My pointer mix vomits once or twice a month, but doesn’t otherwise appear sick. Is this normal?
While it may be considered normal for dogs to vomit occasionally, it is always best to address the vomiting and look for an underlying cause, especially if it recurs chronically. Start by looking at your dog’s routine. Is the vomiting happening after a specific food or medication is given? Or, does it occur after a particular activity? If so, you may consider making some changes. Either way, a visit to your veterinarian should be scheduled.
Potential causes for chronic vomiting include gastritis, gastric ulcers, partial GI obstruction (blockage), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious disease, cancer, allergies, and pancreatic, kidney or liver disease. Your veterinarian will begin by discussing your dog’s history with you, followed by a thorough examination of your dog. Your vet may feel that the vomiting is of no concern and advise you to keep an eye on your dog. Alternatively, further diagnostic testing may be recommended. This will most likely begin with the following lab work: a chemistry panel (to assess organ function), a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. The results may indicate the need for more specialized blood tests such as liver or gastrointestinal function testing.
Next in line is diagnostic imaging. Abdominal radiographs (x-ray) will be performed to search for visible abnormalities. In some cases, an abdominal ultrasound may be recommended to get a closer, more detailed look. If a cause for the vomiting is identified, the appropriate treatment will be prescribed. However, you and your vet might discuss treating symptomatically if no diagnosis is reached. In some cases, a diet change may be warranted.
If chronic vomiting continues, becomes worse, or if other symptoms develop, your vet might recommend advanced diagnostics. In severe cases this can include endoscopy with GI biopsies. Referral to a veterinary specialist may be part of this process.
Regardless of the outcome, it is important that you keep track of your dog’s vomiting, appetite, and attitude. Keep a record of any vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy or any other signs of illness. Report changes to your veterinarian so that medication can be adjusted or additional testing can be discussed.