There’s a million (or so) reasons your dog might lose its lunch, and the vast majority aren’t any serious cause for concern.
According to our team of board certified veterinary nutritionists, dogs tend to bounce back from vomiting more quickly than humans.
Still, any vet will tell you that dog vomit can be a symptom of issues ranging from the mild to the severe. Especially if you’re not already familiar with the ins and outs of your dog’s microbiome. But first, a key distinction:
Why Vomiting Mucus Occurs in Dogs
The wrong diet or a new diet can upset a dog’s stomach. Table scraps and/or very fatty foods can cause the inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Fatty food such as bacon, sausage, steak fat or chicken skin should never be fed to a dog.
Substances such as certain plants, chocolate, grapes, chemicals, insecticides, artificial sweeteners and human medications can be toxic to dogs. Other symptoms of poisoning may include loss of coordination, diarrhea, seizures and weakness.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs is a chronic gastrointestinal disease. Many dogs with inflammatory bowel disease have a history of recurring vomiting or diarrhea. This condition may occur more often in Wheaten Terriers, Basenjis, Boxers and in the Norwegian Lundehunds breed.
An intestinal blockage refers to complete or partial blockage which may occur when a dog eats inedible objects. Rocks, toys, rawhides, hair ties, sticks and socks can cause a blockage. Blockage of the intestines may also be caused by parasites, a hernia, abdominal tumor or gastroenteritis.
Parasites such as Giardia, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and coccidia can cause vomiting. Additional symptoms may include weight loss, diarrhea, lack of appetite and bloody stool.
Regurgitating with mucus may be caused by:
Esophagitis is the inflammation of the esophagus. The inflammation of the esophagus may be caused by frequent vomiting, cancer of the esophagus, reflux of gastric acids or the ingestion of a chemical or other irritant.
Addison’s disease is also known as hypoadrenocorticism or adrenal insufficiency. The disease is caused by the decrease of hormone production from the adrenal gland. Adrenals are small glands found in front of the kidneys. Certain breeds may be predisposed to Addison’s disease such as Bearded Collies, Portuguese Water Dogs, Standard Poodles and Labrador Retrievers.
Coughing up mucus may be caused by:
Upper Respiratory Infection
Senior dogs with immune deficiency diseases as well as puppies are more likely to develop an upper respiratory infection. Additionally, unvaccinated dogs placed in shelters, day care, or boarding kennels may become infected. Upper respiratory infections are caused by bacteria or viruses. Other symptoms of respiratory infections may include sneezing, runny nose and eyes, green mucus and nose bleeds.
Asthma in dogs is also referred to as allergic bronchitis. Asthma in dogs is often caused by an allergic reaction to an environmental allergen such as pesticides, cigarette smoke, perfumes, fertilizers, paint and cleaning products.
All dogs vomit occasionally, so if your dog only does so once in a while it may not be a major cause for concern. But you should pay attention to your dog’s health—and, if your dog vomits, it’s a good idea to examine what comes out. For a more comprehensive look at conditions that could cause your dog to vomit, check out our guide. And if your dog vomits repeatedly or you have any reason to suspect they’re sick, contact a vet as soon as you can. In the meantime, here is some information about why there might be mucus in your dog’s vomit, and what you should do about it.
Just like people, dogs who scarf their food down too fast might not feel too well afterwards. If you think your dog might be speeding through mealtime, you could try a puzzle bowl or slow feeder to put the brakes on a bit. An extra benefit of this approach is that it can be fun for your pup and keep their mind more active while they eat.
If your dog only vomits once after a dietary indiscretion—and you know that what they ate isn’t dangerous—you could let their stomach settle, temporarily switch to a bland diet like boiled chicken and white rice, and make sure they have fresh water to drink so they don’t get dehydrated. In the context of a change in diet, if they vomit once but seem otherwise fine, slow the transition down to avoid stomach upset. But if your dog throws up more than once or twice, or has eaten something that you think might be poisonous to dogs or cause a bowel obstruction, you should call a veterinarian right away. Generally, when in doubt, seek a vet’s advice.
If you suspect your dog may have parvovirus, take them to the vet as soon as you can. Tell the veterinarian ahead of time that you think your dog has parvo–it’s a contagious disease, and they need to take steps to protect other patients. Most dogs who receive treatment survive parvo, but it’s important to act quickly to give your dog the best chance of success. All dog owners should talk to their vets about the parvovirus vaccination schedule, and what precautions to take with their puppies before the series of shots has been completed.
Mucus serves an important role in your dog’s digestive system, lubricating their colon and making it easier for them to poop. It’s slimy-looking, and may appear clear, cloudy, yellow, or white. If you see a small amount of mucus in your dog’s vomit, it’s not necessarily something to worry about–but you should be on the lookout and tell your vet what you’ve seen. If you observe a lot of mucus in your dog’s vomit, if it appears repeatedly, or if your dog is regularly vomiting at all, that calls for a prompt visit to a veterinarian. Vomiting more than once or twice could indicate a serious illness, and if your dog keeps vomiting they are likely at risk of becoming dehydrated without treatment.
If your dog is chronically producing too few hormones (Addison’s disease) or too many (Cushing’s disease), either condition can cause vomiting.
What to do: Addison’s and Cushing’s diseases require persistent management and a long-term care plan developed between you and your vet.