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Why Do Dogs Eat Their Vomit? [4 Reasons+6 Tips to Prevent It]

Updated by Sheryl on Nov 12, 2021

If you own a dog, you might have seen it throwing up the food and then licking it up by itself. No doubt, it is the most disgusting thing for pet owners to watch their dog eating its own vomit. Often, it makes the owners vomit too, and they can't stop retching. Unfortunately, such behavior is hard to forget. So, knowing the reasons why do dogs eat their vomit is crucial in its future prevention.

The short answer is, dogs eat their vomit because they consider it similar to food due to their strong sense of smell. Often, they eat puke to remove the evidence since they know your reaction. Also, in the wild, throwing up regurgitated food in front of pups is a natural instinct of a mama dog, so her critters can easily digest the food. Eating puke is normal for dogs since they do it from an early age.

dog vomit
  • How Vomit and Regurgitation Differ in Dogs
  • Reasons Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Throw up/Vomit
  • Is It Safe for Your Dog to Eat Its Vomit
  • 6 Tips to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Its Vomit?
  • Most Frequently Asked Questions
  • Conclusion

Before we sort out why dogs eat their throw-up, it is crucial to know the difference between vomiting and regurgitation.

When a dog vomits, it involuntarily expels up the partially digested food mixed with bile from the stomach and small intestine. Moreover, your pet might feel uncomfortable and makes retching sounds and hunched posture. But mostly, it is a warning sign of food poisoning that needs immediate medical help.

Regurgitation involves the ejection of the saliva-mixed undigested food content from the food pipe. Unlike vomiting, the body language of a dog doesn't change considerably during regurgitation. In addition, it happens right after your fido eats.

Now, you get a good understanding of vomited and regurgitated food. Let's move on to find the science behind dogs eating their vomit.

puppy vomit

Most pet owners worry when their dog gobbles up its puke in front of them. That's why they desperately want to know why do dogs eat their vomit. Here are a few possible reasons:

Dogs Think Vomit Is Food:

Generally, dogs have an amazing sense of smell since they possess more than 300 olfactory nerves. Incredibly, the whole nose of your dog can detect and smell different food items. That's why they don't like to waste the food content of their vomit and prefer eating it.

Dogs Hide Vomit from Others:

Typically, dogs throw up food that they don't like. If you've ever reacted overly after seeing your fido's puke, the next time, it will eat its vomit to hide it from you possibly. Most dogs remove the signs of their illness from other animals. They have evolved this instinct from wild animals who eat their vomit to remove the evidence that they're ill and vulnerable.

Dogs Regurgitate the Fastly Eaten Food to Protect it From Others:

Dogs are overprotective of their food. So, they prefer fast eating to protect it from other dogs. That's why they vomit to eat the soft food again that is easy to digest. Often, it's normal, but if it repeatedly occurs, it can be a severe problem.

For feeding Their Pups:

In the wild, wolves-the ancestors of domesticated dogs, used to regurgitate the food for their pups during weaning. That's why most dogs have evolved the same habit. They regurgitate the food and throw it up in front of their puppies to eat it. Therefore, a dog that eats its mother's vomit since puppyhood can eat its puke too.

A guilty puppy who has done something wrong

If your dog has recently eaten its puke before you, then excluding the disgusting factor, you might be worried if it is safe for a dog to eat its vomit? Well, it depends on the situation; if your buddy has thrown up regurgitated food, then it is safe, and you can allow it, but if the vomit results from an infection or a poison, eating it can cause severe health issues. A dog's vomit contains bile that is too acidic and harmful for its teeth' enamel. 

Most dogs suffer vomiting when they ingest poison, toxic or harmful food, or any foreign object. Your fido's vomit is too acidic, and eating it back can cause severe harm to the tooth enamel and lining of the food pipe. Therefore, such behavior should be discouraged at any cost.

If you want to prevent your dog from eating its vomit, read the below-mentioned tips about how to discourage such behaviors.

  • Clean the Vomit Right Away: Removing the puke immediately from the crime scene helps stop your fido from eating it again.And you might be wondering how to clean a dog's vomit? It's simple, first, wear a mask and spray perfume on it to avoid puke's smell. Then, wear gloves and clean the extra mess with paper towels. Next, sprinkle some baking soda over the stain if it is on the flour. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes, and finally, use white vinegar and dish wash liquid to wash the area. It's similar to the steps cleaning up the dog poop.
  • Use Distractions: Distract your dog after it vomits since most dogs get aggressive and don't allow their owners to clean puke.
  • Take Your Dog Outdoor: Once your dog has vomited, take him outside as soon as possible. In this way, you won't have to clean another puke indoors. Since dogs often throw up again after their first vomit.
  • Treat Vomiting: If your dog has vomiting due to indigestion, increase the duration between meal timings and allow its stomach to empty fully. Then, consult your vet to sort out the actual reason behind excessive vomiting.
  • Avoid Offering Unsuitable Treats: If you eat in front of your dog, often you can't resist when it demands. In addition, most human foods are toxic to dogs and can cause stomach upset. So, avoid offering these unsuitable treats to your buddy to prevent vomiting and indigestion.
  • Use Food Bowls for Fast Eaters: If fast eating is the cause behind vomiting and regurgitation, try using food bowls special for fast eaters. In case of vomiting, besides consulting your vet, offer blended food to your puppy for 24 hours.
  • Double bowls for feeding and water supply
  • Raised bowls to prevent vomitting and choking
  • Tilted bowls for easily eating, relieve neck pressure
  • Detachable bowls, easy to clean
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Should I stop my dog from eating its vomit?
Yes, you should stop your dog from eating its vomit since it is highly acidic and can damage its tooth enamel and esophageal lining. Often, eating puke can induce excessive vomiting.
Why do dogs guard their vomit?
Dogs have a guarding instinct, and they like to protect their belongings. That's why they also guard their vomit since they own it. However, you can avoid such behaviors in your fido by distractions.
How to prevent regurgitation in dogs?
Regurgitation is normal if it occurs once or twice daily in dogs. But frequent regurgitation can be a sign of a serious medical issue, so contact your vet. Raising the height of food and water bowls can also help to prevent it.

Now, if you are still wondering why dogs eat their vomit, reread the post. Eating puke or vomit is a disgusting behavior that should be discouraged. Moreover, it weakens the love bond between you and your pet. If you notice such behavior in your dog, firstly, try to find out the reason for throwing up. If it is because your dog has overly eaten the meal, it is okay. But if it is due to an underlying health issue, your vet will diagnose and treat the problem.

Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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