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Vomiting vs Regurgitation: What’s the Difference, and Why is My Dog Doing it?

Often when people are talking about their pet throwing up, they use the terms ‘vomiting’ and ‘regurgitation’ interchangeably, but did you know that these two are different?

Regurgitation refers to the passive expulsion of food, fluid, or other material from the throat or esophagus

While vomiting refers to an active expulsion of ingested material from the stomach and (sometimes) small intestines.

Now that you know what each term refers to, let’s talk about why your pet may be doing either.

Why is my dog regurgitating?

The most common reasons why I see pets regurgitating food in the animal clinic include:

  • Eating too much
  • Eating too fast
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal Foreign Body
  • Megasophagus

The last 2 can be serious issues, so proper work up of chronic regurgitation with x-rays is important in certain cases.

You can usually tell when your dog has regurgitated food rather than vomiting it. Regurgitated food, disgusting as it may be, will essentially look the same as it did before your dog ate it. It will probably be slick with saliva, but it will basically be intact. 

Clinical Sign

Regurgitation

Vomiting

Nausea or salivation

No

Common

 Retching

 No

 Common

 Presence of bile

 No

 +/–

 Cervical esophageal distention

 +/–

 No

 Amount of material

 Any

 Any

 Time after eating

 Variable

 Variable

Vomited food, by contrast, will be mushier and will probably contain some gastric juices like bile. Vomit may also be colored differently than Fido's food, taking on a yellow hue in many cases. And while regurgitated food will smell like, well, normal dog food, vomit will have a particularly foul and somewhat sour odor. So:

Why is my dog vomiting?

There literally tons reasons why dogs could be vomiting, a few of these that I often see in the animal hospital include, but are not limited to:

  • Indigestion/Upset Stomach
  • Inflammation of the Digestive Tract (ie. Gastroenteritis, Pancreatitis, etc…)
  • Underlying Organ Dysfunction/Disease (ie. Kidney failure, liver disease, etc…)
  • Gastrointestinal Foreign Body
  • Intestinal Parasites 
  • Poisoning
  • Food Allergies

As you can see, there a ton of possible reasons for your dog vomiting, and it’s entirely possible that your dog is just dealing with some indigestion. So, what should you do if you pet is vomiting or regurgitating?

If your dog regurgitates or vomits once and doesn't continue to expel food, I recommend to just monitor them for a few hours to a day. If no further vomiting or regurgitation occurs and they seem fine, it was probably just an isolated incident, maybe from indigestion or digestive upset from something they picked up from the floor or table scraps. After a few hours, I like to give just a little bit of water and a handful of their kibble and add Famotidine (Pecid) 1mg/lb and Probiotics (I prefer Wellnergy Pets Probiotics with Hydrolyzed Duck) to the diet as this can be soothing for your dog's digestive tract for mild cases like this and help with recovery.

If the vomiting or regurgitation continues, or if you start seeing your pet develop lethargy and diarrhea, it's time to call the vet and see what underlying issues may be causing your pet’s vomiting and regurgitation issues..

In the long run, because pet’s tend to run into all sorts digestive issues, due to their natural curiosity and propensity to pick things off the floor, it’s important to do your part to maintaining your pet’s digestive health by giving them a probiotic supplement. This helps to promote a thriving microbiome in the intestines, which can help avoid upset stomach and associated regurgitation or vomiting. Look for probiotics for dogs and cats that have been recommended by a veterinarian, as not all probiotics for dogs and cats are created equally. Most veterinarians will have chosen their preferred probiotics for their quality, efficacy, and transparency. Wellnergy Pets Probiotics are a great choice, as they are made with Hydrolyzed Protein, perfect for pets with sensitive stomachs and protein allergies, also they come in a tasty soft chew, so you don’t have to deal with messy powders or nasty capsules! Get yours today below: 

 

I hope this article helped you to understand and manage your vomiting or regurgitating pet. It can be scary to see your pet retch and vomit and feel bad, so we’re happy to help guide you with these cases. As always, feel free to reach out to our team on Facebook, Instagram, email, or in the comments section below if you found this article helpful or have any questions!

 

About the Author:

Dr. Zonram Liao D.V.M.Dr. Zonram Liao D.V.M. is a Southern California native, and earned his undergraduate degree from University of California, San Diego before obtaining his veterinary degree from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is not only a firm believer in the use of supportive care supplements to improve the health and happiness of his patients, but also is a strong advocate of the benefits of preventive care medicine for his patients as well. During his free time, Dr. Liao enjoys spending his time outdoors fishing and hiking, playing basketball, watching movies, cooking, traveling, and trying new foods.

 

1 thoughts onVomiting vs Regurgitation: What’s the Difference, and Why is My Dog Doing it?

  1. avatar Renee Napoletano says:

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