One thing you can count on when you invite a dog into your home and life is that you will spend a lot of time cleaning up after them. Like children, dogs are messy. They knock things over. They sometimes throw up on the furniture or floor. Sometimes they throw up a lot!
Most of the time, it's not a serious issue, but dog owners should know what's normal and when to call the vet. Let's look at some of the reasons that your dog might throw up water, starting with the least serious ones.
They Drink Too Much Too Fast
A dog that's been playing hard will sometimes empty the water bowl as fast as it can. Much like a human athlete, drinking a lot of cold water after vigorous activity can be a really bad idea!
Cold water on an overheated stomach will cause vomiting more often than not. Luckily, it's easy to figure this one out. The vomit will be clear, and the water bowl will be empty. And the dog won't look or act sick. No doubt it will go right back to the bowl when you refill it!
To slow a dog down, try only filling the water bowl with a small amount of water after playtime. Or give him an ice cube to lick if you are worried that he is too hot. Slow is good, and you can give more water when the pup is ready for it. It's still important to keep animals hydrated, just not too quickly when they are overheated.
They Have an Upset Stomach
It may be that your dog has eaten something it shouldn't have. Sometimes a dog will eat grass to relieve the tummy upset. Drinking a lot of water will help the dog vomit, too. In this instance, you might see undigested food as well as water, and you should allow your pet time for its tummy to settle before feeding it again. A bland diet for a meal or two should set everything right. If it doesn't, then you should consult your vet.
An inflamed stomach is a more serious matter. If your dog is gulping down lots of water but acts like it is in pain, won't eat, and/or runs a fever, you should take the dog in for a checkup. Again, it's a treatable condition, so see your vet.
Sometimes dogs will eat things that cannot be digested. When the stomach is blocked by something like a sock or stick, the dog may try to vomit it up by drinking lots of water. Your vet may do an x-ray if this is suspected, and surgery may be required to remove the obstruction.
They Have a Parasite Load
Dogs get a number of parasites that can upset their stomachs. Puppies, especially, are prone to having intestinal worms. Dogs that have been living feral for a while, or those that are poorly bred and badly cared for may have them as well. Your veterinarian will identify the type of parasite and treat accordingly.
You might see the actual worms in the vomit or in the dog's stool. If you can take a sample in it makes the diagnosis quick.
There are some nasty protozoa like Giardia that live in streams and rivers, too. Sometimes called "beaver fever," humans and dogs can catch it by drinking from untreated water sources. It's a treatable condition, but has unpleasant symptoms, one of which could be vomiting. Tell your vet if you've taken your dog on a hike and suspect this is the problem. Prompt treatment will take care of the matter quickly, but it's not something that you can take care of without a prescription.
They Have Heat Exhaustion
In hot weather, dogs can become overheated pretty quickly. Vomiting water after drinking a lot of it in an attempt to cool down is pretty common. Dogs should be monitored in the heat. Move the dog to the shade, or under a fan or air conditioner, and offer small amounts of cool water. But be ready to rush to the vet in case the dog does not start to recover quickly!
Short nosed breeds like Bulldogs and Boston Terriers have trouble in the heat. But any dog that is panting heavily or that appears to be sick needs to be evaluated by a professional.
They've Gotten Into Bad Water
Dogs will drink from the nastiest puddles and never even notice. It's just a fact of canine life that they don't discriminate when they are hungry or thirsty.
While a little muddy water probably isn't going to do damage to your pet, it's also hard on a tender tummy. Pets are not accustomed to making do with whatever they can find - and that's a good thing. They shouldn't be drinking from unsafe sources.
In this case, it's probably best to let the dog get it out of its system before offering fresh water. Then start slowly. And do your best to prevent it from happening again.
They've Gotten Into Chemicals in the Water
This can be a medical emergency! Cleaning chemicals - especially bathroom and toilet bowl cleaners, can poison your pet! Fertilizers, pesticides, and antifreeze can be deadly. Call your vet and tell them what you think your dog may have consumed and that you are bringing the animal straight to the office for an emergency call!
Know how to contact a 24-hour emergency vet for those times that your own veterinarian is not available.
They Have Been Exposed to Blue-Green Algae
In the summertime, some bodies of standing water become stagnant with blue-green algae. This too is an emergency!
Try not to let your dog swim in or drink from stagnant water. But if it happens, seek care from a veterinarian. There are no home treatments for this.
They May Have a Twisted Stomach
Some breeds of dogs are prone to bloating. Big dogs with deep chests like Great Danes and Boxers are among the breeds known to have this issue. It happens when the stomach twists on itself, cutting off the blood supply and the ability to digest food
The dog may vomit, be unable or unwilling to eat, and be in increasingly greater pain. If it goes untreated for too long, the gut will begin to die, and the dog can die a painful death. Emergency surgery is required to save the dog's life.
Sometimes the vet can keep the problem from happening again by sewing the stomach in place so that it cannot twist again. You'll also need to pay attention to instructions about when and how to feed your dog, because it is not foolproof!
They May Have a Genetic Condition
In rare, sad instances, a dog is born with a condition called megaesophagus. The pup literally cannot swallow food or water. It's more common in Pugs, Danes, and some of the hunting breeds.
The outlook is not good for these dogs, and affected bloodlines should not be bred.
The Good News About Dogs That Vomit Water
Some of those last conditions and unusual occurrences are grim. But they are rare, and most are treatable. The important thing to watch out for is whether or not your dog seems sick after it vomits water.
It's certainly a good idea to call your vet if you have any concerns at all, but most often, it's something that you can monitor at home for a while. If the dog goes back to its normal activity, is eating, and is able to drink once the vomiting stops, then it's probably OK to mention it at your next appointment.
When vomiting frequently recurs, your vet might test for underlying health conditions and mechanical issues. Tests can reveal treatable illnesses which might need lifelong follow-up for your pup. If it turns out that your dog just has a weak tummy, you may come home with a prescription for an antacid.
But it's often the case that your dog just needs to slow down and drink more carefully when it gets excited. It can be a pain to clean up water from the floor, but dog owners know that it's just part of the bargain when your best friend has a drinking problem.
For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com.
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