My dog can be quite a mystery at times. I have gone through episodes with my dog when he would cough, sneeze or behave weirdly for a period of time before resetting back to normal.
It can be worrying when the symptoms last for more than a day or two but thankfully things sorted themselves out naturally.
Vomiting in dogs can be a common occurrence but what does it mean when your dog has been throwing up hard white chunks?
When a dog throws up white chunks, it can be due to ingesting foreign bodies, stomach acid buildup, gastritis, etc. The vomiting will go away after the dog’s stomach has settled otherwise it is better to seek veterinary advice as chronic vomiting can be life-threatening.
Let us take a look at the possible reasons that are causing your dog’s vomiting and what you should be doing about it.
Vomiting Vs Regurgitation In Dogs
Before we get deeper into the article, it is important for you to know the difference between vomiting and regurgitation in your dog.
When a dog vomits, it is forcefully expelling the contents of its upper intestines and stomach. Most times, your dog’s vomit will contain stomach juices, fluids and partially digested food.
Regurgitation happens passively without all audible retching and forceful ejection that comes with vomiting. Regurgitated contents often remain undigested as they don’t make it to the stomach.
Since regurgitation happens within the esophagus or throat of your dog, the undigested food can look tubular in shape.
Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Hard White Chunks?
It can be a distressing moment for both you and your dog when it starts to vomit. The sight of your dog gagging, retching and puking is a cause for concern.
Although vomiting in dogs can be caused by a wide range of medical issues, we will narrow down the causes that involve white chunks.
Gastritis is a stomach problem that can happen in both humans and dogs. This is when the dog’s stomach lining becomes inflamed.
There are a number of causes that can lead to gastritis in dogs:
- Eating spoiled or rotten meat
Dogs that suffer from gastritis will experience bouts of vomiting that can consist of white chunks or foam. The dog will also appear lethargic, won’t have much of an appetite and have a painful and upset stomach.
There are two types of gastritis, acute and chronic. Acute gastritis happens over a period of 1-2 days before it clears up. Chronic is more worrying as it can last for a lot longer with more serious symptoms.
It won’t come as a surprise to many dog owners to have dogs that tend to eat a lot more than what they can handle.
I’m guessing having evolved from wolves is a contributing factor. Wolves have a feast and famine relationship with food.
When wolves hunt, they will gorge themselves with as much food as possible as there’s no telling when the net meal with appear. It is possible for them to go for weeks just scavenging for scraps.
The same thing can happen with your dog when it consumes too much food in one go which causes gastric distress.
This can lead to other symptoms such as:
- Acid reflux
When too much food is consumed, this sends a signal to your dog’s body to increase stomach acid production.
Our canine friends can produce up to 100x more stomach acid as compared to humans which can be as corrosive battery acid.
All this excess stomach acid in your dog’s stomach causes pressure to build up leading to pain and bloating.
Besides vomiting, your dog will be farting a ton to try and decrease the pressure in its digestive system.
Whatever you think a human can be allergic to, so can your dog. In fact, food allergies are a lot more common in dogs than we realize.
Food allergies or sensitivity occur when your dog eats something that its body doesn’t agree with. The dog’s immune system will start to produce antibodies to try and eradicate the allergens.
This is why we tend to feel sick when having an allergic reaction as the body thinks it’s under ‘attack’.
If there is something in your dog’s diet that it is allergic to, it can irritate its digestive tract which can cause the dog to vomit and have diarrhea.
It can also cause your dog to feel itchy around its face and ear areas.
There are a few common ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction in your dog. Many dogs are allergic to:
When buying dog food, it would be best to avoid brands that use a lot of such stuff in their dog food. Usually, kibbles and cheap canned food use a lot of these ingredients as fillers.
I have yet to meet a dog owner whose dog hasn’t been to the vet for eating something that it shouldn’t have.
Dogs can be just as curious as cats and tend to explore the environment with their mouths. when my cat investigates something new, it smells, rubs and walks away.
My dog will smell, lick and attempt to make a meal out of it.
It could be that your dog might have eaten a foreign object that it can’t break down and vomited it out.
This is a good thing actually.
A foreign object can easily turn into an obstruction if it gets stuck in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. This can be very serious as your dog can’t digest food and poop properly any longer.
Not too long ago, my dog ate a small piece of magic eraser without me realizing it. I only found out about his mischievous deed when I saw the leftover white chunky puke on my carpet.
If your dog has a habit of rummaging through the trash and eating tissue paper or even soiled baby diapers (eek!), get a bin that has a lockable lid.
Rawhide or jerky strips can also cause your dog to vomit up white chunks. These bone-shaped chewing treats can break apart when your dog chews on them for too long.
It can remain in your dog’s digestive system for a few days before being expelled out.
Many dog owners tend to include some plant matter like carrots and sweet potatoes in their dog’s food every now and then.
I think this is ok even though dogs are meant to be carnivores.
Dogs can’t really break down plant matter as they lack the necessary enzymes but as prolific opportunistic scavengers, they can adapt their diet rather quickly.
I don’t usually include greens in my dog’s food unless it is something that he really likes such as turnip greens or kale which have many health benefits.
If you have given your dog something fibrous, it can have trouble breaking down the plant matter in its stomach. It can hang around in your dog’s stomach until it is time to come up.
Here’s a rather humorous story.
My friend gave his dog a piece of water chestnut as a treat. The dog swallowed it whole instead of chewing it into smaller pieces.
Three days later, his dog puked out a white round object that was slightly digested. He freaked out because it looked like an eyeball!
But it was the undigested water chestnut.
Bilious Vomiting Syndrome
Bilious vomiting syndrome can happen when your dog gets too hungry during the night. This can cause some of the fluid from the intestines to flow back into the stomach.
This fluid is called bile which helps to digest food. Bile is very acidic and can irritate the dog’s empty stomach.
When this happens, it can make your dog feel nauseous and vomit. The vomit usually looks yellowish-green in color with white foam.
One way to counter this is to feed your dog a little meal before it sleeps. This can keep its stomach full until it’s time to eat in the morning.
How Do I Know If My Dog Throwing Up Is Serious?
Although seeing your dog vomit can seem like a life-threatening incident, there’s no need to panic until you access the situation.
There are a few important things to note.
Firstly, how long has your dog been vomiting?
If it’s only once or twice, you can keep an eye on your dog to make sure that the situation doesn’t deteriorate.
Secondly, is there any blood in your dog’s vomit?
Blood in the vomit means there is some form of internal bleeding going on in your dog’s body.
If your dog’s vomiting doesn’t let up or it’s vomiting blood, you need to get your dog to the vet immediately.
The vet might have to do an x-ray or an endoscope to take a better look at your dog’s digestive system to diagnose the problem.
What Can I Do To Help My Dog After It Has Vomited?
If your dog has vomited, chances are it won’t be feeling too good. The tummy will be queasy and it won’t have much of an appetite.
Don’t feed your dog anything oily or salty that can make it feel worse. A bland diet of boiled chicken and some rice can help your dog’s tummy settle and keep the food down.
You can also add chicken broth to your dog’s food to try and stimulate its appetite.
Feed smaller and more frequent meals to put as little stress on the digestive system as possible.