White vomit in dogs: causes and treatment | Vets & Clinics

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White vomit in dogs: causes and treatment

Find out about the causes and potential treatments for white vomit in dogs.

Nutrition and illnesses

Causes of vomiting in dogs

Dogs suffer from vomiting quite often and it is a common disorder that may be due to different reasons and observed from puppyhood onwards.

Gastrointestinal disorders, both acute and chronic, are among the most frequently encountered problems in clinical practice. And gastroenteritis in dogs is one of the leading causes of veterinary consultation.

Among the main acute causes of vomiting and/or diarrhoea in dogs are:

  • Sudden change in diet: an inappropriate diet, poisoning from eating scraps, a food intolerance or sensitivity, poisoning, etc.
  • Gastrointestinal inflammation: gastritis may be due to an infection caused by parasites or protozoa (Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia spp., coccidia, worms, hookworms, etc.), bacteria (salmonellosis, colibacillosis, Clostridium spp., Campylobacter spp., etc.) or viruses (canine distemper, parvovirus, Enterovirus, etc.). Fever is a sign of gastritis. If the vomit contains blood, an ulcer may be involved.
  • Functional or mechanical ileus: gastric dilatation, volvulus, ingestion of a foreign body, electrolyte disorders.
  • Medicinal products and toxic substances: caustic chemicals, plants, heavy metals, ethylene glycol, pesticides (carbamates, organophosphates), medicines such as anti-inflammatories, antineoplastic agents, antibiotics, etc.
  • Neurological disorders
  • Extragastrointestinal disorders: acute pancreatitis, liver disease, kidney disease, hypoadrenocorticism, pyometra, peritonitis, diabetic ketoacidosis, septicaemia.

Common causes of chronic vomiting and/or diarrhoea include:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders: chronic kidney disease, diabetic ketoacidosis, liver disease, chronic pancreatitis with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, hypoadrenocorticism, mastocytosis.
  • Gastric disorders: chronic gastritis, inappropriate diet, immune-mediated disorders or due to intestinal inflammation (lymphocytic–plasmacytic, eosinophilic), Helicobacter spp., gastric motility disorders, gastroesophageal reflux syndrome, foreign body, ulcers, neoplasms, gastroparesis, etc.
  • Disorders of the small and/or large intestine: Parasites and protozoa (ascariasis, hookworm disease, trichuriasis, strongyloidiasis, taeniasis), adverse food reaction (indiscretion, allergy, intolerance, etc.), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), antibiotic-responsive diarrhoea, bacteria (Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium difficile, Yersinia enterocolitica, Campylobacter spp., Salmonella), gluten enteropathy, lymphosarcoma, protein-losing enteropathy, lymphangiectasia, histoplasmosis, ulcer, partial obstruction (neoplasm, foreign body, intussusception, extraluminal obstruction, etc.), colitis (lymphocytic–plasmacytic or eosinophilic), Clostridium enterotoxicosis, fibre-responsive colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, colonic neoplasm, histiocytic ulcerative colitis in Boxers, etc.

The causes of white vomit in dogs include eating too fast, excessive exercise, reflux gastritis and abdominal distension, as well as infectious causes such as kennel cough, parasites or, at an essentially anecdotal level, rabies.

Management of yellow vomiting

The treatment of vomiting in dogs depends on the clinical signs and underlying causes. It is worth highlighting that most causes are mild and do not require long-term treatment.

Traditionally, temporary food deprivation has been recommended to reduce the amount of unabsorbed nutrients in the intestine and which could cause osmotic diarrhoea, diminish the bacterial flora and reduce mucosal antigen stimulation. The duration of food deprivation depends on age, severity of the signs and whether or not the patient suffers vomiting, although it is usually for 24–36 hours (maximum of 12 hours for puppies). After the fasting period, food should be reintroduced gradually with small and frequent rations (3–4 meals a day) minimising the osmotic load on the weakened intestine.

In acute gastrointestinal disorders, an easy-to-digest, low-fat diet with an optimal fatty acid and micronutrient profile is recommended to minimise the secretory effect due to the malabsorption of fat and bile acids in the intestine.

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