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Published: Nov 30, 2012

Dogs are lovable, but sometimes they can exhibit disgusting behavior. Dog vomiting is not uncommon, and it may or may not be the sign of a illness. Since it may indicate something more serious, pet owners must be vigilant and know a bit more about this admittedly gross occurrence.

The difference between vomiting and regurgitation
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, pet owners must know how to differentiate between vomiting and regurgitation. Vomiting involves the forceful contraction of the stomach muscles, and typically results in a dog producing yellow or greenish fluid, froth or food. Often dogs who are vomiting will feel nauseated and an owner may notice they lick their lips, salivate excessively or swallow repeatedly.  The effort of vomiting may cause pain in dogs, and if so, it should prompt a visit to the vet.

Regurgitation, on the other hand, will result in the return of food or other matter without any abdominal contractions. This will commonly happen shortly after a dog has been eating or drinking, and the regurgitated material will often be tubular and may even take on the shape of a sausage. Since they are typically not nauseated or feeling sick, many dogs will attempt to re-eat what they've regurgitated, a habit which should be discouraged.

When to be concerned
Not all vomiting or regurgitation is an indication of a serious illness. It may be that your dog ate something that has disagreed with his stomach, and he needs to purge himself of the matter. Sometimes, you may not be able to determine the cause of the vomiting, but the canine's health will improve immediately or soon after, and medical attention is not necessary.

If your dog vomits multiple times in a short period or continues to vomit on and off for more than 24 hours, you should bring him to the vet's office immediately. Additionally, if you notice any symptoms like loss of appetite, diarrhea in dogs, lethargy, abdominal pain, fever or dehydration, it's best to seek medical attention, VCA reports.

What causes vomiting?
There are a number of reasons why vomiting occurs. If the cause is an upset stomach, this may because the dog ate garbage, table scraps, food that has gone bad or something that tasted gross - like an insect. More serious causes should be determined by a vet, who may run a variety of tests, such as radiographs or blood and urine tests, to determine if there's a more serious issue. The treatment for your dog's vomiting problem will depend on the cause, but could include anything from dietary changes to medication to exploratory surgery.