Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Vomiting in Pets & When to Seek Veterinary Care

vomiting in pets, pet health, dog vomiting, cat vomiting, pet emergency, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

If your pet is experiencing persistent, non-productive retching, this is considered a “RED” – or true emergency – on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

If your pet is experiencing persistent/severe vomiting or vomiting paired with diarrhea or loss of appetite, these are considered “ORANGE” – or urgent cases – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend having your pet see your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital within the next 12 hours. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!

If your pet experiences two or fewer episodes of vomiting, this is considered a “YELLOW” – or semi-urgent case – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend having your pet evaluated by your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital within 24 hours. Call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you, and if your pet’s condition worsens, call the team back to inform them of the status change.


If you’re a pet parent, then you are probably familiar with that gagging sound that always gets you to jump to your feet and find your pet. We’ve all been there! It probably comes as no surprise then that vomiting is a very common reason for dogs and cats to wind up at the vet. Whenever your pet vomits, it’s important to understand why a pet may vomit, as well as knowing the differences between when at-home care and monitoring is reasonable, when you need to set up an appointment with your family vet, and when to head to the emergency vet!

vomiting in pets, pet health, dog vomiting, cat vomiting, pet emergency, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

Common Causes 

There are many reasons why a pet may vomit. In general, two categories of problems are considered:

  • Primary Gastrointestinal (GI) Diseases 
  • Secondary GI Diseases 
    • Diseases in which other organ systems affect the GI tract 
    • Examples:
      • Pancreatitis 
      • Liver or kidney disease 
      • Endocrine diseases 
      • Certain toxins 

vomiting in pets, pet health, dog vomiting, cat vomiting, pet emergency, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

When to Monitor Pet at Home

A single episode of vomiting is often not a cause for concern and is usually okay to monitor closely at home – especially if your dog or cat is otherwise behaving normally.  

When to See Your Family Veterinarian 

Make an appointment with your family veterinarian if the vomiting becomes more consistent and chronic (several episodes per week). You may also notice: 

  • Normal to slightly decreased appetite 
  • Normal to slightly decreased energy levels 
  • Possible start of soft stool or mild diarrhea 

vomiting in pets, pet health, dog vomiting, cat vomiting, pet emergency, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

When to Seek Emergency Care 

You should seek immediate emergency veterinary care if the vomiting is persistent or severe. You may also notice: 

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weak/lethargic 
  • Blood in vomit 
  • Diarrhea becomes severe or bloody 

If you know your pet has ingested something it shouldn’t have and there is any concern for obstruction or toxicity, emergency care is also warranted.  

If your dog is retching (trying to vomit) without producing any contents, this can be a sign of life-threatening bloat, or Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV). Seek immediate emergency care. 

vomiting in pets, pet health, dog vomiting, cat vomiting, pet emergency, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

Treatment 

When your pet is receiving treatment for vomiting, the veterinary team will most likely perform the following: 

  • X-Rays 
    • X-rays help to look at the size/shape of the pet’s stomach, small intestines, colon, and other abdominal organs.
    • X-rays are also helpful to discover foreign material ingested that may be causing an obstruction 
  • Bloodwork
    • Bloodwork is helpful in ruling out many secondary GI diseases. 
    • Also used to check electrolytes and if they have been negatively impacted by the loss of fluids through vomiting and diarrhea 
  • Note: More specialized diagnostics such as abdominal ultrasound, urinalysis, and endocrine testing may be recommended. 

What happens next depends on the severity of the pet’s condition; however, care is typically targeted towards symptomatic and supportive care.  

Outpatient care usually involves subcutaneous fluids (fluids infused under the skin to aid in re-hydration), anti-vomiting medications, anti-diarrheal medications, and a bland diet. More targeted care would depend upon the specific diagnosis. 

In more serious cases, such as pets who also have severe bloody diarrhea, severe dehydration, or even shock associated with vomiting/diarrhea, hospitalization may be recommended. This will most likely include IV fluids and IV medications (anti-vomiting, anti-nausea, and pain medications).  

vomiting in pets, pet health, dog vomiting, cat vomiting, pet emergency, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

As always, if there is ever a question on whether veterinary care should be sought out for your sick pet, it is worth contacting your family veterinarian or your local animal emergency hospital for guidance.  

More Reading: 

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, emergency veterinarian, Twin Cities animal emergency hospital, Twin Cities emergency care, pet emergency

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Fast Track Triage, color-coded triage system, pet emergency, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet, Oakdale emergency vet

Leave a Reply

HAVE A NON-MEDICAL QUESTION? FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Oakdale St. Paul Text Us