a Gastrointestinal issue, virus or bacteria or acid reflux
What is Bile?
Bile is essentially stomach acids, so when that comes back, it means that whatever came up? Came up from the stomach. Often, this isn’t a worrying factor, it mainly means that whatever your pup ate, didn’t agree with them!
Some of these are more serious than others, but any of these are not great things and should indicate that a trip to the vet is on the cards for you and your little woof shortly.
Lethargy, or a lack of energy and a subdued manner? Is one that concerns me anything that brings them off of their ‘normal mood’ is something that we should consider problematic (at least initially!)
Lack Of Balance
A lack of coordination or discombobulation is definitely a thing to worry about! This one is a real warning sign and I’d be straight to the vets if you see this.
Not Keeping Water Down
Another big scary one. This is a vet trip, straight away. It’s a risky one to not have hydration, just as it is for humans!
This should go without saying, but if you see this in your pup’s puke? It’s time to pack up and get in the car and call the vet en route.
Elongated periods of sickness
If your pup is sick for long periods of time? Then it’s a really delicate scenario inside of them.
If you’re particularly unlucky, you might find worms in there. If that happens, then it will be a vet trip too! Maybe not an emergency one though, unless there are multiple, large wrigglers. And trust me… you’ll know what they look like when you see them! They’re really quite charming.
If you’re concerned, talking to your vet is never a bad idea if you’re concerned. Even if it’s a quick call, you can either waylay your fear, or confirm your concerns and then they can be prepared for your arrival too.
Online Vets – Pawp
This one? Especially if you’re a new puppy parent, you can really benefit from something like Pawp in order to double check whether it’s something to worry about. I love how it works, it’s so simple, user friendly, and can be just the easiest solution when you’re worried about these things.
Heatstroke can cause vomiting, it’s good to recognise the signs of this too, because if it’s already gotten to this stage? Then you need to head to the vets, asap! Heatstroke can happen in any season too, it’s good to note – but it is (of course) most likely in the summer.
If your pup hasn’t been fed in a while (which might be overnight!), they may bring up yellow-ish bile and froth. To solve these? Feed more often, in smaller quantities – and if you need to maybe include a light midnight snack!
Something Stuck Pukes
Usuaully your pup will eat a bunch of grass to try and make themselves vomit. But this will often be very obvious as to what’s causing it, there will be blades of grass, bile, and then usually something that didn’t agree with them.
A Note For Raw feeders
If you feed carcass (Things with whole bones) then if your dog decides to not chew things properly (which can happen from time to time, though they do tend to learn), then occasionally it can not go all the way down, so sometimes it comes back. Don’t panic about these, just (if you can) encourage your little one to chew properly.
Things You Can Do For Upset Tummies
Sometimes the very best thing you can do for your puppy isn’t quite obvious, and the route to recovery can feel even more murky, but this is what I do to get my woofs feeling their best again!
I love bone broth for dogs. I make my own, it’s one of those super-nutritious immune boosters that’s a wonderful healthy.
Feeding bone broth can be a nutritious meal and hydrate at the same time. It’s softer than a full meal, but it is still jam-packed full of good stuff that will help them on their journey to recovery!
If you want the recipe? Here’s the one I use!
Sometimes? Not feeding for 24hrs can let your pup work things out. Usually, this one’s more for diarrhea, but if they have a combo of both? Starving them for 12 or 24hrs just gives their insides a little break. Of course we don’t restrict water in this time! Just food.
Feed Plain Starches & Protein
Chicken, beef or white fish (depending on allergies, chicken is usually the best) boiled and coupled rice, pasta, or even mashed potato.
All of these are considered plain and should (in small quantities) help to feed your pup without upsetting their insides too much.
Skip Your Walk
And this goes double if the weather is bad!!
Right now, your dogs immune system needs a little time to recover. I’m sure you’ll know when they’re back to they’re back to their normal selves!
This is usually the last thing that I’ll do, but when we’re keeping food down consistently, I’ll often add some probiotics to their food for a few days to help the recovery process along!
And Don’t Forget To Listen To Them!
It might be tempting to coddle them, and they may love that – but they also may not. And when your dog is unwell? It puts you at a heightened risk of being bitten. A dog who is unwell (and potentially in pain) should always be considered a bite risk – no matter what their normal temperament might be.
Feel Better Soon!
I hate that your pup isn’t feeling well, I understand how stressful it can be.
But that’s life with a puppy right?
If you want to take some of the unknown out of raising your puppy, I can totally help you there, this is exactly why I created pupdates! They can help you to have your answers before you have the questions!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021’s worlds’ best pet blog!