Category : Symptoms-What They Mean

Why Is My Dog Always Hungry?

Although dogs may seem perpetually interested in food, an excessive appetite (called polyphagia or hyperphagia) may signal a more serious issue that should be examined by a veterinarian.

If your dog is always hungry, they could have a problem with their metabolism, leaving them abnormally hungry, and they may be begging or whining even after eating.

So how can you tell if your dog is just very interested in food or has an underlying problem?

Here’s what to look for, possible causes, and when to see a vet.

What to Check For if Your Dog Is Always Hungry

If your dog doesn’t have any other symptoms and appears to be fine other than wanting to eat all the time, schedule a vet visit within 1-2 weeks or at the earliest time available.

Dogs that are suddenly hungrier than usual often have other symptoms. As a rule of thumb, any change in eating or bathroom habits should prompt a visit to the veterinarian.

Call your vet if you see any of the following:

Increased thirst and urination

Vomiting or diarrhea

Changes in weight (gain or loss)

Changes in body shape, such as a growing potbelly and shrinkage of muscle

Eating non-food items

Causes of Increased Appetite in Dogs

There’s no clear-cut cause for why a dog might be obsessed with eating. It could stem from a psychological issue, such as stress or learned behavior, or a medical issue, such as not getting the right nutrients or an underlying health condition.

That’s why you’ll need your vet’s help in getting the root of the problem. They can perform tests and ask questions to rule out certain causes. Here are some of the most common causes of increased appetite in dogs:

Psychological issues, such as anxiety or stress

Learned behavior, due to poor nutrition (either fed too much or too little)

Aging process (as dogs age, some will begin to crave food more)

Medication, such as prednisone

Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes mellitus and hypoglycemia

Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)

Gastrointestinal disorders that interfere with nutrient absorption, which can include:

Inflammatory bowel syndrome


Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

Parasites/infections that interfere with nutrient absorption

How Vets Find the Cause for Increased Appetite in Dogs

Your veterinarian may want to run a range of tests to determine the underlying cause for the sudden increase in appetite. They will usually start with the least invasive tests to try to rule things out. Here are some diagnostics your vet may want to do:

Complete medical history and physical examination

Blood panels, such as a complete blood count


Tests for parasites, such as fecal flotation and Giardia tests

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test or low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDS) to check for Cushing’s disease

Imaging tests such as ultrasound

Serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity test (TLI) to check for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

Endoscopy examination (may be considered after additional testing is completed)

Treatment of Increased Appetite in Dogs

Don’t delay in getting your dog examined by a veterinarian if they appear to be suffering from constant hunger. Treatment will include giving your dog supportive care for the symptom of polyphagia as well as dealing with any underlying conditions:

Behavioral-related causes may be addressed by feeding smaller portions more frequently and carefully supervising your dog’s food consumption.

A metabolic issue, such as diabetes mellitus, may be treated with daily insulin injections and dietary changes.

If Cushing’s disease is diagnosed, medication may be prescribed.

Infection or parasites will be treated with medication and/or deworming.

For exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, your vet will recommend dietary changes and medications.

Treatment for cancer can include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatments.

Increased Appetite in Dogs FAQs

Do dogs eat more as they get older?

Yes. Sometimes this is due to underlying health conditions, such as diabetes mellitus or Cushing’s disease, or a medication they’re taking, like prednisone.

Why does my dog eat like he’s starving?

Many conditions can trigger increased appetite in dogs. A dog may have learned the behavior because they were not properly fed or became anxious about food. Or, they may have developed a metabolic condition or infection or have parasites. Your vet will need to do an exam, ask questions, and do some tests to rule out certain causes.

When is overeating a concern for dogs?

You should call your vet if you notice a sudden and dramatic change in your dog’s dietary habits.


Hall E. Merck Veterinary Manual. Malabsorption Syndromes in Small Animals. June 2020.

Steiner J. Merck Veterinary Manual. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Dogs and Cats – Digestive System. October 2020.

Red Gums in Dogs

Red gums in dogs are usually a sign of a dental problem. A dog with good oral health has healthy pink gums, clean white teeth, and no signs of tartar buildup. No teeth should be loose.

When a dog’s gums begin to turn red, it could mean the beginning of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Red gums in dogs can also be caused by injury, ingesting something toxic, or overheating. In rare cases, the cause may be oral cancer.

Reddened gums may be tender and painful, so your dog may be reluctant to eat. If your dog has red gums, they should be examined by a veterinarian. Here’s some helpful info on red gums in dogs.

Other Symptoms to Watch For if Your Dog Has Red Gums

Panting, lethargy, or head-tilting are more serious symptoms that could signal an emergency situation. See your vet if your dog has any of these.

Keep an eye out for some of these other symptoms that can occur with reddened gums, depending on the cause:

Tartar buildup and bad breath: signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease

Bleeding from the gums: sign of gingivitis, injury (such as from biting on a sharp object), or eating something toxic

Panting: sign of overheating

Cobbled texture: sign of warts or cancer

Causes of Red Gums in Dogs

Possible conditions that can cause red gums in dogs include:

Gingivitis and periodontal disease: With this mild type of gum disease, bacteria build up at the base of the teeth, forming tartar and plaque. This inflames the gums, but damage has not yet occurred to the tooth bone or ligaments holding the teeth in place. When gingivitis worsens, the gums become damaged.

Crowding teeth: If a young dog has too many teeth for the size of their mouth, their gums may become impacted and red.

Advanced age: With some dogs, their gums tend to turn red or even swell as they grow older.

Injury or trauma: Gums can swell and turn red when damaged by biting or being pierced by a hard, sharp object. This may be caused by poor chewing habits.

Toxicity: Your dog’s gums may turn cherry red if they consume something poisonous, such as eating a toxic plant or licking a poisonous toad.

Overheating and heatstroke: A dog’s gums may turn red if your pet is overheated or experiencing heatstroke. In this case, your dog may also be panting heavily.

Disease: Cancer, diabetes mellitus, or uremia (seen with kidney injury or urinary tract obstruction) can cause a dog’s gums to swell and turn red, and you’ll usually also notice other symptoms with each of these.

Papillomatosis (warts on the gums): This usually occurs in younger dogs and in larger breeds, like Labrador Retrievers. The warts often fall off on their own.

Diagnosing Red Gums in Dogs

To determine why your dog’s gums have turned red, your veterinarian will examine their teeth and gums and do a complete physical exam. They may also perform the following tests:

Dental x-rays of the teeth and gums, which can determine if the cause is gingivitis, periodontal disease, or trauma. The exam may be done under anesthesia.

Blood and urine tests to check for an underlying medical condition

Tissue biopsy when conditions such as papillomavirus are suspected

Computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams to investigate more serious causes, like cancer

Treatment of Red Gums in Dogs

Treatment for red gums in a dog depends on the underlying condition diagnosed by your veterinarian.

Dental Issues

Your vet will treat dental problems like gingivitis by deep-cleaning your dog’s teeth to remove plaque and tartar. It’s important to maintain good dental hygiene with your dog all year long.

For more serious dental issues, periodontal surgery or tooth extraction may be recommended. Removing a tooth or teeth may be done to correct an overcrowded mouth.

Oral Issues

Red gums from oral lesions (like warts) may disappear on their own, but oral tumors may require surgery to remove.

Medical Condition

When red gums are due to a medical condition like diabetes, treatment will be based on addressing the specific condition.

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Red Gums in Dogs FAQs

What color is a sick dog’s gums?

Red, pale/white, blue, or yellow.

Red gums may indicate gum disease, injury, or many other conditions.

Pale white gums can indicate anemia.

Bluish gums may be due to a lack of oxygen.

Yellowish gums may be due to liver disease or bacterial infection. 

Healthy gums should be pink.

How do I treat red gums in my dog?

You should not treat this at home. There can be many different causes for red gums in dogs, and only a vet can determine the underlying cause. The vet will determine the appropriate treatment after examining your dog. If dental problems are the cause, dental treatments and better hygiene may be recommended.


Brooks, Wendy. Veterinary Partner. Dental Home Care for Dogs and Cats. January 2001.

Head Tilt in Dogs

If your dog’s head tilt lasts longer than 24 hours or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting or falling over, they should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Dogs naturally tilt their heads when concentrating on sounds, such as your voice, or to hear sounds more clearly. It may also be a sign that your dog is interested in what they hear.

However, excessive head tilting can be a symptom of several issues that should be checked by a veterinarian. Head tilt in dogs is usually due to a condition in the peripheral vestibular system that’s located in the middle ear.

In many situations, head tilting in dogs is most serious within the first 48 hours, especially when the cause is unknown. If the underlying cause is not severe, dogs with head tilt and stumbling often improve over 7-10 days, though some symptoms, such as wobbling, may persist.

Here’s what you should look for and the possible causes and treatment of head tilting in dogs.

Other Signs to Watch For With Head Tilting in Dogs

Your dog may avoid walking or standing, and in many cases, will lean (or even drop) in the same direction as the head tilt. If you see any of the following signs along with head tilting, take your dog to the vet:


Disorientation, leaning, and/or circling



Loss of balance, poor coordination, stumbling, falling over

Not wanting to or hesitating to stand or walk

Eye shifting from side to side

Deafness or difficulty hearing

Causes of Head Tilting in Dogs

Many cases of head tilt in dogs can be traced back to the vestibular system in the middle ear. This system is responsible for helping your dog maintain their balance, posture, and head position, and it also influences eye movement.

Here are the most common causes of dog head tilt:

Vestibular disease:

Peripheral vestibular disease: If the ear is damaged, such as a punctured eardrum (tympanum), a dog may tilt their head. This can also be caused by some antibiotics (often containing aminoglycosides) and ear washes, such as those containing chlorhexidine, as well as infections that affect the middle and inner ear. The central and inner ear are inflamed due to bacterial, parasitic, or other types of infection.

Central vestibular disease: This is usually caused by cancer, stroke, inflammation, or infection to the brain.

Idiopathic peripheral vestibular disease: Idiopathic means that the exact cause is unknown. This is common in senior dogs (10-12 years old) and involves the middle or inner ear.

Hypothyroidism: The thyroid gland does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone, causing the metabolism to slow. Hypothyroidism can cause peripheral vestibular syndrome, accompanied by head tilting.

Nutritional deficiency: Deficiencies in nutrients such as thiamine can cause dogs to tilt their heads.

Diagnosing Head Tilting in Dogs

Your veterinarian will do a physical exam, paying particular attention to your dog’s ears. Depending on the suspected underlying cause, they may recommend several tests, including:

Complete blood count (CBC)

Urinalysis and electrolyte panel

Nutritional status

Imaging tests, such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance (MRI), to determine issues within the middle ear

Cerebrospinal fluid test if inflammation or infection is suspected within the brain. CSF is the watery liquid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord.

Bone biopsy if a tumor or infection of the bone is suspected

Treatment of Head Tilting in Dogs

Head tilting in dogs is sometimes temporary and resolves on its own. However, it can be caused by a serious underlying condition and result in injury due to falling. Have your dog examined as soon as possible.

Treating head tilting depends on the underlying cause, including:

Treatments for stroke, cancer, or serious injury

Antibiotics for an ear infection

Hormone or nutritional support for hypothyroidism or poor nutrition

If the cause is unknown, no treatment other than supportive care is recommended

Supportive treatment depends on the severity of head tilting and its related symptoms:

Hospitalization with IV fluids until head tilting and related symptoms (such as disorientation or poor coordination) subside.


Anti-nausea medication and drugs to counteract motion sickness, especially in mild to moderate cases.

A dog with a more serious underlying disorder may not improve, or symptoms may worsen, in which case, advanced testing will be recommended.


Carnes, M. “Head Tilt in Dogs: A Clinical Approach.” Today’s Veterinary Practice, June 2018.

“What Causes Head Tilt in Dogs? Symptoms and Treatment,” Kingsdale Animal Hospital, January 2022.

Featured Image: Marshall

Why Does My Dog Have a Swollen Face?

Facial swelling in dogs is considered an emergency situation, because it’s possible for the swelling to move to the airway and cause trouble breathing. Seek immediate medical care if you see more serious symptoms of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock), such as difficulty breathing, signs of pain, lethargy, drooling, or dizziness.

A dog’s face will swell when fluid builds up in the tissues. Dogs often get swollen faces from allergic reaction, but there are many other possible causes.

Here are some possible causes of facial swelling in dogs, along with other symptoms to watch for, when to see a vet, and what to expect at the vet visit.

Causes of Facial Swelling in Dogs

Swelling on a dog’s face can be caused by many conditions, but it is most commonly due to dental disease or a reaction to an allergen.

These are some typical allergens that can affect dogs:

Dust and molds


Pollen and plants

Insect bites and stings

Snake bites



Other causes include:

Gingivitis and gum (periodontal) disease

Skin cancer (mast cell tumors are the most common cause)

Oral cancers

Retrobulbar cancer (space behind the eye)


What to Check For if Your Dog’s Face Is Swollen

One clue to figuring out the cause is identifying which part of your dog’s face is swollen:

A swollen muzzle could be a sign of dental problems (periodontal disease). Other signs of periodontal disease usually include reddened gums, bad breath, and pain.

With swollen salivary glands (a condition called sialocele), the neck and jaw area become swollen.

Swelling around the eye (conjunctivitis) is usually accompanied by red eyes and watery discharge.

Puffiness around the ears might be due to allergies. When swelling is due to an allergic reaction, other signs can include hives (raised skin areas called wheals), sneezing, and conjunctivitis.

Swelling may occur in other parts of the face if the cause is from a tumor (such as mast cell tumors or oral masses)

Swelling of the face or neck can cause trouble breathing and become an emergency situation. It’s always best to contact your vet for facial swelling in dogs or if your dog has hives that worsen or last longer than 24 hours.

How Vets Determine the Cause of Facial Swelling in Dogs

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your dog’s head and neck and check other areas of the body. They will ask questions about when it started, any medications, substances, or allergens your dog may have been exposed to, and your dog’s recent activities. They may recommend testing, including:

X-rays: If periodontal disease is suspected, an x-ray may be taken of the jaw.

Medications: Antibiotics may be given experimentally in suspected cases of abscess. A diagnosis may be made if the therapy succeeds in treating the abscess.

Skin scraping: Tissue may be extracted (by skin scraping or fine needle aspiration) to test for tumors.

Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): May be used in suspected cases of cancer or severe dental disease and facial fractures.

Treatment of Facial Swelling in Dogs

The treatment depends on the underlying condition that’s causing your dog’s face to swell.

Mild swelling may resolve on its own, but you still need a vet to check your pet out and determine why their face swelled up.

If the cause is due to dental disease, treatments can range from cleaning to tooth removal.

If an abscess has formed, antibiotics will be given to treat the infection, which will reduce the swelling.

Allergic reactions will be treated by a range of therapies, depending on the severity:

A simple cold compress to relieve itching for mild cases

Glucocorticoids, a type of anti-inflammatory steroid

Antihistamines (their usefulness in dogs has not been proven in studies)

Intravenous fluids may be provided for very serious cases

When the cause is due to injury or cancer, anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to treat swelling while the underlying condition is addressed.

Pain medication may also be prescribed for some causes.

Facial Swelling in Dogs FAQs

What can I give my dog for facial swelling?

Do not try to treat the swelling without first immediately consulting your vet, because certain medications can be dangerous to a dog. Be prepared to provide information about your dog’s medical history and possible exposure to a triggering substance.


Ryan Veterinary Hospital, University of Pennsylvania. Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs.

Moriello, K. Merck Veterinary Manual. Itching (Pruritus) in Dogs. September 2020.

Niemiec, B. Today’s Veterinary Practice. Recurrent Facial Swelling. September/October 2013.

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Why Your Dog Is Excessively Drooling


Drooling is normal for many dogs. But if your dog starts drooling a lot more than usual, or if your dog never drools but suddenly starts, it’s cause for concern.

Excessive drooling in dogs can have a lot of different causes. Here’s some insight on what to check for, what might be causing it, and when to seek veterinary help.

Why Do Dogs Drool?

When a dog eats, the salivary glands in their neck and jaw area produce saliva to help with digestion. Drooling occurs when saliva escapes the mouth. It may happen if your dog sees a treat or when you’re opening a can of dog food.

Drooling is not an issue in most dog breeds. Breeds with large upper lips, such as the Mastiff and St. Bernard, will usually drool more than others.

Why Is My Dog Drooling a Lot?

Excessive drooling in dogs (also known as hypersalivation) can indicate a serious or even life-threatening situation, especially if your dog has other symptoms.

What is considered to be excessive drooling? It depends on how much your dog normally drools. Some breeds drool more than others, so you should compare your dog’s drooling with the amount that’s normal for your dog.

Many conditions can cause dogs to suddenly drool excessively. Here are some common reasons:

Gastrointestinal disorders: Conditions involving the gastrointestinal tract, such as esophagitis, gastritis, enteritis, pancreatitis, foreign body obstruction, gastric ulceration, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastrointestinal cancers can cause drooling in dogs. Usually this is secondary to nausea induced by these medical conditions.

Gum (periodontal) disease or other oral issue: Drooling can be caused by periodontal disease such as gingivitis or stomatitis, or other oral problems such as a sialocele, tumor, or infection. Look for other signs such as a mass, blood, pus, or bad breath.  

Mouth injury: Blunt force trauma, chewing on a sharp object, or foreign material that’s lodged in the mouth (splinter or piece of bone) may all be to blame.

Chemical or electrical burn: Many caustic chemicals, such as battery acid, and any electrical burn (for example, from chewing an electrical cord) can cause bleeding and sometimes drooling. Chemical burns are often accompanied by pain and lesions, and your pet may paw at their mouth. Call your vet right away if you suspect these types of injury.

Toxins and Venoms: Consuming a poisonous plant, food, or drug can cause anything from drooling and pawing at the mouth to life-threatening side effects. Animal venom or secretions, such as a bite from a black widow spider or licking a toad, can also cause your dog to drool. Many plants are irritating or poisonous to dogs when chewed on or eaten. Some common plants that are dangerous for pets are peace lilies and mother-in-law’s tongue. If a plant is toxic enough to cause excessive salivation, it could have other serious effects, so always contact your vet in this case.

Anxiety: You might notice excessive salivation as the result of anxiety caused by going to the vet, moving to a new home, or even riding in a car. Your dog may also be restless, pant, or have diarrhea along with the drooling.

Pain in the abdomen: Abdominal pain often appears together with other signs, such as restlessness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or even abdominal distention. Some dogs will guard their abdomen to avoid being touched where it hurts.

Neurological conditions: Dog drooling could indicate damage to the nerve that connects to the salivary gland, damage to the salivary gland, or damage to the brain. You may also see uneven pupils, lethargy, and weakness. Some neurological conditions can also make it hard for your dog to swallow their saliva. If your dog has difficulty swallowing, call your vet right away. 

Viral or bacterial infection: Rabies and tetanus can both cause drooling in dogs.

Congenital defects: These are conditions that dogs are born with. A few examples include a hiatal hernia (when the upper section of the abdomen pushes into the chest) or portosystemic shunt, a circulatory abnormality.

When to See a Vet if Your Dog Is Drooling Excessively

Seek immediate veterinary help if your dog shows other signs and symptoms, such as:

Vomiting or regurgitation



Lethargy or weakness

Loss of appetite or other changes in eating behavior

Changes in behavior, such as aggressiveness or whining, which can indicate pain

Dizziness, head-tilting, or trouble with balance

Difficulty swallowing

Uneven pupils

Restlessness or panting

Abdominal distention

Pawing at the mouth

How Vets Find the Cause of Excessive Drooling in Dogs

First, your vet will do a physical exam and will check your dog’s mouth and neck. They will take a full medical history if it’s not on file, including vaccinations, medications, exposure to potential poisons, and foreign objects that your dog could have eaten.

Your vet may recommend certain diagnostic tests, depending on the most likely suspected cause. They may include:

X-rays, CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to examine internal organs or possible tumors

Tissue biopsy to check for immune issues or tumors

Treatment of Excessive Drooling in Dogs

You can’t treat your dog’s excessive drooling at home. First, see your vet to determine the underlying cause. The vet can recommend the proper treatment, which could include:

Dental treatment if the cause is due to periodontal disease (this may require removing teeth)

Medication such as antibiotics if the cause is bacterial

Surgical intervention in some cases of trauma and congenital defects

Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy may be suggested to treat tumors

Pain medication and anti-inflammatory medications

Medicated mouthwash (with diluted chlorhexidine or benzoyl peroxide)

Excessive Drooling in Dogs FAQs

Do Dogs Drool When They’re Nervous?

Yes.  Panting, pacing, and drooling excessively can be signs of anxiety and stress in dogs. 

Why Does My Dog Drool in the Car?

Dogs will often drool in the car because of motion sickness. Riding in the car can cause vertigo-like feelings for your pet, which causes nausea and drooling. Also, some dogs get stressed on car rides, and if dogs get nervous, they are more prone to drool. 


Reiter, Alexander. Merck Veterinary Manual. Salivary Disorders in Small Animals. May 2014.

Reiter, Alexander. Today’s Veterinary Practice. Effects of Diets, Treats, and Additives on Periodontal Disease. December 2019.


Featured Image: Assad

Rashes on Dogs

A rash (pyoderma) is usually a temporary outbreak of scaly, patchy, and sometimes swollen or bumpy skin that is often red and may be itchy.

A rash can occur on any part of your dog’s body, but it pops up most often on the belly. A rash by itself is usually minor and often goes away on its own, but it can be a sign of a more serious situation. The cause of rashes on a dog can range from parasites to diabetes.

Here’s what you should know about rashes on dogs, from what to look for to possible causes and their treatments.

What to Check For if Your Dog Has a Rash

If your dog’s rash gets worse or does not go away after a week, take your dog to the vet to be examined.

With rashes on dogs, you may see:

Red, bumpy skin

Dandruff or flakes of skin in your dog’s fur

Hot spots

Hair loss (alopecia)

Excessive scratching

Hives (urticaria)

Mites (cheyletiellosis), also called walking dandruff

Causes of Rashes on Dogs

A rash can occur anywhere on a dog’s body. The location of the rash can provide some clues as to what health issue may have caused it:

Belly rash or underarm rash: A belly rash on a dog is one of the more common reasons pet parents take their dogs to the vet. Rashes also often appear in a dog’s “underarms,” more accurately, the point where a dog’s front and hind legs meet the chest or abdomen. These rashes have many causes:


Insect bites

Irritation from a chemical substance, like fertilizer

Bacterial infection

Groin-area rash: Like a belly rash, a rash in your dog’s groin area is often due to:


Insect bites


A tumor: Male dogs with testicular tumors and unspayed females with hormone issues may have hair loss and a rash beginning in the groin area.

Paw rash: Known as pododermatitis, this is inflammation of the paws that can include a rash. Causes can include:




Irritating substances

Lack of grooming

Low levels of thyroid hormone

Diagnosing Rashes on Dogs

Your vet will give your dog a physical exam and ask questions about your dog’s diet, current health issues, home environment, and other factors. To diagnose a rash, your veterinarian will perform a number of tests, depending on the suspected cause, including:

Allergy tests if an allergen is suspected. This may include a food elimination diet or intradermal allergy testing.

Skin scraping to look for mites, bacteria, fungus, or other potential causes.

Skin biopsy, where a piece of skin is examined at a pathology laboratory (done in cases of recurring infection or rash).

Blood profile to check for diseases such as thyroid issues (hypothyroidism) or Cushing’s disease

Treatment for Rashes on Dogs

To eliminate the rash and make sure it doesn’t come back, your vet will need to find and treat any underlying medical condition that’s causing it.

They may also recommend several treatments for the rash and related symptoms. These may include:

Grooming (such as brushing or cutting away hair)

Oatmeal baths

Medicated dog shampoo (containing antifungal or antibacterial ingredients)

Anti-itch and anti-inflammatory medications

Elizabethan collar or e-collar to prevent a dog from irritating hot spots by licking or biting

Epsom salt foot soaks if your dog’s paws are inflamed. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions, as these can dry out the skin if used inappropriately. Do not allow your dog to drink the solution, which has high sodium levels.

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Rashes on Dogs FAQs

What can I put on my dog’s skin rash?

Depending on the cause and location of the rash (and accompanying symptoms), a veterinarian may recommend oatmeal baths, medicated dog shampoos, or medication to reduce itching and inflammation. Do not give your dog any medications without a veterinarian’s recommendation and guidance.

What does a rash look like on a dog?

Rashes can appear red, bumpy, inflamed, or like welts. There might be hair loss or hot spots, areas of  skin that are inflamed and oozing.

What can cause skin rashes on dogs?

Causes of rash in dogs are numerous and range from allergies and insect bites, which are most common, to thyroid conditions and cancer.


Smith, John. American Heartworm Society. Heartworm Basics. January 2020. Veterinary Partner. Pruritus Diagnostics in Dogs and Cats. October 2003.Brooks, Wendy. Veterinary Partner. Itch Relief for Dogs and Cats. January 2001.White, S.D. Merck Veterinary Manual. Hives and Rashes (Urticaria) in Dogs. June 2018.

Dandruff in Dogs

If you’ve noticed white flakes in your dog’s fur, you might be wondering if they have dandruff  or whether dogs even get dandruff. Yes, they can. Dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis, is common in dogs and humans alike.

Dandruff is not typically a sign of a serious condition, but you can talk with a veterinarian to find out what may be causing it. Make an appointment sooner rather than later if you see symptoms like extreme itchiness or a change in weight or behavior.

Here’s what you need to know about the types of dog dandruff, what to look for, any possible causes, and best treatment options.

Types of Dandruff in Dogs

Not all dandruff in dogs looks like white flakes. It can be either dry or oily, or it may not even be true dandruff. The underlying skin may or may not be red or patchy from hair loss. Here are the most common types:

Seborrhea sicca (dry seborrhea): This dry dandruff may appear as white flakes with crusty skin.

Seborrhea oleosa (oily seborrhea): Your dog’s skin may have an oily feel and give off an odor.

Walking dandruff: If the dandruff seems like it’s moving, this is called Cheyletiella and is actually a type of mite.

What Causes Dog Dandruff?

Dandruff in dogs can be caused by several factors, including:


A vitamin deficiency (such as a lack of omega fatty acids)

Hormone imbalance

Immune-related issues

Genetic condition (more commonly seen in American Cocker Spaniels, West Highland White Terriers, English Springer Spaniels, and Basset Hounds)

Low humidity that strips the skin of moisture and dries it out

Health conditions, including hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid glands), autoimmune conditions (pemphigus), and diabetes mellitus

Cheyletiellosis, or “walking dandruff,” is caused by white mites that can be seen with the naked eye. The mites lay their eggs in the dog’s fur and cause extreme itchiness.

Bacterial and fungal skin infections

Diagnosing Dandruff in Dogs

To diagnose the underlying cause of dandruff, a veterinarian may:

Perform a physical examination

Ask how long the dandruff has been occurring, whether your dog has been scratching (or showing other habits that indicate discomfort), and what your dog’s diet/water intake is

Take skin samples (skin scraping) and material from your dog’s hair to check for mites or lice

Suggest allergy tests, such as a food elimination diet or an intradermal skin test, if an allergen is suspected

Examine skin cells and debris from your dog’s ears for yeast or bacterial infection

Do a tissue biopsy to test for cancer

Do blood tests to screen for:

Diabetes mellitus

Cushing’s disease

Hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone)

Home Remedies and Treatments for Dog Dandruff

In simple cases, dandruff may be prevented with good nutrition and regular grooming. Some veterinarians may suggest adding omega-6 fatty acids to the diet, but always check with your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet.

Be sure to talk with your vet for at-home remedies that fit your dog’s situation. Never use anti-dandruff products for humans; these products can be harmful to dogs.

Other treatment recommendations may include:

Bathing your dog regularly, using an oatmeal-based dog shampoo or soothing shampoos such as Virbac Epi-Soothe. Persistent dandruff may require a prescription shampoo to calm itchy, aggravated skin.

Frequent brushing is important to massage the skin and help spread a dog’s natural oils over their body. Using the right brush is also important (one with the right firmness for your dog). Depending on your dog’s coat, you may try FURminator de-shedding tools for different coat lengths, or products like de-matting brushes and shine/condition soft-bristle brushes.

Mites (cheyletiellosis) require extensive treatment because they can live up to 10 days on everyday objects.

All pets with mites should be bathed 6 to 8 times a week. A vet may prescribe rinses containing insecticide and lime sulfur, along with oral medication.

Bedding, kennels, and rugs can be cleaned to prevent reinfestation.

Dandruff in Dogs FAQs

Why does my dog have dandruff?

Dandruff can occur in dogs as a result of dry, flaky skin; as a reaction to an allergen; or as the result of a mite infestation.

Should I be worried if my dog has dandruff?

Dandruff is usually not a cause for concern unless there are other signs, such as constant scratching or symptoms that may suggest a more serious underlying condition, like diabetes or Cushing’s disease.

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Lumps, Bumps, and Cysts on Dogs

The overall health of a dog is often reflected in their skin. Dogs can get lumps, bumps, and cysts from normal aging, or they can be signs of a problem.

There are two major types of lumps and bumps on dogs: malignant (cancerous) and benign (not cancerous). However, you can’t tell the type or severity of a growth just by looking at it. A veterinarian can take a sample of cells to give you a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.  

Types of Lumps and Bumps on Dogs

Here are several common skin growths found in dogs, along with info on what they look like and what to watch for:

Benign Tumors

Tumors that are benign are not invasive or likely to spread to other body areas.


A histiocytoma is a benign skin growth that usually occurs in dogs less than 2 years of age. They are found on the front half of a dog’s body, usually on the head or legs. Rarely, they can be seen in older dogs or on other areas of the body.

Histiocytomas are pink and fleshy but may get bigger and seem more irritated before improving. These tumors usually regress spontaneously over time without treatment and arise from the skin’s immune cells. They can be diagnosed through microscopic examination of a sample of cells from the growth.


A lipoma may show up anywhere on a dog’s body but is common on the trunk and legs. Lipomas come from fat cells under the skin or are found in muscle tissue. They usually develop in older, overweight dogs. They may become quite large or appear in multiple locations.

A vet can diagnose a lipoma by taking a small sample of cells from the growth to look for fat droplets. No treatment is needed, but these should be monitored for rapid changes. They will gradually enlarge with time, and may bother your dog if they’re located in an area that interferes with motion. When lipomas start to bother your pet, you can consider surgical removal.


A papilloma in young dogs is a contagious, wart-like growth that usually occurs in and around the mouth. In older dogs, they might be seen around the eyes or on other areas of the body. Papillomas are caused by a virus that can be spread through direct contact with an infected dog or contaminated items, such as toys or feeding bowls.

They appear small, fleshy, and round with a cauliflower-like texture to the surface. Many will dry up and fall off within a few months as the dog’s immune system matures. Severe cases may make eating or swallowing difficult and require treatment by surgical removal. Medications and other treatment methods are also available, including crushing of the warts to stimulate the immune system.

Another type of papilloma is a skin wart that is more common in older dogs. These are usually solitary and not caused by a virus. These bumps may have a hardened surface that looks like a cauliflower. An inverted papilloma may also be seen in young adult dogs, especially on the lower abdomen. If the growth bothers the pet, surgical removal is an option.

Skin Tag

A skin tag grows in places where a dog’s skin rubs together. They are overgrowths of the connective tissue in the skin. They are the same color as the skin but extend out from the surface on thin stalks.

Skin tags are common in older dogs and certain breeds. No treatment is needed, but these can be surgically removed if they are bothersome.

Sebaceous Gland Tumor

A sebaceous gland tumor is commonly found in older dogs. They are typically smaller than a pea and may develop in any location. Some will bleed or secrete a material that forms a crust. Large breeds often form these on their head, specifically their eyelids, and they may be black in color. Treatment is not necessary, but surgical removal may be considered when the growth is bothersome.


A meibomian gland tumor is a slow-growing benign lump that forms in the meibomian gland at the edge of the eyelid. The tumor can stick out or grow into the eyelid. They may become inflamed, irritated, painful, or ulcerated. They may also cause inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva.

Large tumors may cause problems when your dog blinks, because they cause extra tearing and tear staining. They are diagnosed by their appearance and location, and they can be removed with surgery, or the tissue can be frozen for removal. They rarely grow back after removal, but  regrowth is possible.


An epulis is a common benign growth found in the mouth of dogs. They may form when a tooth rubs against the gums, as with an underbite in brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds.

These smooth, fleshy, pink bumps grow on the gum tissue near the outer surface of an incisor, canine, or premolar tooth. They can appear to grow on a stalk of tissue, like a mushroom, or as an unmoving mass, and they may have a bony interior. Certain types can invade surrounding bony tissue.

Diagnosis of an epulis is made by recognizing it from appearance and confirming with a biopsy. An x-ray of your dog’s head will show if it has invaded surrounding tissues. These growths should be removed surgically, along with the adjacent tooth and any bony tissue that may be affected. They do not usually regrow if the entire tumor is removed. Radiation therapy may help cases where the growth is inoperable.

Follicular Cysts

Follicular cysts are large, benign bumps on the skin that grow up from the hair follicle. They may release a thick material that is white, yellow, or brown when you push on them. As they get bigger, they can become itchy or painful.

These types of cysts are diagnosed on physical examination and may be confirmed with microscopic examination of a small sample of cells aspirated with a needle. Follicular cysts may become infected and require antibiotic treatment. If they are growing or become painful, they may be surgically removed and should not regrow.

Perianal Adenomas

Perianal adenomas are benign growths common in older, unneutered male dogs. They grow from oil glands near the anus but can also occur in similar glands along the abdomen, on the back, and near the tail.

These commonly show up as multiple small lumps. Larger tumors may develop bleeding ulcerations and can compress the anal canal, making it difficult for your dog to poop.

Almost all male dogs are cured by castration alone, but large or ulcerated tumors may also be surgically removed. Females improve with surgical removal, but the growths often recur. Laser surgery or freezing the growth may be necessary to avoid fecal incontinence when surgery involves the anal sphincter.


Hemangiomas are benign tumors that occur in adult dogs and closely resemble blood vessels. You usually see them on a dog’s legs and trunk. They may be single growths or multiple, compressible, reddish-black circular lumps that can resemble a blood blister. Some may become large and even ulcerate. The recommended treatment is surgical removal.


A nevus is a dark raised or flat benign growth on the skin, commonly called a mole. These are found on areas prone to trauma, such as the legs, head, and neck, usually in older dogs. Treatment is surgical removal.


Trichoepitheliomas are small, benign lumps that pop up from the hair follicles of adult dogs. They are cyst-like and filled with condensed, yellow, cheesy, granular material. They can occur anywhere on the body, but especially on the face and trunk. Treatment is surgical removal, but they are likely to continue to form at other locations, even after surgery.

Cornifying epitheliomas

Cornifying epitheliomas are benign growths that stick up from the skin surface and look like horns. They arise from hair follicles and may form anywhere on a dog’s body, but they are more common on the back, tail, and legs of adult dogs. No treatment is necessary unless there is evidence of self-trauma, ulceration, or secondary infection. Surgical removal is the ideal treatment.

Basal Cell Tumors

Basal cell tumors are benign growths that develop on the head, ears, neck, and forelimbs of older dogs. They are raised swellings that are typically firm, solitary, dome-shaped, and small. Some may be hairless, ulcerated, and stick out like stalks from the surface of the skin. They are dark in color and may form cysts that break open and drain fluid or pus. Treatment is surgical removal, especially when the dog is uncomfortable.

Malignant Tumors

Malignant tumors are cancerous growths that can invade tissue and spread to organs.


Angiosarcomas are highly malignant blood vessel tumors that may vary in appearance. One or more red lumps in the skin or underlying soft tissue are commonly seen, but they may also appear as a poorly defined bruise.

All types grow rapidly and destroy surrounding tissue. They also spread to the lungs and liver. Angiosarcomas may occur in response to sun exposure in dog breeds with short, white coats, but dogs with dark, thick coats can develop them as well.

They usually form on the underside of the trunk, hip, thigh, and lower legs. A biopsy is required for a diagnosis. Freezing and laser surgery can help control smaller surface tumors. Surgical removal is needed for tumors below the skin’s surface. Chemotherapy may also be recommended to treat any remaining tumor cells.

Basal Cell Carcinomas

Basal cell carcinomas are flattened or raised growths that appear anywhere on the body of an older dog. They may spread to surrounding skin, forming new ulcerations, but they rarely spread to other organs. Surgical removal is recommended, including enough skin around the tumor to ensure that no tumor cells remain.


Liposarcomas are rare but may develop in older male dogs on the chest and legs. They can be soft or firm lumps that are slow to spread to other locations. Treatment is surgical removal, but recurrence is common. If this happens, radiation treatment may also be required.


Lymphosarcoma rarely develops directly on a dog’s skin but may be seen as a surface tumor or along with internal tumors. It can look like flaky skin, red patches, raised and ulcerated areas, or lumps deep within the skin.

There are two forms of skin lymphosarcoma that differ in their expected progression and response to treatment, so it is important to determine which type your dog has early on. Treatments include surgical removal, chemotherapy, and radiation, done separately or combined. These treatments may improve the signs of the disease but do not lengthen the dog’s life expectancy.

Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cell tumors are the most common malignant tumor seen in dogs. They often affect older dogs but can occur in dogs of any age.

They develop solitary growths anywhere on the body, especially the limbs, lower abdomen, and chest. Larger or rapidly growing tumors and those in certain locations are more likely to spread. Their appearance can greatly vary, but most are raised and either soft or firm to the touch.

Your vet will need to examine a sample of cells from the growth under a microscope to confirm a diagnosis. There is variation on how aggressive these tumors are. Surgical removal is necessary. If the tumor regrows or spreads, other treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, may be used.

Malignant Melanomas

Malignant melanomas are another type of skin tumor of older dogs. They commonly develop on the lips, mouth, and nail beds of male dogs. They appear as raised, ulcerated lumps and may be dark, light gray, or pink. If they appear in the nail bed, the toe is often swollen.

These tumors grow quickly and may spread quickly to other organs. Complete surgical removal is the preferred treatment, but it may be difficult and involves removal of adjacent tissue to prevent recurrence. Chemotherapy and radiation are not effective treatment options. A vaccine is available that helps shrink the size of the tumor, which may prolong your dog’s life expectancy.


Fibrosarcomas are common, fast-growing malignant tumors in dogs. Most are on the trunk and legs and vary in appearance and size. Those under the skin’s surface appear lumpy, while those deep under the skin may be firm and fleshy.

They can invade underlying muscles, but most do not spread to other areas of the body. Treatment consists of surgical removal, though complete removal may not be possible, and regrowth is common. Fibrosarcomas may also be treated with radiation and chemotherapy.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Squamous cell carcinomas can be found in two places on a dog: on the surface of the skin or under a nail. Most appear as firm, raised, irregular, and ulcerated areas. Many are solitary, but areas of prolonged sun exposure may produce multiple tumors. These growths invade surrounding tissues. Some are slow to spread, while others grow more rapidly. Treatment involves complete surgical removal of the tumor along with some normal tissue.

What to Do If You Find a Lump or Bump on Your Dog

When you find a growth on your dog, have your vet do a physical exam. It’s helpful to note the location of the lesion, how long it’s been there, any changes that have occurred since you first noticed it, and whether your dog seems bothered by the growth.

How Vets Diagnose Lumps, Bumps, and Cysts on Dogs

A sample of cells may need to be taken and evaluated under a microscope for a diagnosis. This can come from taking an impression of the surface of the growth, using a syringe and small needle to withdraw a small sample of cells in the exam room (fine needle aspiration), or surgically removing a small tissue sample (biopsy) while your dog is under local or general anesthesia.

Most veterinarians evaluate impression smears or fine needle aspirates by staining the slide and examining it under a microscope in the veterinary office. Trained veterinary pathologists are available to analyze these same samples or small tissue samples to determine a diagnosis. Then your vet can determine the appropriate treatment recommendations and explain the expected outcome.

Treatment for Dog Lumps, Bumps, and Cysts on Dogs

Options for treatment of a growth on a dog may include:

Monitoring for changes

Removal by freezing or laser treatments

Surgical removal of the lump with or without also removing some normal tissue



How to Monitor Your Dog’s Lumps and Bumps

Keep a log where you write down when you first noticed the lumps and/or bumps, how many there are and where they are located, the size, color, and texture, whether it’s moveable or seems to be fixed to underlying tissue, and whether there is any discharge present. Take pictures and note any changes from day to day in any of these factors.

Make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible and bring your log and photos along with any questions you may have.


What does a sebaceous cyst on a dog look like?

A sebaceous cyst is a smooth, raised swelling that contains sebum from the oil glands associated with hair follicles. They can become infected and inflamed and may rupture, secreting a thin, yellowish discharge.

What can you do for a dog with a sebaceous cyst?

A sebaceous cyst should be observed for changes in size or material within the cyst. The cyst may break open from being scratched and release a fluid-like material. This should be gently cleaned with warm water and then allowed to dry. Any sign of infection or sensitivity in the area should be evaluated by a veterinarian for treatment recommendations and possibly surgical removal.

How do I get rid of bumps on my dog?

The safest way to remove bumps from a dog’s skin is to have a veterinarian diagnose the type of bump. Then they will determine an appropriate plan for surgical removal using local or general anesthesia.

Can a bug bite cause a bump on a dog?

Yes, a bug bite may cause a temporary swelling on a dog. These may be itchy as well. Growths are usually more defined and rarely regress but remain the same or grow larger over time.

Is a belly lump normal after a dog spay?

No. A belly lump may indicate a reaction to a buried suture, or rarely, a hernia of the abdominal wall. Contact your vet if your dog has a lump in their belly after being spayed.

Should I have my dog’s lump removed?

This would depend on the type of lump that it is. Many benign growths do not need to be removed. However, if the growth changes in appearance, bothers the dog, or interferes with movement, then a veterinary exam is needed to determine the appropriate treatment. For malignant growths, your vet can determine the appropriate treatment.

Featured Image: Massaini

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Teresa Manucy, DVM


Dr. Teresa Manucy is a 1997 graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an internship in small…

Why Is My Dog Itching So Much?

Itchy skin on a dog, also called pruritus, is a symptom of many different conditions. If your dog is itchy, they may scratch, bite, or lick an area repeatedly, or it may seem like their whole body is itchy.

Not only is this nonstop itching uncomfortable for your dog, but it can cause infections if your dog keeps scratching and licking. Here’s what you need to know.

What to Check for if Your Dog Is Itching Constantly

If your dog has hives, a swollen face, lips, or eye, or is panting excessively, see your vet immediately. These could be signs of a severe allergic reaction.

Other than scratching, you may see these signs of itchy skin in dogs:




Hair loss

Oozing, inflamed skin


If your dog’s skin is oozing or inflamed, or if you smell a strong stench, you also need to see the vet, because these are signs of infection.

Causes of Dog Itching

There are several possible reasons why your dog is excessively itching. Common reasons may include:

Bacterial or fungal infections: Bacterial or fungal infections are a common cause of pruritus, with other symptoms including oozing, inflamed skin, a strong stench, and hair loss.

Atopic dermatitis: Also called allergic dermatitis, this is often caused by an allergen from the environment, such as from pollen, dander, and plants, so it can be seasonal.

Flea allergy dermatitis: This is a type of allergic dermatitis that occurs when fleas inject saliva into a dog’s body. The proteins within the saliva trigger the immune system, causing itching that typically lasts several days. Even one flea bite can cause a reaction.

Food allergies: Food allergies are often seen in dogs with year-round itching, and allergic reactions can be tested through a diet trial.

Diagnosing Itchy Skin in Dogs

Your vet will likely recommend a range of testing options, including skin scrapings and blood tests, to determine the underlying cause for itching in your dog.

Skin cytology (scrapings): This test involves analyzing a tissue sample under a microscope. The vet will look for mites or infections from bacteria or fungus, such as ringworm.

Intradermal testing: In this test, a veterinarian pricks the skin with a small amount of allergen. If the area swells after a half-hour, it means your pet is allergic to that substance.

Radioallergosorbent test (RAST): A blood test used to identify environmental allergens such as pollen.

Food trial: If food is a suspected allergen, then a vet may suggest a prescription diet (or food cooked at home) without any additional treats. If itchiness subsides, then food may be the culprit.

Treatment of Dog Itching

If you leave itchy skin in dogs untreated, it may lead to new problems, such as hot spots, which are areas of inflamed skin caused by excessive licking and biting. Your pet will also be uncomfortable, and the only way to stop the itching is to see a vet to find and treat the cause.

Over-the-counter treatments should only be given under the guidance of a veterinarian. Depending on the underlying condition, your vet may recommend one of the following options to help get the itching under control:

Antibiotics: In the case of bacterial and fungal infections, antibiotics may be prescribed, often taking 21 to 30 days to fully clear skin infections.

Insect control: Removing or limiting a dog’s exposure to insects can help in cases of allergic reactions to insect bites.

Prescribed diet: If food allergies are suspected, your veterinarian may recommend a special diet. This may mean trial and error to find the right food.

Steroid medications: Medications such as glucocorticoids are highly effective but can have side effects such as increased hunger and thirst; these medications are usually prescribed for short periods.

Anti-itch medication: Cyclosporine, oclacitinib, and essential fatty acids are common medications prescribed to dogs for symptom management.

Antihistamines: While using antihistamines for treating itchiness is common, studies have not established it as a reliably effective treatment for dogs.

Dog shampoos: Your vet may recommend over-the-counter dog shampoos to help with itching in the short-term.

Dog Itching FAQs

Can stress cause itching in dogs?

Yes, stress can cause short-term itching in dogs. Taking your dog for a walk or playing with them may help relieve symptoms.

How can I relieve my dog’s itching?

In addition to following your veterinarian’s recommendation for treatment, bathing your dog can help, particularly if your dog has atopic dermatitis.

Why is my dog so itchy but has no fleas?

Itchiness can be caused by infection or allergies in the air, such as pollen, dander, or plants. You may not be able to see the fleas, or a single flea bite could have caused the reaction. Taking your dog to the veterinarian will help rule out causes and provide the necessary care.


Moriello, K. Itching (pruritus) in dogs. Merck Veterinary Manual. April 2022. 

Pruritus diagnostics in dogs and cats. Veterinary Information Network. February 2020.

Featured Image: Restenko

Why Is My Dog Vomiting?

There’s nothing that can get a pet parent moving quite like the sound of a dog vomiting or about to vomit. It’s a sound that all pet parents recognize and hate to hear.

So, what causes dog vomiting?

Dogs vomit for many reasons. Some of the reasons are nothing to worry about, but sometimes, vomiting is a sign of a serious health problem that needs immediate veterinary care. 

Learning to tell the difference can be tricky, but it’s important to know why dogs vomit, when you should be concerned, and what you can do to help.

This guide will break down the causes of dog vomiting, help you identify dog vomit types, and explain what you should do and when it’s time to call a vet.

Jump to a section here:

Is It Dog Vomiting or Regurgitation?What Does Your Dog’s Vomit Look Like?Yellow VomitWhite, Foamy VomitClear, Liquid VomitMucus-Like, Slimy VomitBloody Vomit (red or pink)Brown VomitGreen VomitWorms in VomitGrass in VomitWhy Is My Dog Throwing Up?Do You Need to Go to the Vet if Your Dog Is Vomiting?What Can You Give a Dog to Stop Vomiting at Home?Dog Vomiting Treatment at the Vet’s OfficeHow to Prevent Some Cases of Dog Vomiting

Is It Dog Vomiting or Regurgitation?

One important thing to keep in mind is that dog vomiting and regurgitation are not the same thing. Think of dog vomiting as more of an “active process” and regurgitation as more of a “passive practice.”

Why do you need to know the difference? Because the causes of and treatments for the two conditions are very different, and vomiting tends to be more concerning than regurgitation.

Dog Vomiting

Vomiting occurs when the contents from the stomach and upper intestines are forcefully ejected. Dog vomit can contain yellow bile or dog food that has been partially digested, and it usually smells sour.

Vomiting may occur directly after eating or anytime thereafter. It’s usually preceded by signs of nausea, such as drooling, licking the lips, and swallowing excessively.

Some dogs may eat grass before or after they vomit, possibly to induce vomiting or protect the esophagus, because grass can cover sharp objects like bone shards when the dog vomits. it is a good idea to prevent them from eating a large amount, or it may make matters worse. 

They might also eat their own vomit. This is an instinct that dogs have that is very unappealing to us as humans, but it’s not a big problem for dogs.

Because vomiting causes dehydration, your dog might try to gulp down a whole bowl of water after vomiting. This may trigger more vomiting, so try to limit their water consumption to small amounts at a time. 

Regurgitation in Dogs

Regurgitation, on the other hand, is a mild ejection of undigested food from the dog’s esophagus, meaning that it never made it to the stomach. A major difference is that regurgitation doesn’t involve abdominal heaving.

It tends to happen shortly after eating—maybe your dog ate too much or ate too fast. Or your dog could be overly excited or stressed out.

What Does Your Dog’s Vomit Look Like?

Once you’re pretty sure that your dog is vomiting and not regurgitating, you can identify the type of vomit by the appearance of it. What the vomit looks like can help determine the causes of vomiting in dogs.

Yellow Vomit

Yellow vomit is very common when a dog has an empty stomach, and the yellow color that you see is due to bile secretions. This occurs most commonly in the middle of the night or early morning hours.

It can be caused by acid buildup, reflux, or any other systemic condition that causes nausea on an empty stomach.

White, Foamy Vomit

Vomit that is white and looks foamy can be caused by a buildup of stomach acid. The foamy appearance may be caused by the vomit coming into contact with the air or being sloshed around in the stomach before the vomiting occurs.

Clear, Liquid Vomit

If your dog is vomiting a clear liquid, it can either be caused by stomach secretions or when there is water pooling in the stomach that comes up by itself when vomited.

Often, this happens when a dog drinks while feeling nauseous and can’t even keep the water down. 

Mucus-Like, Slimy Vomit

Slimy vomit that looks like mucus occurs when a dog is drooling and it pools in the stomach in response to some major irritation. The dog relieves their nausea when they vomit up the mucus. 

Bloody Vomit (Red or Pink)

Blood in a dog’s vomit should always be taken seriously.

Blood itself causes nausea, so it is often vomited up if it pools in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If the color does not progress to red, and the vomiting is not prolonged or profuse, the pink tinge is not always a sign of an urgent situation.

However, if there are blood clots, fresh blood, or a coffee-ground appearance to the vomit, these things could indicate bleeding into the stomach or upper small intestine.

Bleeding can be a result of an ulcer, a tumor, lack of clotting, or eating rat poison. All of these conditions need treatment as soon as possible in a veterinary hospital. 

Brown Vomit

Brown vomit could just be regurgitated food from the esophagus that never made it to the stomach to be digested. Also, it can indicate that a dog ate too quickly and didn’t chew the food, or swallowed a lot of air by gulping it down.

But although brown vomit may look like it’s just regurgitated kibbles, sometimes, there can be more to it. It’s best to inspect the vomit to try to determine the nature of the contents.

Traces of blood can appear brown at times if they are not profusely bloody. Brown vomit can also be an indicator of coprophagia (eating poop). 

Green Vomit

Green vomit can be caused by eating grass. It can also be due to a contraction of the gall bladder before vomiting (usually on an empty stomach), resulting in bile in the stomach. 

Worms in Vomit 

Worms and other infectious organisms can cause vomiting in dogs. If there are live worms or a large infestation, such as with roundworms, a dog may vomit them up. (More commonly, they will shed eggs that can be found in the feces, and that is the only way to diagnose them.)

Grass in Vomit

Grass is a common ingredient in dog vomit.

Dogs often eat grass when they have an upset stomach, which can sometimes induce vomiting. If they are eating grass on a regular basis, however, it is a possibility that they can be ingesting more pesticides and parasites. 

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Why Is My Dog Throwing Up?

There is no catchall answer for why a dog is vomiting.

Different ages, breeds, and behaviors can make dogs more prone to vomiting.

There can be external causes or internal causes, and there are many factors, including the duration, color, severity, etc., that can Influence how to respond to the vomiting.

Here is a list of possible causes of vomiting in dogs, whether it’s acute (one-time, sudden instance) or chronic (happens often over time):

Abrupt diet change

Addison’s disease


Brain tumor



Diabetes mellitus

Drinking contaminated water

Eating grass (which can be caused by something else)

Eating poop (coprophagia)

Eating too fast

Exercising after eating

Food allergies or intolerance

Gastritis or an upset stomach from eating garbage or spoiled food

Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestinal tract)

Gastrointestinal ulcers

Head trauma, drug side effects

Heat stroke

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis

Infections (bacterial, viral, or fungal)

Inflammatory bowel disease

Ingestion of toxic plants or other toxins

Intestinal obstruction from a foreign body

Intestinal parasites

Kidney disease

Liver disease



Middle ear problem

Motion sickness from riding in the car



Reaction to a medication

Acute Dog Vomiting 

Acute vomiting is something that comes on all of the sudden and has not been going on for a long time. 

Here are some reasons why a dog may suffer from acute vomiting:

Eating Something Bad

Dietary indiscretion is something that is more common in younger dogs. From getting into the trash to eating a poisonous outdoor plant, you will usually know very quickly that your dog is sick.

If they eat an object that bounces around in their stomach but doesn’t cause an obstruction, this could turn into a chronic condition if you don’t know it is in there.

If the food they get ahold of is super fatty, it can lead to another serious stomach issue called pancreatitis.

Contagious Diseases 

Dog vomiting can be caused by certain contagious diseases as well, which are also more common in younger dogs. 

One of the causes of a dog vomiting from a contagious disease is parvovirus, which can be very serious. It’s most common in puppies that are around other dogs in group settings.

Certain breeds may be more susceptible to parvovirus, including Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and sled dogs.

Intestinal Parasites

Parasites can also cause vomiting in a dog.

Often, the dog is carrying the parasite and we don’t know it. Then, all of the sudden, they may start showing symptoms such as vomiting.

Sometimes, the actual worm is vomited up, and more often, we don’t see the worm but the eggs that can be detected in the stool sample. 

Contaminated Water

Drinking out of puddles and community drinking bowls can cause some bacterial imbalances that may cause stomach upset in dogs.

Drinking out of lakes with cyanobacterium (blue-green algae) can be deadly. The dog may first develop vomiting, but severe cases can progress to neurologic signs and death.


Vomiting can be caused by bloat. Bloat or gastric dilatation and volvulus is an acute and life-threatening condition requiring patients to be hospitalized and aggressively treated.

If the stomach fills with air and then twists on itself, it can cut off the circulation and cause the dog to go into shock. 

It is most common in large-breed and deep-chested dogs, including German Shepherds, Great Danes, Standard Poodles, and Labrador and Golden Retrievers.

Eating or drinking excessively or quickly can be a factor in developing bloat.

Chronic Dog Vomiting

A chronic condition is one that goes on for a long time, and can be constant or every so often.

Chronic dog vomiting can be frustrating if you don’t know the underlying cause. Some dogs are prone to vomiting on a regular basis. Chronic vomiting in young dogs is often due to parasites or a food sensitivity. It can also be caused by certain diseases or health issues.

Bloodwork, X-rays, ultrasounds, or biopsies are often necessary to diagnose the problem.

Here are some of the common causes of chronic vomiting in dogs.


Megaesophagus, which is a generalized enlargement of the esophagus, can be caused by a number of conditions that can affect dogs of all ages.

Some dogs can be born with the condition because that is just how their esophagus is formed. Other dogs acquire it over their lifetime due to conditions such as Addison’s disease, myasthenia gravis, or hypothyroidism.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Chronic vomiting also can be caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). As the name implies, one may associate IBD with lower GI symptoms, but in fact, sometimes vomiting is the main symptom. 


We mentioned pancreatitis as a common acute cause of vomiting in dogs. However, some dogs suffer from chronic pancreatitis, which makes them prone to vomiting on an ongoing basis.

These dogs need to be fed a very low-fat diet without exception.

Schnauzers, Shetland Sheepdogs,  Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, and Bichon Frisés are genetically prone to chronic pancreatitis, which can also lead to diabetes.

Do You Need to Go to the Vet if Your Dog Is Vomiting?

The most important thing to determine is when it’s necessary to bring your dog to the vet, and when it’s okay to try a home remedy or just wait for the vomiting to pass.  

If the vomiting has been going on for less than 12 hours, and your dog is perky and keeping down food and water, then it may be okay to wait and monitor the situation. 

One of the biggest dangers with dog vomiting is dehydration. When a dog becomes dehydrated, essential body functions start to break down.

It’s time to call and visit your vet if your dog:

Is a puppy (can become weak from dehydration or have hypoglycemia if they can’t keep calories down)

Is geriatric

Is projectile vomiting (potential sign of obstruction)

Tries to vomit or dry-heaving and nothing comes out (symptom of bloat, which can be life-threatening)

Vomits blood

Vomits pieces of a foreign object or an entire object

Is lethargic (sign that the whole body is affected)

Is urinating less (sign of dehydration)

Has a tender or enlarged abdomen (seen with more serious causes of vomiting)

Refuses food

Cannot hold down small amounts of water

Is showing signs of dehydration (the skin doesn’t snap back into place after being gently pulled; dry gums)

Has diarrhea with the vomiting (can quickly lead to dehydration)

Has pre-existing medical problems

Ate people food (to determine whether it’s cause for concern)

Vomits often (chronic vomiting)

Is losing weight from vomiting often (chronic vomiting)

Is declining in their appearance and overall demeanor (including weight loss, muscle mass deterioration)

Emergency Situations

The things to watch for that would warrant an urgent visit to the vet or emergency clinic include:

Vomiting accompanied by diarrhea (especially if it turns bloody)

This indicates a situation that can quickly lead to severe dehydration that could result in a need for hospitalization.

Your dog becoming lethargic after vomiting, or vomiting with shaking

This could be a result of severe abdominal pain or cramping from electrolyte imbalances. You do not want to wait too long without veterinary attention.

Your dog eating a foreign object, a known toxin, or something you suspect may be toxic (projectile vomiting could signal eating a foreign object)

If you are unlucky enough to not stop it from going down the hatch, you can inform the vet or poison hotline right away what it was and find out what actions need to be taken.

What Can You Give a Dog to Stop Vomiting at Home?

There are some home remedies that you can try if your dog is having mild vomiting and not any of the serious symptoms mentioned earlier. 

Pepto Bismol is not a preferred treatment for dogs. The concern about Pepto Bismol is that it contains salicylic acid, which is an ingredient in aspirin. We need to use this with caution, especially in dogs taking anti-inflammatories or steroids, as it could cause GI bleeding.

Pepcid AC (famotidine) and Prilosec (omeprazole) are safer options to use to help reduce acid production and acid reflux, and these often settle their stomach. 

Dog Vomiting Treatment at the Vet’s Office

In most cases of vomiting, treatment via injection is the most effective route. It is the most reliable way to guarantee that the medicine is getting into the dog’s system and to prevent further vomiting. Often, a dog will vomit up a pill, and it can’t help them if they can’t keep it down. 

Medications to Stop Nausea and Vomiting

Cerenia (maropitant citrate) is the most commonly used antiemetic (medication that stops vomiting) for dogs in recent years. It acts on a trigger zone in the brain to stop nausea, and also acts on receptors in the stomach.

Vets will often start your dog with an injection of Cerenia and then follow up with pills every 24 hours for a couple of days to make sure the vomiting has been resolved.

Reglan (metoclopramide) is less widely used but is still very helpful for motility disorders in dogs as well as megaesophagus.

Zofran (ondansetron) is also an antiemetic that’s used in a hospital setting. 

In addition to these measures, the veterinarian may also recommend feeding your dog a bland or easily digestible diet.

How to Prevent Some Cases of Dog Vomiting

Many causes of dog vomiting cannot be prevented, but some can be if you follow these rules:

Don’t change your dog’s diet suddenly. Always use a gradual approach. Sudden dietary changes are a common cause of intestinal upset in dogs.

Don’t give your dog toys that can be swallowed or chewed into pieces, thereby causing GI irritation or blockage.

Don’t give your dog bones. These, too, are routinely implicated in vomiting episodes.

Avoid table scraps. Some human foods are downright dangerous for dogs (e.g., grapes, raisins, chocolate, xylitol, onions, garlic, chives, macadamia nuts, and high-fat items), but individuals with sensitive stomachs may not even be able to eat “safe” human foods without vomiting.

Don’t let your dog scavenge for food on walks or by having access to garbage cans. “Garbage gut” is what veterinarians commonly call the gastroenteritis caused by consuming scavenged items. Scavenging also increases the risk of foreign-body ingestion and toxin exposure.

Watch overly inquisitive dogs carefully. You might even want to try to use a muzzle to keep them from eating anything they might find along your walks.

Featured Image:

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Stephanie Lantry, DVM


Dr. Lantry is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin native. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian and worked towards that…