Pet food isn't very appealing (to humans, that is) even when it is fresh from the store. It is a lot less appealing when it reappears on the carpet.

For dogs in particular, who often love nothing better than a snack from the garbage can, vomiting may be nothing more than a bad restaurant review. The combination of rancid food and overindulgence can empty their stomachs in a hurry, says Joanne Hibbs, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Powell, Tennessee.

Dogs have another unappetizing trait. They will occasionally greet the day by bringing up a little yellow liquid. This "bilious vomiting" is caused by going all night without food and getting an upset stomach. It isn't serious; once your dog throws up, he will feel just fine again, says Dr. Hibbs.

Cats aren't prone to this kind of vomiting, and they are a lot less likely than dogs to raid the trash. They do, however, spend hours grooming themselves, swallowing a lot of hair in the process. When the hair doesn't pass through the digestive tract, it irritates the stomach and comes back up.

Ulcers and bacterial infections can also cause dogs and cats to vomit. You should suspect that your pet has an ulcer when the vomit looks black and grainy, like used coffee grounds. This is a sign that your pet is throwing up digested blood, and he needs to see a vet, says Dr. Hibbs.

Vomiting can also be caused by more-serious conditions like cancer, infections, or problems with the liver or pancreas, says Dr. Hibbs. Vomiting is a common symptom of poisoning as well. If your pet vomits time after time or if he seems dizzy or disoriented, call your vet right away.

See Your Vet If...

  • Vomiting occurs first thing in the morning
  • Your cat does a lot of grooming
  • Pushing on your pet's belly causes her pain
  • Your dog or cat hasn't eaten for 24 hours or more
  • Her abdomen appears bloated
  • She has eaten rodent poison, antifreeze, houseplants, or other harmful substances
  • Your pet has been vomiting for more than a day or is vomiting blood
  • There are worms or other parasites in the stool
  • She has had diarrhea for 24 hours or more
  • There is blood in the stool or it looks dark and tarry
  • She is scooting across the floor, or the anal area looks swollen
  • Your pet has gained or lost substantial amounts of weight
  • She is having side effects from medication, like appetite loss or vomiting
  • There are growths in the anal area
  • There is a bulge in her throat
  • She is drooling much more than usual
  • Your pet vomits shortly after eating

Next Steps:

Back to Digestive System Main Page
Back to the Symptom Solver Main Page

Copyright 1999 Rodale Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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