Regurgitating vs Vomiting
Regurgitating is very different from vomiting. When a pet vomits, the contents coming out are from the stomach and sometimes from the beginning of the small intestine as well. Regurgitated contents are from the esophagus or pharynx.
Regurgitation can be caused by several reasons but most of the time it’s harmless. Dogs regurgitate their food if they are having trouble swallowing it or they wolfed it down too quickly. They simply bring it back up, and eat it again! Mother dogs and wolves will sometimes do this on purpose for their pups to eat. It may seem gross to us, but to dogs, it’s delicious and nutritious mush that’s easy to eat! Sometimes dogs eat grass to aid in their own digestion and to regurgitate on purpose. Regurgitated food will look more or less like what they were just eating before the event and some may have a tube shape due to it having formed the shape from being in their esophagus.
Vomit would look more digested and often you can find bile in the mixture. Also with vomiting, you will often see your dog heaving beforehand and/or licking their lips. Vomiting is also more often tied with the diet. Food sensitivities, allergies, toxins, or foreign bodies can cause vomiting whereas regurgitation is more related to physical blockages at the pharynx or esophagus.
If it’s just harmless regurgitation, you can take some steps to have it happen less frequently:
- Serve in smaller portions – Large portions may allow your dog or cat to chow down very quickly for too long, and have it get stuck somewhere along the way resulting in regurgitation.
- Put a ball or other safe object in the food bowl – This can help slow down the eating and lessen the amount of food they munch on each bite.
- Elevate the food bowl – Sometimes dogs and cats have an easier time eating when the food bowl is elevated. We recommend you try the other methods first though, as this may not be true for all dogs.
- Change the consistency – If you prepare your own pet food or have the means to change the consistency by grinding or adding other foods, try this method. Sometimes dogs eat much faster than they should if the food is too fine (or mushy) or if the food is too coarse, it can get stuck more easily. Play around with the consistency until you believe you’ve found the right amount. Adding water to make their food soupy works too!
Should I be worried?
We certainly don’t think that you should rush your dog or cat to pet emergency at the first regurgitation, but there are some medical conditions that cause frequent regurgitation. If this is the case, we recommend you consult a veterinarian. A list of examples below list other illnesses that can have frequent regurgitation as a symptom.
- Megaesophagus – This condition can be congenital in puppies or contracted in adult dogs. If congenital, the muscles of the esophagus is to weak to push the food down to the stomach. Another cause is from having a foreign body is stuck in the esophagus for too long, the esophagus is enlarged and starts to act as a storage organ (To avoid this, we recommend not feeding raw hide treats, smoked bones, or Nylabones). This condition is accompanied by frequent regurgitation, loss of weight, and aspiration pneumonia. To check whether your dog has megaesophagus, lift him or her on hind legs and look down the neck to see and feel whether there are any abnormal bulges.
- Inflammation of the esophagus – Possible from physical injury or swallowing sharp objects such as cooked bone fragments, etc.
- Addison’s Disease – A condition where the adrenal glands have exhausted and are not producing enough of a stress hormone called cortisol.
If you would like to talk to us about your dog or cat in regards to any health problems they may have, please don’t hesitate to contact us by email or phone, or visit us in store!
-The True Carnivores Pack