Every dog loses his lunch from time to time. Find out to know whether your pup needs to lay off the table scraps or if you need to call the vet.

Nothing in life prepares you for the barf. Not the parenting magazines, not the new puppy classes, nothing and nobody can make dog puke on your sofa any less disgusting. But after you manage to clean up the mess, you’re left with the most important pet parenting role of all: keeping your dog healthy. Every dog loses his lunch from time to time. It’s your job to know whether to lay off the table scraps or call the vet. Drs. Foster & Smith’s Peteducation.com site can help. Follow along for retching details from their primer on “Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment of Vomiting in Dogs.”

Know Thy Spew

As it turns out, vomit and regurgitation are two totally different things (It’s riveting, we know). In fact, vomit comes straight up from the stomach and through the mouth before landing on your fine furnishings. Regurgitation, though equally yucky, starts it’s course from the dog’s mouth or esophagus and does not involve the forceful stomach contractions that go along with vomiting.

Vet Up and Go

We don’t have to tell you, dogs eat all kinds of things and sometimes throw them up. It’s usually no big deal if your dog seems alert after hurling some grass for instance. But if you notice blood in the vomit, or your dog tries to throw up but can’t, it’s definitely time to call the vet. Be prepared to explain when the vomiting started, how often it occurs and what it looks like. Share all the lovely details on color, contents, anything worth noting. Your vet may also want to know if your dog seems sick, in pain or uncomfortable, or appears bloated around the belly. It’s especially important to see the vet if you suspect that your best friend has eaten something toxic, or you notice diarrhea, fever or yellowing of the gums.

Cause & Eject

There are so many reasons why dogs vomit, let us count the ways. From hookworms and other intestinal parasites to bloat, ulcers or medication reactions, each cause requires different diagnostic tests and treatments to help your dog recover. That’s why it’s just not safe to medicate your pup on your own. It’s best to talk to your vet first to get to the root cause of the vomiting.

The Scoop:

For more information, visit the Drs. Foster & Smith Pet Education site. Their useful article includes a reference chart listing reasons why dogs vomit, symptoms to watch for, plus the diagnosis and treatment your vet will likely offer.

Originally published June 2010; reviewed and updated June 2016.