These Signs of Vomiting and Regurgitation Will Help You Treat Your Dog Effectively

Do you know the signs of vomiting and regurgitation in your dog?

Each indicates different potential problems, so you need to know how to tell when he's vomiting and when he's regurgitating, gagging or hacking, or dropping food and water.

If your dog has any of these following symptoms, don't worry about whether they're signs of vomiting or regurgitation. Your dog needs immediate medical attention, so call your veterinarian or emergency animal clinic for instructions.

  • His vomit is bloody or it looks like there are coffee grounds in it (this is blood that has been worked on by stomach acids).

  • He has no appetite, he's vomiting and/or has diarrhea and you gave him one of the following analgesics in the past week: ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or Aspirin.

  • He has persistent vomiting and loss of appetite (inappetence), and has severe abdominal pain.

  • His belly or sides look swollen or bloated, he looks very uncomfortable or in pain, or he is retching.

  • You think he has eaten something that has become stuck in his digestive system. Cloth, rope and string are especially dangerous.

  • If he is diabetic, has cancer or kidney disease, or is taking digoxin or digitoxin for a heart condition, he will need special treatment from the vet for his vomiting.

  • His temperature is 103°F (39.5°C) or higher. See Vital Signs for information on how to take his temperature.


There are several signs of vomiting. The telltale sign of vomiting is heaving of the belly muscles. This heaving is very noticeable if you happen to be nearby.

Another sign is drooling, along with retching or gulping. The drooling occurs before the vomiting, and is considered a sign of nausea.

A sign of vomiting I sometimes noticed from my dog was a low-pitched sound. This sound reminded me of a can half full of water, being moved end over end.

I was often able to get Dancer (my dog) outside or to a vinyl or concrete floor before his vomiting began when I was alerted by this gurgling sound.


Have you ever had some stomach distress, burped and had a bit of food come back up?

That's regurgitation. Your dog may also regurgitate solids and liquids from time to time.

You may miss the key sign, as it happens quickly. The food or liquid comes back up and "blurps" out. There is usually little or no effort involved, and you won't see his belly heaving.

You may also notice gagging or coughing as the matter moves back up.

Gagging and Hacking

Gagging and hacking are more likely a cough than a sign of vomiting. His chest — but not his belly — may move a fair bit as he hacks up mucus, fluids or foamy material (liquid with a lot of small air bubbles).

Dropping Food and Water

Your dog may be dropping food or water, or continually trying to swallow. While the signs are easy to distinguish from those of vomiting, the difference between them and regurgitation isn't as easy to detect.

If he eats dry food, the dropped food will often be whole pieces, or chunks, of kibble. Regurgitated food is more likely to be chewed up kibble.

Signs and Their Meaning

It's important for your dog's health that you know the signs of vomiting, regurgitation, gagging and hacking, and dropping food and water. Each of them is an indicator of different problems or diseases.

Each could happen as a "one-off" event (for example, if he's been eating grass, vomiting may occur).

However, if it recurs on a regular basis (every time he eats, every time he drinks, or as soon as he wakes up), the problem is more serious. Consult your veterinarian.

Use the appropriate word to describe to her what your dog is doing.

For example, if he's not displaying the signs of vomiting discussed above, don't tell the vet that your dog vomited. A correct description will help the vet make a quick and correct diagnosis.

These signs of vomiting, regurgitation, coughing and hacking, and dropping food and water will help your vet pinpoint your dog's problem faster. Your accurate description of your dog's actions could help save his life.

For more information about vomiting, check out these three pages.

Causes of Vomiting discusses what may be causing your dog's vomiting and related problems.

How To Induce Vomiting will show you how to make your dog vomit if he's swallowed ethylene glycol or other non-caustic poisons.

Dog First Aid for Vomiting provides information on how to treat your dog's vomiting.

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