If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you have just witnessed the repulsive act of your dog consuming their own vomit. To us humans, such behaviour may be shocking, but rest assured: for dogs, this is a completely natural instinct that originates from their wild ancestors.
In the wild, mother dogs feed their pups by regurgitating partially digested food. Regurgitation is the passive act of passing out partially digested food from the esophagus. It usually happens quickly, with little to no change in the dog’s behaviour and without warning. Because of this maternal act of nature, dogs don’t think twice when they see a puddle of vomit on the floor. To them, this puddle smells like tasty food that they can gobble up, and it is perfectly safe for them to do so (plus it saves you some cleaning time).
However, chronic regurgitation may be a sign of esophageal disorder, so make sure to keep a lookout for this. Vomiting, on the other hand, is quite distinct from regurgitation. It is usually preceded by some pacing around, drooling, stomach-growling, and a hunched posture. You should also be able to hear some retching sounds and abdominal heaving when your dog vomits. The contents of vomit are ejected from the stomach or upper intestine, and are sometimes accompanied by yellow bile. Food that is mostly digested would probably be unappetising to your dog, and you might catch them getting a whiff of it before walking off.
If your dog is sick, they probably won’t be interested in their own vomit, even if the food is mostly intact. If you notice this happening, it would be a good idea to monitor their behaviour. A one-time incident is probably nothing to worry about, but if your dog throws up multiple times, especially after meals, you should consider a trip to the vet.
Vomiting can be a symptom of various issues: minor triggers include motion sickness or the consumption of something disagreeable, while more serious causes can range from parasites to liver or kidney disease. In cases of repeated vomiting, it is better to be safe than sorry.
If your dog only vomits once or twice (without re-eating the contents), you can avoid an immediate trip to the vet and do these steps instead:
1. Take away all food and water for the next six to eight hours
2. If there is no further vomiting, let them lap up a small amount of water
3. If they manage to hold down the water, you may gradually increase the quantity of water given
4. If there is still no further vomiting after twelve hours of drinking, you may let your dog have some boiled chicken (no bones and skin) and white rice.
5. Assuming there are no further incidents, gradually increase the portions over the next day and start mixing it with their regular food.
So the next time your dog attempts to clean up after itself, let it do so. It’s nature’s way of cleaning up the mess— so you don’t have to!
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