Vomiting Versus Regurgitation

Image of a dog throwing up.

When you come home to find a mess on the floor, it is easy to assume that the dog vomited. Vomiting is very common in dogs, as they often eat weird things! There are actually many other causes of vomiting, including parasites, kidney disease, liver problems, pancreatitis, and food allergies. Overall, there are probably at least 101 causes of vomiting.

When you take your dog to the veterinarian, the doctor will ask questions and determine if the dog is truly vomiting, or if the dog really has regurgitation, because they have different causes. You will be asked if you saw the process and what the mess looked like.

Vomit

Vomiting has many causes, but results in the stomach ejecting its contents through the mouth. Very active vomiting can also cause intestinal fluid to be brought up. When vomiting, a dog will often precede the act by retching, actively using the abdominal muscles, to force the contents up and out of the body. The process is often strenuous and dynamic.

The vomitus, meaning the material that was vomited up, comes from the stomach or intestines, and therefore contains a lots of fluid. The fluid may be a range of colors, from clear, to white foamy, yellow, green, brown, or even red if there is fresh blood. Blood that has been in the stomach longer will become digested, and look like coffee grounds when vomited up.

Of course, there could be many other things in the vomitus depending on what was eaten. There could be dog food, which will look like it is starting to digest rather than its original form. Non-food material may look digested, or it may look like the original form depending on whether the material can be digested. Objects like metal, plastic, and many fabrics cannot be digested.

Regurgitation

Regurgitation, on the other hand, comes from problems in the esophagus, the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach. A dog that is regurgitating will just burp up material. There is no active movement from the abdominal muscles pressing on the stomach.

Since the food or other material does not make it to the stomach, it is not digested; food will look much like it did when it was eaten. Sometimes there can be water in the material that is regurgitated if the problem is a megesophagus. This is a disease where the esophagus is not a straight tube, but becomes flaccid and dilates. Things that are ingested may just sit in this dilated area, not reaching the stomach, and will be regurgitated later. Often, there can be fluid with food that is regurgitated.

Diseases of the esophagus include ulcers, inflammation, foreign bodies stuck inside the esophagus, tumors, and megesophagus. This is why it is important to know if that mess on the floor is caused by vomiting, or by regurgitation.

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  • "We have a new 8 week Boston Terrier that we took to Springfield Vet yesterday for the first time. Absolutely pleased with the service, attitudes and genuine care shown to our little boy. The whole team was so professional, but took time to talk to you and explain everything. Dr Cynthia Wiseman is so wonderful, she sat in the floor did Logan's exam and played with him. What bedside manners. I will continue to use them, I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a caring and professional vet."
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    Our boy, Samson, is a Rottie (and quite the problem child). We are usually in the clinic almost every other month for something and they are always so helpful and show great care and love for our pup! We are very picky/protective puppy parents, so we were very grateful to have found both Dr. Cynthia and Dr. Heath shortly after getting Samson.

    We have definitely found our "home" in the vet world, and would highly recommend to anyone who is currently looking!"
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  • "We decided to start taking our new kitty here this past fall and we love it! He was not on his best behavior (to say the least) for his first appointment, and the staff was so patient and was still able to safely run his bloodwork and give him his vaccinations. Every service has been reasonably priced, and they did everything they possibly could to make sure that our little guy was off to a healthy start after we adopted him. What I love is that they really seem to focus on the small details, too, like trimming our cat's nails after remembering that I had expressed interest in doing so at a previous appointment, or supplementing his flea treatment with something to safely speed up the process. We will definitely keep coming here as long as we live in Springfield!"
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  • "I have been taking my dog to SVC since 2012 and when I adopted my cat in 2015. I have never had a bad experience. We have seen Drs. Heath & Cynthia Wiseman and I love them both. Always professional, always take their time when looking my pets over, asking questions, and answering mine."
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  • "We’ve been taking our Moose there for a few years now. After swallowing a toy when he was a puppy, getting fixed, having surgery on his eyelids a couple times, and most recently having a breed specific illness; I can I say I would recommend everyone to go here. They’ve taken the best care of our boy time and time again and went above and beyond."
    Ashley J.
  • "We’ve been taking our Moose there for a few years now. After swallowing a toy when he was a puppy, getting fixed, having surgery on his eyelids a couple times, and most recently having a breed specific illness; I can I say I would recommend everyone to go here. They’ve taken the best care of our boy time and time again and went above and beyond."
    Ashley J.
  • "Pleasant staff.,very informative. Great environment for your pets, including own room for cats to play so as they aren't stressed out."
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  • "Dr. Cynthia Wiseman has helped my little Shiba dog with chronic hip problems tremendously with consistent acupuncture therapy! So thankful for this practice and the high quality of care they offer my pets!"
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