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Q&A: Why did my dog vomit up her dinner?

Calie wrote in with a question: "Why did my dog vomit up her dinner?". In this short blog, we try to lay out a few reasons why dogs sometimes vomit up their dinners. 

Question from Calie and her Maltese Cross dog Ruby

"Hi Helen, I’m really enjoying learning to share what I cook with Ruby and so far it’s been super easy for me to do and I love the feeling I get seeing her excited about her meal now.

My question to you is I recently cooked salmon, cheese, and bacon filo parcels with veggies for dinner and I made a separate serve for Ruby (with less bacon, cheese, and only a small puff of canola on the filo) with Wellbeing Essentials on top.

I was really happy that Ruby ate some fish but then about an hour later she vomited the whole thing back up again on the floor. Ew! Sorry, it’s a gross question but I’m wondering if perhaps was it too rich for her? What is your advice?"

Answer: Helen from Wellbeing for Dogs

An excellent question thanks Calie, Ruby’s ‘chew and spew’ is a common problem, and not at all pretty. So what is going on? Here are a few things that may have cause her to vomit up her dinner.

# 1 Dogs' stomach are quite small

Like most things, it can be from multiple sources. First to realize is that a dog's stomach is quite small, and functions more as a ‘holding place’ before getting to the serious business of digestion in the intestines.

# 2 Dogs don't 'chew' their food

Dogs don’t ‘chew’ their food – teeth; for ‘crushing’ and saliva; for ‘lubricating’ – the system is designed more for ‘gulping’; ie getting the food down as quickly as possible (so someone else can’t get it!). The stomach then does the work of breaking it into smaller bits (with very strong acids).

# 3 It could be a 'survival strategy'

A dog vomiting up and re-eating is a bit of a survival strategy in the wild, not so much in the kitchen. It means the food is safe in ‘storage’, till it’s safe to digest later. No sitting around appreciating the gourmet experience, but when it is food they love they can get a bit excited.

My best guess is that Ruby loved this dinner, and showing her appreciation, got it in as fast as possible. I assume the regurgitation was pretty much as it went in? Undigested.

# 4 The serving may have been too large

Another point could have been that the serve was a little large for her, and she still ate it all. That is something best left for you to judge, but mostly they will eat everything if it is delicious.

What can you do to stop it happening?

Judicious use of delicious ingredients maybe an idea…

One of my favourite sayings is:

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelt as good as bacon”- Doug Larson

Use rich and delicious ingredients sparingly

Dogs and humans love bacon! Use it sparingly. All those ingredients are delicious; salmon, cheese, bacon, filo. All Yum. With dogs as with little children, maybe keep it a bit simpler. One only at a time?

And fat. Salmon has quite a lot of fat (good fat). Cheese and bacon have a fair amount of fat, none are really a problem in moderation, but it could be there was too much fat for her in one sitting.

That is difficult to judge after the event, but I assume that is what you mean by ‘too rich’; usually means too much fat. And that is as individual as the dog, some can tolerate high-fat others not at all.

Remember – fat is a luxury in the wild.

Both my dogs have a very low tolerance for fat, unfortunately, but they both love it! Consequently, they would only ever have one fat in a meal (eg: salmon, or bacon, or cheese).

Hope this helps shed some light on it. Well done for making such beautiful food with love for one lucky Ruby. As you say, it is a good feeling to watch their excitement at dinner. One that I never tire of.