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Welcoming a puppy into your home brings equal parts joy and responsibility. One moment you’re thinking, “This is the happiest day of my life,” and the next, you’re exclaiming, “My puppy is throwing up! What do I do?” First, take a breath and remember this can be a common occurrence and doesn’t always mean something horrible is wrong. 

Every puppy parent has a vomiting story. Often, there is a reasonable explanation behind puppy vomiting—such as trying new foods or having a sensitive digestive system. If it is an isolated incident and your puppy is otherwise acting normal, it is not usually cause for worry. However, if you notice more serious signs—such as frequent or bloody vomiting—you may want to consult your veterinarian.

While vomiting in puppies is not always a major concern, it can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Keep reading to learn all about dog vomit and how to keep your puppy healthy. You can also take a look at our guide to Understanding Your Pet’s Vomit.

Common causes of a puppy throwing up

If you’re like most pet parents, you probably have a lot of questions about your puppy puking—like why is it happening in the first place? Here are some of the reasons why pups throw up:

  • Changing their food too quickly
  • Giving them people food 
  • Infectious disease, such as parvo
  • Gastrointestinal issues 
  • Eating too fast (usually results in regurgitation, not vomiting)
  • Food sensitivities, intolerances or allergies 
  • Response to stress or anxiety 
  • Consuming something toxic 
  • Parasites like roundworms and Giardia 
  • Stomach bloating 
  • Hyperthermia 
  • Metabolic disorders 
  • Infection 
  • Anatomical abnormalities  
  • Intestinal blockage

The potential reasons for a puppy to vomit range from harmless to life-threatening, and it’s vital to know when to seek help from your veterinarian. In the event your puppy appears very sick or has swallowed something they absolutely shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian immediately. Don’t wait, as this could be a medical emergency.

When puppy vomiting becomes a concern

While an isolated incident of vomiting may not be cause for immediate concern for dogs of all ages, more frequent vomiting is a sign that your puppy needs a trip to your vet. If you notice your puppy throwing up blood, they experience vomiting and diarrhea at the same time, they’re losing weight, they don’t want to eat or they’re in visible pain, these are also signs that you should take your dog to the vet. There are likely more severe health issues at work. 

Age is also an important consideration because a new puppy throwing up can have a weak immune system, and this puts puppies six months and younger at a higher risk of dehydration. Vomiting in puppies is a larger concern because they’re young and don’t have the reserves that older dogs do. Puppies can get dehydrated very quickly. Parvovirus infection causes vomiting, which can be deadly for puppies if untreated. If you haven’t already, add parvovirus immunizations to your New Dog and Puppy Checklist.  

If you suspect your puppy has a more significant case of vomiting, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. For pet parents looking for quality care, learn more about Petco Veterinary Services and find a hospital near you.

Veterinary treatments 

How to treat a vomiting puppy depends on the root cause behind the vomiting. Always follow your veterinarian’s recommended treatment plan.

When calling or taking your puppy in for treatment, be prepared to answer a set of important questions from your veterinarian. They will want a detailed description of everything your puppy has or may have eaten, a timeline of their behavior and how symptoms have emerged, as well as a description of their stool and vomit. Taking a picture can sometimes be helpful for your veterinarian, too. The more you can share with your vet, the better.

They may prescribe medications such as antiemetics, antibiotics, probiotics or steroids to treat certain conditions. Other times, a bland diet or short-term fasting may help. While rare, surgery may be necessary. Surgery is used to remove masses, devitalized intestines or foreign objects from the gastrointestinal tract. Your veterinarian may also want to do bloodwork, run fecal examinations or take X-rays to evaluate your puppy. These tests are often needed to determine the cause of vomiting in puppies.

Pet prescriptions available to order at Petco

Caring for a vomiting puppy at home

If your puppy appears fine after vomiting once, you are probably good to monitor. But if the situation is more concerning, your veterinarian may advise you to adjust your puppy’s eating habits. Your vet may advise you to avoid feeding them anything for an hour to let their stomach calm down; only withhold water if advised to do so by your vet. A bland diet of skinless, boiled chicken with plain white rice can sometimes help. Be sure to exclude any butter, oils and seasonings. If your puppy regurgitates after eating too fast, you may need to feed smaller portions or use a slow-feeder bowl. Regurgitation is different from vomiting. We will get into the difference in just a bit.
Your veterinarian will also want to know what food you feed your puppy. If your veterinarian suspects the vomiting is due to a food allergy or sensitivity or upset stomach, they may recommend switching to a new food. You might even ask for advice on what to feed a dog with a sensitive stomach. Sometimes, limited-ingredient or sensitive stomach dog foods can ease gastrointestinal issues.  
When transitioning to a new food, mix a small amount into the old food. Gradually increase the ratio daily so that your puppy is completely transitioned to the new food over 7–10 days. 

How regurgitation differs from vomiting 

One condition that is often mistaken for vomiting is regurgitation. Regurgitation happens when food in a puppy’s stomach moves up the esophagus into the mouth. Sometimes, puppies are born with megaesophagus, a chronic condition that leads to regurgitation. It can also be caused by cancer, foreign objects, rabies, anxiety and poisoning. Regurgitation is a sign that something is preventing food from quickly exiting the esophagus to enter the stomach. 
To diagnose regurgitation, veterinarians often use the puppy’s health history, a physical exam, chest X-ray and laboratory tests. Treatments depend on the underlying cause. In instances where the cause is not curable, ongoing medications may be necessary. Dietary changes are also a common cause. 

Why is my puppy throwing up their food? 

If your puppy puked up food, they might be eating too fast and regurgitating. Slow-feeder bowls, smaller portions and feeding multiple dogs in separate areas can sometimes help resolve this. If your puppy is weak, seems to be in pain or their vomit is discolored—such as red, brown or black—there is a deeper cause for concern. Consult your veterinarian, who can more definitively tell you whether your puppy’s vomiting or regurgitation is something to worry about.

Why is my puppy throwing up yellow?

If your puppy is throwing up yellow, you are likely seeing bile, the digestive fluids produced by the liver. Underlying causes of throwing up bile include hunger from going too long between feedings, ulcers, inflammatory diseases, infections and cancers. Dogs and puppies may throw up yellow overnight or first thing in the morning. This typically happens when they’re on an empty stomach and need something to eat. If it’s happening overnight, consider splitting their meals into more feedings throughout the day, including a meal later in the evening before bed. A veterinarian consultation is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment.