Every pet parent has been there – they rush to clean up their dog’s vomit, and their dog is already scarfing it back up! This is often alarming for owners who have not seen the behavior before. It also begs the question, “should you let your dog eat their vomit?” Is it harmful to them? Is it normal for dogs to eat their vomit? And what is the difference between vomiting and regurgitation?
Much to the relief of many new owners, dogs eating their vomit is a normal and natural behavior. When the vomit is the result of eating too quickly or eating too much, eating vomit poses no risk to your pup. The problem arises, however, when dogs vomit for other reasons. These reasons include eating harmful objects, toxic foods, or illnesses that cause vomiting as a symptom. To find out more about dogs eating their vomit, read on with us.
If the vomiting is too regular, make sure you speak to your vet as they may recommend an anti-vomiting dog drug.
Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Vomit
While eating vomit is definitely gross to people, to dogs, it’s a perfectly natural behavior. Dogs will eat their own vomit because it is a food source. There may also be an instinctive element to the behavior, as eating vomit may hide traces of the dog from predators. Vomiting can signal that a dog is unwell, too, so hiding the evidence increases their chance of survival. Regurgitation, which can appear similar to vomiting to the untrained eye, can even be maternal behavior. A study on Swedish dogs found that more than 60% of breeders saw regurgitation amongst their dogs. This behavior is part of the natural weaning process. As such, it is normal for puppies to eat regurgitated food!
Lastly, some dogs may eat their own vomit due to anxiety. If your rescue dog was previously scolded for having accidents in the house, they might eat their feces or vomit to avoid punishment. It goes without saying that you should not punish your pup for having accidents indoors – instead, redirect them! Interrupt your dog when you catch them in the act and immediately take them to their bathroom spot. Praise them and give them a treat if they finish in that spot. Punishments can encourage undesirable behaviors like eating vomit and feces and cause anxiety in your pup.
Is My Dog’s Vomit Harmful When Consumed
It can be alarming to witness your dog eating their own vomit, but in most cases, it is not harmful. If your dog’s vomiting is the result of them eating too quickly, there is little harm in them eating these leftovers. However, if your dog’s vomiting is the result of poisoning, or eating something inappropriate, it’s important to clean up the mess and stop them from eating it right away. Your dog will vomit to get rid of the harmful object or substance, and eating it back up again will only cause them to become sick once again. Be on the lookout for vomit containing foreign objects, blood, or anything other than their usual food.
While it is usually safe for dogs to eat their own vomit, it is not a behavior that some owners would encourage. If your dog does eat something harmful and goes to eat their vomit before you can stop them, it could end very badly for your pooch. As such, it’s always best to clean up your dog’s vomit before they can get to it wherever possible. Do not punish your pup for trying to eat their own vomit, as it’s a natural behavior for them. Instead, redirect them to something else and clean up the mess as quickly as you can.
Dogs Eating Their Own Vomit: FAQ
Have any more questions or concerns about dogs eating their vomit? Feel free to check our Frequently Asked Questions for more details. If in doubt about your dog’s vomiting habits, always ask your vet for advice.
In most cases, dog vomiting is caused by dietary indiscretion or eating too quickly. Many dogs are not fussy eaters, and will gladly take any table scraps or leftovers they find on the floor – leading to vomiting! Similarly, some dogs who eat too quickly will take in a lot of air with their food, causing them to vomit up food and sometimes foam. Other benign causes of vomiting include travel sickness, sudden dietary changes, and stress. Frequent vomiting, however, signals a more dangerous issue. Some conditions that cause repetitive vomiting include gastritis, bloat, worm infestations, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Be sure to check in with your vet if your dog vomits for more than 24 hours, vomits constantly without breaks, is very old or very young, or vomits alongside other worrying symptoms. Such symptoms include lethargy, bloating, retching, bloody vomit, dehydration, disorientation, or collapse. Make sure to tell your vet about all of your dog’s symptoms as soon as you can. Overall, you know your pup best. If your dog shows none of these signs but you are still worried about their vomiting, rest assured that you can contact your vet to ask for advice.
Visually inspecting your dog’s vomit is not a pleasant job, but an essential one. Is it made up of food? Does it contain bile, foam, water, or blood? Are there any foreign objects in the mess, like pieces of toys or clothing? Take note of all of these findings when bringing your dog to the vet. If possible, it pays to bring any pieces of foreign object that you find with you to the vet. Your vet will then know what to look for when checking over your pup.
While vomiting is an active process, regurgitation is passive. If a dog vomits, they actively use their stomach muscles to expel their stomach contents, which are usually partly digested. You might see bile in the vomit, too. Before vomiting, many dogs start drooling and retching alongside contracting their abdomen. In contrast, regurgitation is passive, and your dog might seem to just burp up food that they just ate. Regurgitated material comes from the esophagus rather than the stomach, so none of the food will be digested, and no bile should be present.
The best way to help your dog after they vomit is to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours. After this time, you can re-introduce a bland diet that is easy for them to digest. This bland diet might be a simple meal of chicken and rice, or ground beef and sweet potato. Whichever meal you choose, it’s important that nothing else is added to it, and that there are no bones or skin that your dog could choke on.
Dogs eating vomit is a natural but offputting behavior. Luckily, in most cases, dogs eating vomit is not harmful. It becomes harmful when your dog has eaten something harmful to them.