All pet parents have been there – their beloved pup is vomiting, and they want to help however they can. There are many causes of vomiting in dogs, ranging from stress to motion sickness, to kennel cough or parasites. Naturally, many pet parents wonder if there are any dog anti-vomiting medications or any ways to help their pups recover at home. When is it time to go to the vet? What medicines will a vet prescribe? And how can you help your pup with mild cases at home?
Dog anti-vomiting medicine is not always necessary. When a dog vomits due to stress or dietary indiscretion, it’s often only necessary to remove food for 12 to 24 hours, and then to introduce a bland diet. However, for dogs with motion sickness, some common OTC medicines like antihistamines can be useful. For dogs who vomit for over 24 hours, vomit blood, or show other symptoms, your vet will need to give extra help. To find out more, read on with us, and get in touch with your vet.
What are Dog Anti-Vomiting Medications
Vomiting in dogs is a self-defense mechanism. Most often, mild cases of vomiting are the result of eating something inappropriate and should resolve themselves within 24 hours. In some situations, however, vomiting can indicate an underlying health problem. Such health conditions include kennel cough, diabetes, or bloat. Regardless of the cause, vomiting can lead to a variety of other problems, such as fluid and electrolyte imbalances that can result in shock and dehydration. Vomiting is a particular concern for dogs under general anesthetic, too. So, to control vomiting in dogs, a vet can administer a type of drug known as an antiemetic.
Dog anti-vomiting medications work by either:
- Blocking the vomiting center in your dog’s brain
- Blocking the receptors in the gut that trigger nausea
- Acting directly on the stomach by encouraging it to empty its contents into the bowel
- Decreasing the amount of fluid in the intestines
- Helping to control anxiety and stress that’s causing your dog’s nausea
The best type of drug for your dog depends on the cause of their vomiting. For example, a dog with an intestinal blockage may benefit from a drug that decreases fluid in their intestines. This is because it can reduce the fluid above the blockage, reducing the need to be sick. If your dog has anxiety, though, they may benefit from a medicine that helps to control this instead, as it may help to stop your dog from feeling sick.
When Should Vomiting be a Concern
A one-off bout of vomiting is usually not a cause for concern. In most cases, a one-off vomiting episode is the result of stress, travel sickness, eating too quickly, a sudden diet change, or eating unsuitable foods like greasy table scraps. Frequent or chronic vomiting, however, is the result of any number of health problems. Some conditions that can cause vomiting include gastritis, gut blockages, bloat, heavy worm infestations, diabetes, and kidney disease. Because so many diseases can cause vomiting, it’s important to let your vet know as soon as possible if your dog is unwell.
Be sure to tell your vet if your dog has been vomiting for more than 24 hours, is vomiting constantly without breaks, is very young, very old, or is vomiting alongside other worrying symptoms. Such symptoms might include lethargy, a bloated or painful stomach, retching, blood in their vomit, dehydration, disorientation, or collapse. When contacting your vet, let them know about all of your dog’s symptoms! This will help them to decide which dog anti-vomiting medicine is best for your pup. Overall, you know your dog best. If your dog has none of the above symptoms, rest assured that you can still contact your vet with your concerns.
Most mild, self-resolving cases of vomiting in dogs are completely manageable at home! As well as this, most mild cases of vomiting require no extra medication if your dog is an adult and otherwise healthy. This means that withholding food and giving a bland diet, later on, is usually all you need to do to help your dog to recover.
Is it Safe to Do It
When your dog is vomiting, it’s important that you assess whether you can confidently take care of the issue at home. There are some causes of vomiting that are manageable at home, but other causes are very serious and need treatment by a vet. If your dog has only vomited once or twice, their vomiting is not progressing rapidly, and appears otherwise bright and alert, it might be reasonable to try some at-home treatments. Do not attempt to manage your dog’s vomiting at home if your pup is lethargic, vomiting without breaks, vomiting blood, won’t eat or drink, is very young, very old, or seems disoriented. If in any doubt at all about your dog’s condition, always call your vet for advice first.
If your dog vomits for less than 24 hours without any other concerning symptoms, it is usually safe to keep them at home. However, if your dog vomits for more than 24 hours, it’s important to get your pup to the vet as soon as possible. When vomiting occurs for this amount of time, your dog is at risk of severe dehydration and shock. If your dog has sunken eyes, dry gums, and a lack of skin elasticity, it’s time to see your vet.
Not all cases of vomiting require dog anti-vomiting medications. Perhaps the simplest approach to manage your dog’s vomiting spells is to fast them. This gives their digestive tract time to rest and recover. Without food, your dog should vomit less. You can withhold food for 12 to 24 hours. Do not withhold water during this time. Be sure to encourage your dog to drink small amounts of water when possible. Also, do not withhold food from a newborn puppy! A puppy who vomits and doesn’t eat may become hypoglycemic. If your newborn puppy consistently vomits, tell your vet as soon as possible.
Once your dog’s stomach has settled, it’s time to re-introduce a bland diet. You can try replacing their normal food and replacing it with boiled chicken and rice. If your dog is allergic to chicken, you can swap it for other sources of lean protein like ground beef or turkey. Sweet potato is also a good alternative for rice. The starch (rice or sweet potato) should make up the bulk of your dog’s diet, with the meat mostly present to entice your dog to eat.
If your dog eats too quickly and vomits, it’s time to change how they eat their meals. Firstly, you should supervise your dog when they eat. Dogs who eat too quickly might choke on their food. If possible, it might help to invest in a slow-feeding bowl. Food puzzles, too, are a good option for dogs who eat too fast. By slowing your pup down, they should vomit less often.
OTC & Prescription Drugs
Depending on the cause of your dog’s vomiting spells, there are several drugs that can manage their symptoms. Motion sickness, for example, is treatable using common medicines like Benadryl and Meclizine. However, it’s very important to ask your vet before giving any OTC medicines to your dog. The exact cause of your dog’s vomiting must be clear, and they must be otherwise healthy and bright. Do not attempt to treat chronic vomiting yourself at home with any home dog anti-vomiting medications.
There are several types of prescription drugs that a vet can give to manage vomiting in dogs. These include phenothiazine tranquilizers, anticholinergics, antihistamines, serotonin agonists, metoclopramide, and butorphanol. Each drug has its own pros and cons, and some dogs may be more sensitive to specific drugs than others. Because of this, your vet will carefully decide which dog anti-vomiting medications are best for your furry friend.
Pepto-Bismol – Pepto-Bismol is safe to give to most dogs. However, it must be used with extreme caution for dogs with gastric ulcers, as salicylates such as this can cause bleeding. If you plan to give a dog Pepto-Bismol, give no more than one or two doses, and only offer it with a vet’s approval. Dogs with bleeding disorders and dogs who are pregnant or nursing should not take Pepto-Bismol or any other form of bismuth subsalicylate! With this said, the recommended dose is 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight.
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – Benadryl is an antihistamine that helps to manage allergy symptoms. However, it’s also useful for managing motion sickness. Be sure to call your vet to check that Benadryl is best for your vomiting pup. Also, it is unsuitable for dogs with hyperthyroidism, heart conditions, glaucoma, as well as pregnant dogs. Your vet can also direct you on the best dose for your dog. However, the general recommended dose is 2-4 mg of Benadryl per kg of body weight.
Meclizine – Meclizine is sold as Antivert®, Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula, Bonine®, and Bonamine®. This drug is sometimes given to help dogs with motion sickness. It has anti-vomiting and sedative effects. For dogs, the most common dose is 4mg per kg of body weight given once every 24 hours.
Metoclopramide – Metoclopramide (Reglan® and Maxolon®) is a drug given to manage acid reflux and vomiting in dogs. Available as a tablet, syrup, or injection, this drug should start working within 1 to 2 hours. Its potential side effects include hyperactivity, drowsiness, constipation, and needing to go to the toilet more. A more serious side effect is uncharacteristic aggression. This drug is also sometimes given to reduce the risk of vomiting and acid reflux whilst your dog is under general anesthetic.
Maropitant Citratec – Maropitant citrate (Cerenia®) is an anti-vomiting drug for treating motion sickness and vomiting in dogs, especially in association with chemotherapy. It can also act as a mild pain control medicine. This drug is available as a tablet or injection and takes effect in 1 to 2 hours. When given to manage motion sickness, be sure to give your pooch a small meal about three hours before you travel, and then give the medicine one hour after their meal. Be cautious when using this medicine, as exposure to your own skin can cause an allergic reaction. This medicine cannot be given alongside several other drugs, phenobarbital, erythromycin, and NSAIDs.
Butorphanol – Butorphanol (Stadol®, Torbutrol®, Torbugesic®, and Dolorex®) is a partial opiate agonist with several uses. This drug can be given to control pain, coughing, and vomiting. Butorphanol is usually given under the skin, into the muscle, or into the vein through an injection. However, it’s also available as a tablet. For breeds with an MDR1 mutation, this drug may need to be given in a 25 to 50% smaller dose.
Dog Anti-Vomiting Medication: FAQ
Have any more questions or concerns about dog anti-vomiting medications? Feel free to browse our Frequently Asked Questions section for more details. If in any doubt about your dog’s health, always ask your vet for advice. Vomiting can be a sign of several serious problems, so it’s always best for a vet to check your pup over!
If a dog vomits white foam, it usually signals gastrointestinal distress. Foamy vomit might occur if your dog has a lot of gas in their stomach. This may be due to something as simple as eating grass or eating fatty foods that irritate their digestive tract. However, it’s also possible for foamy vomit to signal a more serious problem. Kennel cough, for example, can cause foamy vomit in dogs. Tracheal collapse, bloat, acid reflux, and kidney problems can also result in foamy vomit. If your dog is vomiting foam, make sure to check them for other symptoms of illness and call your vet. Your vet can prescribe dog anti-vomiting medications to help.
The best way to settle your dog’s stomach after vomiting is to withhold food, then to re-introduce a bland diet. You may withhold food from your dog for 12 to 24 hours as necessary. If your dog’s vomiting stops during this time, you can begin to offer them plain, bland food in place of their normal food. Boiled chicken without skin or bones and boiled rice are the diets of choice for vomiting dogs. However, if your dog has any allergies, you can substitute these ingredients for other suitable ones. Ground beef and turkey can be given in place of chicken, and sweet potato can substitute for boiled rice.
Clear vomit is made up of saliva and water. The simplest explanation for this type of vomit is when your dog drinks too quickly or just drinks too much. However, there are some other possible causes of your dog’s vomiting spells. Ponds and stagnant pools of water may be contaminated by bacteria and harmful blue-green algae that can cause your dog to vomit after drinking. Other symptoms that might arise include diarrhea, black stools, no appetite, weakness, muscle tremors, and respiratory distress. Some dogs will suffer from seizures and fall into a coma. Be sure to tell your vet if your dog shows any of these symptoms after drinking water.
Much like people, dogs can also get sick to their stomachs from anxiety and stress. The other signs of anxiety and stress in dogs include pacing, shaking, whining, yawning, drooling, shedding more, panting, going to the toilet more, and hiding. Most dogs will lose their appetite when stressed. Some dogs also display displacement behaviors, meaning that they focus on something else rather than the stressful stimulus – this might mean that they lick their paws or sniff the ground instead of interacting with others. If your dog is consistently stressed, make sure to talk to your vet. After making sure that your dog’s stress has no medical basis, your vet might recommend a trainer or behaviorist for your dog’s anxiety problems. Anxiety-reducing mediations are also an option for some dogs, but not all.
Firstly, it’s important to distinguish between coughing, vomiting, and gagging. Loosely speaking, if a dog coughs, they don’t bring anything up. In contrast, gagging happens when your dog widely opens their mouth and makes a retching sort of sound. Unlike vomiting, your dog will not bring anything up, and your dog might cough before or after gagging. Lastly, vomiting is the most obvious, as your dog will expel their stomach contents onto the floor.
Gagging is caused by kennel cough or problems with the larynx. If your dog coughs and then gags, it’s likely that a lower respiratory disease and bronchitis are to blame. When your dog gags and then coughs, dysfunction of the larynx is probably a better fit. Kennel cough, a type of respiratory infection, commonly causes harsh coughing and gagging in dogs. Similarly, pneumonia can sometimes cause gagging in dogs. Laryngeal paralysis is common in elderly Labrador Retrievers and Newfoundlands, which can cause gagging, too.
While some cases of vomiting are treatable at home, others require veterinary treatment. Dog anti-vomiting medications come in several forms. The best dog anti-vomiting medicine for your pup will depend on their condition, age, and any breed-related issues.