Dog Throwing Up Undigested Food: Should I be Concerned?

Jun 29, 2023

It’s like your dog didn’t even bother to chew or digest, and instead gave you a nice dose of that super expensive food right back at you as he is vomiting undigested food.

It’s gross. It’s frustrating.
It’s messy.
Your pet hates it too.

But if you’re wondering “Why is my dog throwing up undigested food?” the first thing to know is that he’s not ‘throwing up undigested food’ but instead, likely regurgitating food. There is definitely a difference and something you can do about it!

What is dog’s regurgitation? Is it the same thing as my dog throwing up undigested food?

Looks like somebody’s been reading up on dog gut health because you’re asking the right questions. Canine vomiting is when your dog throws up food or liquid from his upper small intestine or stomach. You hear that distinct “Gluck, gluck, gluck” sound (usually at 3 am) and you know he’s about to have a vomiting episode.

But canine regurgitation…that’s a different story and all dog owners should know that. It seems like it’s your doggy throwing up partially digested food, but it’s not really them ‘throwing up’ anything because what comes up out of your dog’s mouth isn’t like vomit, so to speak. You won’t hear that retching sound because what’s coming back up (technical term: regurgitant) is not being propelled by his stomach or intestines but instead, coming from his esophagus or pharynx. Typically, the esophagus is what brings normal dog food and liquid into the stomach and then the rest of the digestive tract, but if food doesn’t make it there, it’s not really too deep into the digestive process (which starts with the first bite) and therefore still maintains much of the look and feel of undigested food. It’s your dog’s esophageal muscles that bring the vomited food back out of his mouth, not the dog’s stomach muscles that contract and propel it out of his stomach (as vomit). Plus, you can usually tell it’s regurgitated food simply because you can still see it.

Your pup likely has NO warning that it’s coming (nor do you) and can actually be dangerous in that often, his larynx doesn’t have time to close and that allows some of the regurgitated food to go into his lungs. This can lead to aspiration pneumonia, so you definitely want to address canine regurgitation. You’d better take your furry friend to a veterinarian immediately especially if he also has other symptoms. A physical exam and some blood tests will probably be necessary for the vet to make an accurate diagnosis and identify if your pet has some serious problems (Addison’s disease, viral infections, digestive upset, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal parasites etc).

How do I know if my dog vomited or if my dog regurgitated?

It’s actually pretty easy to tell the difference, usually. Again, you’ll probably NOT hear that tell-tale noise from your pet indicating you better get him outside (and FAST or your carpet’s about to see a pile of vomit) and it’ll seemingly come out of nowhere. It looks like your furry friend threw up undigested food, whereas if your dog vomits, it’ll be mushier, and probably have some bile and other gastric juices mixed in to give it some color (typically yellow). Regurgitated dog food typically still smells like…well, dog food, while dog vomit smells like…well, human vomit–sour and sort of foul. Read more about dog regurgitation vs. vomiting differences.

What’s up with my dog’s digestive tract? Why is my dog vomiting undigested food?

If you’re a dog owner and you’re asking “Why is my dog throwing up partially digested food,” there are a few general answers. Most often? Your pup is a chowhound and wolfs his meals down way too quickly. This can lead to not just canine regurgitation, but him ending up with bloat and that can be super dangerous. You want to get that pupper to slow the heck down! Special feeders, snuffle mats and even smaller portions more often can help if your dog swallowed food too quickly.

Speaking of chowhounds…if your dog eats too much (especially if too quickly) his body may simply say, “Thanks. We’re done.” and give it back up. It’s kind of a simple concept–too many treats, not enough space…something’s gotta give.

Sometimes your dog may have an issue called Megaesophagus. This is when his esophagus dilates and that makes it harder from food to get into his stomach as it should. And, again understanding that space is a premium in a pup’s digestive system, if it can’t make it to the stomach, it’ll just go back out the way it came in, despite how much your dog eats.

Additionally, your puppy may be throwing up because of esophageal disease and you’ll want your vet to take a look especially if there are other signs your dog’s health is deteriorating (he has abdominal pain, motion sickness, weak muscles etc).

Something else that’s very common in dogs could be food allergies or intolerances. Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to certain food items. Common allergens include wheat, dairy, beef, and chicken. If your dog is allergic to any component of their diet, it could trigger an immune response, causing gastrointestinal upset and vomiting of undigested food. In such cases, an elimination diet, guided by your vet, can be helpful in pinpointing the allergen.

Another possible culprit is an infestation of intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, or whipworms. These parasites can cause a multitude of problems including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and poor overall condition. Regular fecal examinations by your vet are important for early detection and treatment of these parasites.

Viral infections such as parvovirus and coronavirus are serious conditions that can cause a dog to vomit undigested food. These viruses attack the gastrointestinal tract, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Vaccinating your dog to protect them against these deadly viruses can make a difference.

Underlying diseases can also lead to your dog throwing up. Kidney disease or kidney failure can cause vomiting as the body struggles to eliminate waste products. Similarly, serious conditions like cancer or stomach ulcers might lead to recurrent vomiting. If your dog throwing up is a consistent occurence, especially if accompanied by other concerning signs, a vet consultation is definitely warranted.

Ingestion of poisons or toxins is another serious cause of vomiting. Dogs are naturally curious and might ingest harmful substances like rat poison, antifreeze, pesticides, or even common household drugs like acetaminophen and aspirin. These can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and other life-threatening symptoms. If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic substance, it’s critical to get to the vet immediately.

Other less severe but equally disruptive causes could be motion sickness, stress, excessive excitement, or anxiety. Some dogs can get nauseous during car rides, leading to vomiting. Others might vomit when they are extremely excited or anxious. Learning to recognize and manage these triggers can help reduce episodes of vomiting.

Remember, while occasional vomiting might just be a minor upset, repeated or severe vomiting, especially if accompanied by other signs of illness, warrants an immediate visit to the vet. Only a qualified veterinarian can accurately diagnose and treat the root cause of your dog’s symptoms.

a sweet dog is about to throw up undigested food


If my dog is throwing up undigested food should I be concerned?

You should be concerned if your dog’s vomiting is persistent or chronic, meaning it’s happening frequently or several times a day. Even if they seem okay otherwise, continuous vomiting can lead to dehydration and other serious health problems. So, if your doggo has been throwing up more than just once or twice in a short period, it’s time to give the vet a call.

Another red flag is if your pup’s vomit contains blood, which may look like coffee grounds, or if they’re also having bloody diarrhea. These symptoms can indicate a serious condition like a gastric ulcer or a swallowed foreign object. If you notice any blood in your dog’s vomit or stool, get them to the vet immediately.

If your dog is vomiting and is also showing other signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, or changes in behavior, these could be signs of an underlying disease. Even subtle changes, like your dog not being their usual playful self or not showing interest in their favorite treats, should not be ignored.

Finally, if your dog’s belly appears bloated or swollen, and they’re trying to vomit but nothing is coming up, this could be a sign of a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus, or “bloat.” This condition requires immediate veterinary attention.

Remember, you know your dog better than anyone. If your gut feeling tells you something is off, it’s always better to be safe and consult with a vet. Your furry pal depends on you to keep them healthy and happy, and it’s always worth the peace of mind knowing they’re okay.

So what is going on with dog regurgitation?

For many dogs, though, regurgitation is not uncommon and typically happens because they’re eating too quickly or too much or not even swallowing properly. If you want to limit or stop the episodes of your dog throwing up undigested food, you’ll want to take a few easy steps.

First, if your dog regurgitates, make sure he’s getting healthy food and as we suggested, make sure he doesn’t eat it too fast. This will be a huge step in the right direction.

Next, ensure your dog eating Bernie’s Perfect Poop with every meal is your routine. Yes, the perfect poop starts with the first bite, and that’s where regurgitation also starts.

The premium fiber in Bernie’s Perfect Poop is the best way to ensure that your pup’s food begins its path to digestion the right way–soluble and insoluble fibers move food through at just the right speed and help to battle the negative effects of too-fast-eating. The pre- and probiotics in Perfect Poop help your doggy’s gut thrive–meaning the stomach acids are balanced and ready for food to come and be digested.

A healthy gut ensures that there’s no reason for your dog’s food to go anywhere but through the dog’s digestive tract and at just the right speed for maximum nutrient absorption.

And the digestive enzymes in Perfect Poop start their magic the second your dog takes his first bite! They’re additional and beneficial help to begin the digestive process, and to help food go through the digestive system broken down efficiently for optimal nutrition.

All of these ingredients work together in two delicious formulas and help keep dog regurgitation a non-issue because a dog’s good gut health is the first and most important step!

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