Let’s face it – coming home to find your dog sitting proudly next to a mountain of dried vomit isn’t fun. In fact, around 52% of pet owners worry about their dog throwing up unexpectedly! So once you’re done cleaning up the mess, you might’ve wondered: why is my dog throwing up? And what can you do to get them better?

A bit of hacking, gagging, and even barfing isn’t always a cause of concern. In fact, sometimes throwing up can be a lifesaving mechanism that prevents your dog from getting poisoned. Because with all the foods dogs shouldn’t eat, monitoring every bite, lick, and taste that goes into their mouths is step one.

So we’re going to cover all the reasons your dog might be throwing up – including if they’re vomiting white foam, blood, or even undigested food hours after eating. (Plus what to do – and also how to catch on early to a sign they’re ill.)

Why is my dog throwing up? The most common reasons

Now depending on what exactly your dog is throwing up, it might not necessarily be an emergency. Vomiting is how our bodies rid themselves of harmful bacteria or toxins. So the reasons your dog is throwing up might range from minor and temporary – like motion sickness – to more serious health concerns.

Let’s dive into each of these in detail.

Your dog ate a bit too much – too quickly

Probably the most common reason – your dog might be vomiting because they’ve just bitten off more than they can chew. (Literally.) Or have just swallowed a bit too fast out of excitement.

A woman feeding a hungry dog a forkful of food

In these cases, your dog might not really have thrown up – but simply regurgitated instead. I.e., when they seem to “vomit” mostly bits of undigested foods. In this case, the food might not have reached your dog’s stomach. So in this case, it might not be a major concern.

Regurgitated food can turn up as brown vomit. Your dog might also barf it back up if they’ve swallowed some air while chewing and swallowing.1

⚠️ Just watch out for other signs of nausea, like drooling or excessive swallowing and licking the lips. These could indicate your dog is about to throw up more forcefully.

You’ve switched up your dog’s diet or meds

Other, minor cases where you might wonder – why is my dog throwing up? – include a change in your dog’s diet or medication. (Like if you’re putting them on a diet or as a side effect of new meds.) In these cases, your dog’s vomiting might only be temporary.

A dog sniffing at a piece of lettuce next to a woman

This reason might also answer the question: why is my dog throwing up undigested food hours after eating? I.e., your dog might eat some new food way too quickly, or too much of it, or their system might not be used to a change. Make sure to monitor your buddy’s portion sizes to ensure they aren’t overating.

Read more: What Makes Dogs Fat? Getting An Overweight Dog Back In Shape

Your dog’s eaten or drunk something they shouldn’t have

Dogs aren’t picky eaters. Some are so food motivated, they might eat through nausea – or even if they aren’t hungry.

Which is where it makes sense to monitor every bite, lick, and taste that goes through their mouths – and also track where they’re off wandering. (So you can prevent them from raiding your neighborhood garbage disposal area.)

Because another primary reason your dog is throwing up is if they’ve eaten something that should be off-limits for them. Including:

  • Trash
  • Spoiled food
  • Dirty water (including from shared water bowls)
  • Foods from your kitchen that might be toxic to them
A dog sniffing a slice of toast on a kitchen table behind a woman
  • Their own poop (which might contain worms)
  • Toxic plants or other toxins – some from common household items (like snail bait)
  • A foreign object (like a toy) that might now be stuck in their intestinal tract
  • And even grass!

In these cases, your dog might experience gastritis (an upset stomach) or more seriously, gastroentritis (which is an inflammation of the stomach and intestinal tract) – which might show up as vomiting.2

What to do

First, get informed on what foods are off-limits to dogs.

Second, make sure your friends and family are aware of what foods are off-limits for your dog. (Especially if you’re hosting them for a party or some celebration like Christmas, Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, or New Years.) You want to avoid one of your kids or a younger guest sneakily feeding your dog something potentially toxic off their plate.

Third, monitor where your dog’s getting fed – whether that’s sneaking foods you’ve dropped on your kitchen floor while cooking, or a neighbor who just can’t resist those big old puppy eyes. (And who might end up accidentally poisoning them instead.)

A child sitting on a chair secretly feeding a dog

💡Tracking your dog’s outdoor wanderings can help you understand where they like to scavenge for food – including your neighbors’ backyards, the local trash dump, or even somewhere too far from safety. Where they’re always at risk of eating something harmful or which contains dangerous items like broken glass or other toxic substances.

With a dog GPS tracker, for example, you can follow your dog’s movements in real-time and over an unlimited range.

For example, you can set up a Virtual Fence with your trusty Tractive GPS – and set up a “safe zone” for your dog. Now the minute your dog tries to escape to forage around for leftovers, you’ll get an instant escape alert. (So you can intervene and bring them back to safety.)

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Your dog’s suffering an infection

Now whether it’s from eating their own poop – or even their own vomit! – your dog might end up with a nasty case of infection. (From either bacteria, viruses, or even fungi – depending on what they’ve eaten.)

Once your dog’s system figures out it’s being attacked by intestinal parasites, it might trigger a vomiting episode to rid your dog’s bodies of these harmful substances.

⚠️ In fact, worms and other infectious organisms might cause your dog to throw up or even experience diarrhea. If your dog’s eaten spoiled food or something from the trash, you might even see live worms in their poop or vomit.3

Make sure to get your dog to a vet immediately if you notice these. Plus, keep your dog firmly leashed if you’ve decided to take out the trash while heading out for your walk together. Monitor every morsel they’re sniffing or biting while out on walks.

A woman throwing away her trash accompanied by her dog

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Something’s built up in your dog’s stomach

Your dog’s stomach might end up with a buildup of different substances – all of which might show up as different types of vomit. So as gross as it might be, keep an eye out for these signs and make sure to get your dog to a vet as soon as you can if you see any of these.

💡If you’ve determined that your dog is throwing up because of, say acid reflux or buildup, Pepcid AC (famotidine) and Prilosec (omeprazole) can help settle their stomach.4

Just remember: only a vet can provide you a 100% proper diagnosis.

Why is my dog throwing up green vomit? Or grass?

Green vomit might be a sign your dog’s eaten grass – whether from your lawn or your neighbors’ or the neighborhood park. It could also indicate your dog’s stomach has a buildup of bile. (Which might also turn up as yellow vomit.)5

Now why do dogs eat grass in the first place? Well, one of the reasons could be to induce themselves to vomit! Your dog might eat grass to soothe an upset stomach – but which can open up the risk of them swallowing toxic substances like pesticides or snail bait.

A Golden Retriever sitting outdoors in a sunny lawn

Why is my dog throwing up white foam?

Stomach acid buildup might lead your dog might throw up white, foamy vomit instead.

Why is my dog throwing up clear vomit? Or slimy vomit?

In some cases, water might pool in your dog’s stomach instead – resulting in clear, almost liquid vomit.

Or, if your dog’s drool builds up in their stomach, it might result in “slimy” vomit that looks like mucus.

A vet checking up on a sick dog at a clinic

Why is my dog throwing up blood?

Blood in your dog’s vomit is almost always a concerning sign. It may indicate that your dog’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract is pooling with blood. Your dog’s stomach or small intestines might be bleeding if you notice:

  • Blood clots
  • Fresh blood
  • Or your dog’s vomit resembling coffee grounds

Blood in your dog’s vomit might be the result of a tumor, blood clotting problems, or if they’ve eaten something highly toxic.6 Get your dog to a vet immediately if you notice any of these signs.

Read more:

Exercise right after food

Some dogs are just ready to go no matter what, when, or how. Unfortunately, if they’re already leaping at you for walkies right after meals…well, it could just end up with them throwing up all over you instead out of excitement.

So make sure to:

  • Build a routine of regular walks a good 20-30 minutes after meals. (So your dog’s stomach has enough time to safely digest meals.)
  • Adjust your dog’s portion sizes a bit more over the day.
  • Avoid any strenuous sports or activity directly after meals.
A woman running on a beach followed by a black dog

💡Tracking your dog’s daily activity can actually help you adjust their portion sizes better – and also figure out if they’ve gotten enough exercise. Vets even recommend it to catch on to a health problem early on.6

Luckily, your Tractive device comes equipped with a built-in motion detector that picks up your dog’s movements throughout the day. Helping you both keep them active, build them a predictable routine, and take an active role in your buddy’s health and wellbeing.

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Your dog’s experiencing heat stroke

Ever wondered: why is my dog throwing up…in the warmer months? Turns out, vomiting is actually one of the lesser-known signs of heat stroke in dogs. (And not just panting or drinking water excessively.)7

Dogs overheat when their body temperatures soar above 39°C. Make sure to stay informed on the signs of heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke in dogs – and keep your buddy safe.

⚠️ Try and avoid taking walks outdoors with the sun directly overhead. And of course, never leave your dog locked in a vehicle under any circumstances.

A woman and dog sitting outdoors in a sunny field

Vomiting can dehydrate your dog – so you might find them lapping up water excessively after they’re done barfing. But make sure to keep an eye out for other signs of heat stroke as well, including panting, drooling, diarrhea, and even vomiting.

Read more:

Other health conditions that might cause vomiting in dogs

Besides the other reasons we’ve covered, your dog might throw up due to a more serious health condition. Including:

  • Addison’s disease
  • Bloating, or gastric dilation and volvulus
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Food allergies
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Hemmorhagic gastroentritis
  • Kidney disease
A sick dog cuddled by a woman wearing a blue sweater
  • Liver disease
  • Meningitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Parvovirus
  • Tumors
  • Ulcers

Parvovirus, in particular, is contagious – and one of the most common health conditions that might cause a dog to vomit.

  • If you’re regularly boarding your dog or they’re hanging out with other dogs in big groups quite often, there’s always the risk they might catch it.
  • Puppies and certain dog breeds (especially working dog breeds) are especially vulnerable to it.
  • Parvovirus usually begins with symptoms like lethargy – followed by vomiting and a drop in your dog’s appetite.8

Read more:

A pack of Beagles playing in an outdoor field

Now on the downside, many of these health conditions can be life-threatening and even require hospitalization and surgery.

But on the bright side? Most of these conditions don’t just turn up overnight. Rather, they develop gradually over time.

And the good news is, there’s a lot you can do as a responsible dog parent to catch on to these conditions early – and prevent them from worsening down the line. (Which can help you avoid a hefty – and thoroughly avoidable – vet bill and other medical expenses.)

Dog throwing up: What signs to watch out for & when to drop by your vet

Now if your dog has been throwing up for less than half a day (or around 12 hours) and seems able to eat and drink normally, give it a little time before you head to your vet.

However, here are some situations where you need to make an emergency vet visit. Head over to your vet immediately if you’re noticing:

  • Vomiting accompanied with diarrhea (especially if it’s bloody)
  • Bloody vomit
  • Your dog is extremely lethargic after vomiting – or shaking uncontrollably
  • Your dog has just swallowed a foreign object or something toxic
  • Your dog is projectile vomiting (which might indicate they’ve swallowed a foreign object)
  • Your dog is dry heaving – but nothing is coming out
A sick dog lying on blue floorboards

Got a puppy or a senior dog at home? They’re more vulnerable to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance after vomiting. If you’re noticing they’re peeing less or excessively drinking water, make sure to get them to a vet immediately.

Similarly, if you notice your dog more reluctant around mealtimes or just refusing to eat, make sure to stay extra vigilant. A dog not eating (or drinking water) isn’t always an emergency, but it could indicate a more serious health condition as well.

Read more:

What to expect at a vet visit if your dog is throwing up

Once you’ve gotten your dog to the vet’s clinic, here are some of the steps in the treatment process.

  • Go prepared and informed about your dog’s medical history, food and drinking habits, and general behaviors. Your vet will need these details to provide a detailed diagnosis.
  • Your vet might administer medication via injection to your dog. (Because they might end up vomiting out a pill instead.) Common anti-vomiting medications include Cerenia, Reglan, and Zofran.
  • Your vet might prescribe you a gradual change in your dog’s diet. (Mostly bland, easily-digestible foods.)
A vet examining a dog for their symptoms at a clinic

Besides these, your vet might run a few more tests to determine why your dog is throwing up.9 Including:

  • Blood and urine/fecal tests
  • An ultrasound, in case your dog’s abdomen is swollen and tender to touch
  • A biopsy of your dog’s stomach and intestinal tract
  • And when necessary, surgery

How you can prevent your dog from getting sick

Treating a sick dog can be expensive – no matter what’s ailing them. But with a few, practical steps, you can take a more active role in your buddy’s health and wellbeing. (To both prevent them from falling sick – or catch on early if you notice they’re behaving differently than usual.)

Pay extra attention to your dog’s diet

You might need to switch up your dog’s regular foods for a couple of weeks until their stomach settles. But even if your buddy’s situation isn’t so serious, be extra careful what they eat – no matter if they’re vomiting just a bit or quite a bit.

Which is why vets recommend:

  • Not switching up your dog’s diet suddenly – but slowly, steadily, over time. Much like cats, dogs are creatures of habit and routine. So a sudden change can majorly stress them out.
  • Avoid “breakable” foods – like dog bones. These might get stuck in your buddy’s throat and cause choking and gagging. Plus, they often lead to vomiting.
  • Keep table scraps as a hard no-no. (Yes, no matter how much your dog begs.) It might seem funny feeding your dog that last bit of mushroom pizza – but it’s less funny when you’re having to drive them to the vet at 3 am because they’ve barfed all over your carpet.
A woman feeding a dog high-quality dog food in a steel bowl indoors

Besides these tips, make sure your dog isn’t chewing on any toys with breakable bits. If your dog ends up swallowing these by accident, it can majorly irritate (or even block) their gastrointestinal tract.

Ensure your dog isn’t off dumpster-diving

Ever hear of the term “garbage gut”? It’s what vets refer to as cases of gastroenteritis that’s caused when pets eat food or items they’ve scavenged out of the trash.10

So if your dog is in the habit of dumpster diving – and escaping home to do so – here’s what you can do:

  • Monitor your dog’s behavior while out on walks. Be firm and steer clear from paths with garbage cans or litter on the streets. (Which might include candy wrappers and other foods or items dangerous for dogs…or even mushrooms, which could poison them.)
A woman walking her dog in a grassy field
  • Stay on top of their location to prevent a runaway attempt. Dogs run away from home for all sorts of reasons – one of them being boredom! Make sure you’ve planned ahead for an escape attempt – plus, what you’ll do if your dog ends up getting lost by themselves.

💡Getting your dog microchipped is a great way to help a vet or shelter identify you as the rightful owner of your dog. Besides, it might even be a legal requirement in most US states and countries around the world.

But just remember: a microchip won’t send you an escape alert or help you track down your dog in real-time.

That’s where a dog GPS tracker with unlimited range can be a lifesaver.

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Get informed if your dog might be more vulnerable to vomiting

Dogs of all breeds, shapes, sizes, and temperaments can end up eating something weird or picking up an infection. But certain dog breeds might be more vulnerable to certain conditions. For example:

  • Working dog breeds that tend to get trained together in big groups might be at higher risk of picking up parvovirus and other contagious diseases. Some of these breeds include Malamutes, Huskies, Shepherds, and Retrievers.
  • Bigger dogs and large-chested dog breeds might be more vulnerable to bloating and GI issues. Like Shepherds, Great Danes, Poodles, and the Labrador/Retriever family.11
A German Shepherd sitting outdoors in a sunny field
  • Brachycephalic dog breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, and Bull Mastiffs might be more prone to weight gain and other health conditions like diabetes mellitus.
  • Some dog breeds are extremely food-motivated and might eat anything you offer them. Including Dashchunds, Pugs, Norwegian Elkhounds, Corgis, and Beagles.

So with a little homework, work with your vet to figure out if your dog’s breed puts them at risk of any health conditions that might include vomiting. They can help you take steps to prevent these health conditions from developing – or how you can catch them early.

Track your dog’s daily activity

Ever wondered why your dog might actually…well, eat their own vomit?

Well, at least one of the reasons is that they’re trying to hide their sickness from other “predators”.12 Which, when you think of your dog’s evolutionary history, makes sense. (Since a sick wild dog or wolf would be more vulnerable to attack.)

In fact, your dog might even hide away to throw up secretly – and then turn up, tail wagging, seeming happy and healthy as usual. (And then try to give you a kiss.) And much like cats, your dog might mask their signs of pain and discomfort from you…until it’s too late and their health has worsened.

A sick Border Collie hiding in the grass

💡This is why vets recommend tracking your pet’s activity to stay on the lookout for any changes – so you can take action early.

In fact, some diseases that cause vomiting – like parvovirus and bloating – often start with signs like lethargy and a drop in your dog’s daily activity.

And if you’re a smart dog parent and have invested in a Tractive device, you’re in luck. With regular Activity Monitoring, you can catch on to a dip or a spike in your dog’s active minutes early – even if your dog seems normal and healthy.

Dog running with tennis ball in mouth in the grass, Tractive GPS app in foreground

Plus, even if you miss a day or two of checking your dog’s active minutes – our Health Alerts have you covered.

Sebastian Raab, Product Manager at Tractive

It can be easy to miss out on changes in your pet’s regular activity – or just if they’re on the move more or less than usual.

So we’ve set up Activity Degradation alerts for when your pet’s active minutes drop significantly. They can help you intervene in a situation where your dog or cat might be struggling with an infection or even just pain.

– Sebastian Raab, Product Manager at Tractive & occasional pet sitter

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So…why is my dog throwing up? And what can I do?

Wrapping up – here are the most common reasons you’ll find your dog with a bad case of the barfing blues.

  • They’ve eaten too fast (or too much.) Help your dog slow down while eating with smaller portion sizes – or distribute their meals throughout the day.
  • They’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have. Stay informed on foods that are off-limits to dogs – and keep an eye out for dogs that are especially food-motivated and more likely to get “garbage gut” from dumpster diving.
  • They’ve got buildup in their stomach, likely from acid, water, drool, or even blood. Pay attention to how your dog’s vomit appears – and get them to a vet immediately if you notice any blood.
  • They’ve got a stomach bug, whether from a virus, bacteria, or even fungi. Monitor your dog’s movements to ensure they’re staying well clear of poisonous substances, spoiled food, trash, and toxins.
A white dog wearing a leash and sniffing a steel food bowl
  • They got active a little too quickly after meals, which can cause vomiting and nausea. Time your daily walks a bit after meals to help them build a routine.
  • They might be experiencing heat stroke, if you’re out walking them in the sun for too long. Stay informed on the symptoms of heat stroke in dogs, which include dizziness, nausea, confusion, excessive drooling and drinking water – along with vomiting.
  • They might be more vulnerable to vomiting as a result of their breed, build, and how often they’re around other dogs.
  • They might be experiencing another, more serious health condition. Most of which don’t actually begin with vomiting – but rather lethargy, a reluctance to eat, and even sleep disturbances a a result of pain and discomfort.

Stay on top of your dog’s health & safety – for good

There’s a reason why Tractive dog parents around the world – just like you – are investing in our life-saving technology.

Because when it comes to a dog that’s throwing up, you can now:

  • Prevent your dog from going dumpster diving – with a Virtual Fence that sends you an escape alert the minute your dog tries to sneak past a “safe zone”. (Like your backyard.)
  • Track your dog’s daily activity – to catch on to a drop early on. Contagious health conditions like parvovirus usually begin with symptoms like lethargy. So with a Health Alert, your Tractive device helps you take action early and get your dog to a vet on time – before their condition worsens.

Because when it comes to our furry friends and the joy they bring to our lives – it’s always worth taking that extra step for their health, happiness, and safety…and for your peace of mind.

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Want a vet’s take on why your dog is throwing up? Here’s Dr. Lindsay Butzer (DVM) weighing in on how to treat a vomiting dog at home:

And if you’ve found this post helpful, share it with a friend or a loved one – and let’s build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends together.