Dogs Who Vomit At Night

Although there are many causes of vomiting in the dog, I would like to discuss a common one that is often overlooked.  Bilious vomiting syndrome occurs when stomach acid and bile accumulate in the stomach.  If the dog does not eat soon, they will vomit the excess fluid.  This often occurs right before the next meal when the dog is at maximum hunger.  The most  common time is during early morning hours.  Their exhausted owner’s tell me they are awaken at night by the enticing sound of their dog vomiting.  Yellow fluid tinged with foam blankets the floor.

When I am confronted with one of these cases, I always ask the owner a set of detailed questions.  How often is the dog fed?  Does the dog pick at its dinner or devour it?  When are the meals served?  What kind of food are you using?  Any other medical problems?  How much exercise does the dog get?  In most of these cases, the dogs are good eaters with no other health problems.  They eat twice a day, once in the morning and once at night when their human family eats dinner.  

The treatment for this condition is simple.  As an added bonus, your dog will love you for it!  The prescription is to give the dog a bedtime snack.  As food is passed through the stomach into the intestines, it takes the acid with it.  As a result, the dog sleeps through the night without problems.  Often a piece of bread or a handful of kibble is enough to do the trick. 

If that doesn’t work after a few days, I recommend a full workup to rule out other causes.  Unfortunately, BVS may sometime be an indicator of other gastrointestinal disease.  Often endoscopy of the stomach with biopsy is the only way to make an accurate diagnosis.  Fortunately for some friends of mine in Montana, the nightly snack did the trick.  I hope it will for your pet as well.    


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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