If your dog throws up after drinking water, should it ever become a cause for concern?
The answer is, perhaps. Dogs vomit for several reasons, including possibly just drinking too much at once.
However, there are some instances when you may need to visit the vet, even if your dog is only vomiting water.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why a dog may vomit after drinking water, and when it may be a sign of something more serious.
The Difference Between Vomiting and Regurgitation
One thing that is important to understand is that “vomiting” and “regurgitation” are two entirely different things.
The best way to understand this difference is to analyze an infant child.
When an infant regurgitates, this is “spitting up.”
She is not throwing up per se; she simply ate too much, and her stomach is rejecting it before it even considers digesting it.
When a baby vomits, however, this is unmistakable – especially when it’s projectile!
While dogs may not be as obvious with their vomit, you can more easily understand when your dog is sick versus when he eats too much.
If your dog is regurgitating, this may not be as serious as if he is vomiting.
Either way, it’s a good idea to bring it to your vet’s attention if it happens more regularly.
When Your Dog Appears to Be Vomiting Water
Of course, if your dog is vomiting water from his own bowl, then this is much different than if he drank something outside that looks like water.
Sometimes your dog throws up with looks like water, but it’s actually something else.
And sometimes if it looks like water…it really is just water.
Here is how to know if it’s actually water or something else.
If a dog drinks too much or too quickly, this can cause him to vomit water.
There is nothing to worry about in this case, as all he did was stimulate his gag reflex.
To prevent this from happening again in the future, you can encourage him to drink slower.
You can do this by putting something like a rock in his dish that is large enough to force him to drink around it.
You can also give him smaller amounts of water at a time, or some ice cubes which will take longer to melt and therefore drink.
Of course, do not do the ice cube thing when it’s crazy-hot outside. It is more important that he hydrates himself.
When a dog vomits, many owners will resort to one of two things: it is either water or bile.
But how do you know for sure if it is bile?
Bile has color to it, either yellowish or greenish. It is stored in the gallbladder and aids in digestion.
Throwing up bile every once in a while is no big thing, but if it becomes a more frequent occurrence, definitely talk to your vet about it.
Bile and stomach acid are not the same things, which you may now realize after reading the bile section.
While the gallbladder stores bile, the stomach, of course, stores stomach acid.
You’ll know your dog vomited stomach acid because it smells incredibly strong.
Your dog is more likely to vomit stomach acid if he is sick and hasn’t eaten in a while, but his body still feels the need to purge.
Something may be stuck in or upsetting his digestive tract.
Or he could be suffering from one of a multitude of possible conditions, including but not limited to kidney failure, parasites, or a thyroid issue.
Just like with bile, if your dog vomits stomach acid once, it’s not really anything to worry about, but you should see your vet if it happens continuously.
Potential Causes of Vomiting in Dogs
Dogs can vomit for a variety of reasons, from an intestinal blockage to parasites to ingesting something he is not supposed to eat.
Your dog may throw up because he is hungry, or because they are feeling stressed out.
Dogs may also throw up if they exercise right after eating or drinking.
Here are some less-common reasons why dogs may vomit, but that are still important to know about just in case.
Kidney or Liver Disease
The job of both the kidneys and the liver is to remove toxins from the dog’s body. If they fail to do this, then the toxins they don’t filter out of the dog’s system will ultimately make him sick.
Signs of liver disease can include lethargy, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite, as well as jaundice, which you can see as yellowing of the dog’s eyes or skin.
Signs of kidney disease can include depression, weight loss, and blood in the urine.
Just like people, dogs can get ulcers too.
Dogs can get ulcers from such things as a poor diet, eating a chemical, or having a poor reaction to medication.
Other signs that you might be dealing with an ulcer include weight loss, blood in the vomit or stool, and abdominal pain, to name a few.
The main job of the pancreas is to aid in digestion and control the body’s sugar levels.
When a dog has pancreatitis, this can feel very painful.
In addition to vomiting, a dog with pancreatitis may also experience lethargy, diarrhea, a lack of appetite, and pain in the abdomen.
In more severe cases, vomiting may also be a sign of a stomach tumor.
This is why it is important you take your dog to the vet if the vomiting doesn’t clear up, or if other symptoms accompany it.
Other signs your dog may have a stomach tumor include weight loss, a decrease in or total loss of appetite, and bloody vomit.
Checking the Vomit
It may be disgusting, but it’s important to inspect your dog’s vomit to make sure there’s nothing in it that shouldn’t be there.
Some potential causes for concern that can appear in a dog’s vomit include:
- Foreign objects
If your dog did get into something he wasn’t supposed to eat, save the object, if you can, to show the vet.
Else, if the vomit is concerning, take a photo of it before you clean it up so you can present it to the vet when you bring him in.
When to Head to the Vet
Ultimately, you should treat a vomiting dog like you would a vomiting child. If it is a single instance, and he is otherwise acting fine, then you probably have nothing to worry about.
However, if his behavior is off and the vomiting continues, then a vet visit is definitely a good idea.
Behavior is everything, and you know your dog best. If he is acting “weird,” this is a red flag for sure.
See your vet ASAP if any of the following apply to your dog:
- He is a puppy (he can dehydrate or lose nutrients from vomiting in any instance) or, conversely, if he is elderly.
- He is projectile vomiting, as this can be a sign of an obstruction somewhere.
- Your dog keeps trying to vomit, but nothing comes out, as this can be a sign of a potentially fatal condition known as bloat.
- Vomits up blood, a foreign object, or anything else abnormal.
- Refuses to eat or otherwise acts sick (lethargic, diarrhea, etc.).
- He is not urinating as much, as this may be a sign of dehydration.
Of course, this list is not all-inclusive. And you should definitely bring him in if he can’t seem to hold anything down, including water.
Preventing Future Vomiting in Your Dog
If your dog has been vomiting water, do not give him more water until about two hours after he last vomited.
You may feel concerned that he will dehydrate but giving him more water may actually trigger his gag reflex and cause him to vomit again anyway.
And while we are on the topic, you should also wait two hours to give him any food as well.
When you do feed him, try something like rice, sweet potato, or skinless, boneless chicken, which may entice him to eat.
Other ways to prevent your dog from vomiting again in the future include:
- Refrain from sudden changes in his diet. If you must change his diet, do so gradually.
- Don’t give your dog table scraps, and don’t allow him to scrounge around the kitchen eating crumbs and who-knows-what-else from the floor that could make him sick.
- Keep an eye on him during walks to make sure he isn’t eating grass, discarded food, or anything else that can make him sick, like standing water.
Believe it or not, allergies can even make your dog vomit.
Dogs can become allergic to certain foods as well as certain drugs and even insect bites – just like people!
In addition to vomiting, your dog may also suffer from excessive licking, hair loss, asthma, swelling of the feet…the list goes on.
This is yet another reason to take your dog to the vet for consistent vomiting to determine the underlying cause.