My Dog Is Regurgitating His Food
In every dog's life, there are bound to be some episodes of regurgitation. In fact, regurgitation serves as both a protective response and a strategy employed by canine mothers to feed their young during the period immediately following weaning them from breast milk and before they are capable of consuming freshly killed prey.
Regurgitation is simply a way of emptying the stomach of its contents before the initial stages of digestion have been completed. The reasons for this evacuation vary, but the one possibility that every dog owner and veterinarian should be most concerned about is an obstruction somewhere along the dog's digestive tract. In such instances, food and water cannot pass beyond the obstruction and have nowhere to go. The dog's system senses this and attempts to evacuate these materials in the opposite direction. Because the system is designed to try to correct the problem, increased muscular contractions of the gastrointestinal tract begin in an effort to move the obstruction along. Your dog may feel a cramping sensation and act restless and uncomfortable. Eventually, if these contractions are unsuccessful at moving the obstruction, the intestines can be perforated. Once intestinal contents are spilled into the abdomen, rapid infection and inflammation follow and the consequence is frequently fatal.
What to Look For?
In cases of regurgitation, it is best to proceed in a straightforward manner. Begin by examining the contents of what your dog has just regurgitated. Continue by conducting a thorough oral exam as outlined in “My Dog Is Drooling Excessively”. Moving on, feel your dog's neck and throat for swelling or lumps.
Next, with your dog standing, kneel beside him. Place one hand, palm facing up, on your dog's abdomen, just behind his rib cage. Forming a “U” shape with your thumb as one side and your remaining four fingers as the other, gently lift, squeeze, and slide your hand back and forth along your dog's underbelly in order to check for areas of discomfort or tenderness.
Finally, lift your dog's tail up check his anus for signs of swelling, irritation, blood, diarrhea, or parasites.
What to Do
Now ask yourself these questions:
When to Get to the Vet
If you suspect that your dog has an obstruction of the digestive tract, rush him to the veterinary hospital at once!
Text © 2007 by Robert D. "Jake" Tedaldi, D.V.M.