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Gross But True: Uncover Why Dogs Really Eat Their Own Vomit

Playing a fun game of catch is a great bonding experience with your dog. Mid-game, your dog might just stop in their tracks and throw up. Not only throw up but throw up and then proceed to eat it. Dogs are adorable, but sometimes they do some not-so-adorable things like eating their own vomit.

It is an odd thing that almost all dogs do, and it can have dog owners thoroughly perplexed. Even with your dog eating the best natural dog food, they can still throw their food up. So why do domestic dogs eat their vomit? Dogs vomit for a host of reasons and it’s important to know why when they do.

The most important answer to seek, before finding out why dogs eat their own vomit, is why they are vomiting. If it’s a serious cause, then you should take them to the vet. If it’s not for serious reasons then just monitor them.

Find out some of the possible reasons for why dogs eat their own vomit in the first place and if pet parents should be worried about it.

fluffy white dog on toilet

Is It Bad If a Dog Eats Its Own Vomit?

Yes, it can be harmful to your dog to eat their own vomit. However, they also regurgitate their food and then eat it. Eating regurgitated food isn’t harmful to them at all. So, a distinction needs to be made between vomit and regurgitation.

Is It Vomit Or Regurgitation?

Vomit and regurgitation often look the same, but there are key differences in both to look out for. Whether you should be worried or not depends on if it’s actually vomit and the reason your dog is vomiting.


Regurgitation is the process of expelling food from the esophagus. Sometimes dogs will regurgitate if they’ve eaten solid food too fast or cannot swallow whatever they’ve eaten. It doesn’t hurt the dog in any way and is a normal thing to do.

Because the food was intercepted from making it all the way to the stomach, it hasn’t been digested yet. This is how you see if it’s regurgitation or vomit.


Vomit is digested food that comes from the stomach and upper intestines. Monitor your dog’s vomit to see if anything serious is wrong with them. Different types of vomit can give us an indication of what might possibly be wrong. Luckily, unlike with regurgitation, there are some warning signs dogs display to tell you they’re about to vomit:

  • Nausea or drooling
  • Retching
  • Contracting of the abdomen
fluffy white dog with vomit why do dogs eat their vomit

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Vomit?

To you, it might seem gross that a dog would want to eat their own vomit, but there is a good reason why they do it. Their smell receptors are 50 times stronger than a human being. Meaning, they can recognize many more smells that you can’t.

Dogs eat their own vomit because they still see it as food. Their superior smell receptors allow them to recognize that there are still nutritious food particles in there and that seems tasty to them. Sometimes, dogs smell their vomit and move along. The underlying cause could be that your furry friend doesn’t sense any nutritional value in eating it because there is almost no undigested food left in it.

Should I Let My Dog Eat Their Own Vomit?

Dogs sometimes eat their own vomit because to them, it still smells tasty. But, just because it’s tasty, doesn’t always mean that they should eat it.

Is It Normal?

Dogs eating their vomit is very normal. When dogs are still puppies, they drink from their mother dogs. By three weeks old, as they start weaning from natural milk to food solids, their moms will chew food and regurgitate it. This is so that the food is easily digestible for the puppies and easier to eat. This is natural behavior and a standard survival instinct. As dogs grow up, there is a good chance they won’t grow out of this habit.

Is It Healthy?

Eating regurgitated food won’t pose any medical conditions. Dogs eat regurgitated food because it is now easier and softer to chew. If your dog is regurgitating because they eat too fast, there are products available to help them, like slow feeder bowls. These fun-looking bowls have ridges in them that help your dog eat their food slower.

Eating vomit, on the other hand, is not a good idea. The food is ejected from their stomach, which means it is mixed with high levels of stomach acid. Eating their vomit with this acid can cause damage to their tooth enamel and esophageal lining.

Should You Stop Your Dog from Eating Their Own Vomit?

Yes, it’s best to remove your dog from their vomit so they don’t consume the stomach acid again. Dogs also vomit if they’ve swallowed something toxic to them, like foods that they’re intolerant to. Redirecting them away from their vomit prevents them from ingesting toxic substances again. After a few times of you directing them away from their vomit, they’ll learn not to eat it.

Why Is My Dog Vomiting?

It’s important to monitor your dogs after they’ve thrown up to see how they’re doing afterward. Dogs can vomit for many reasons, but it’s usually for minor reasons and they can go about their day like normal. Here are a few common causes of why your dog’s vomiting.

Motion sickness

Dogs, like humans, can experience car or motion sickness. Car sickness more commonly happens with puppies or young dogs and causes an upset stomach. The best way to prevent car sickness is to make them comfortable driving around with you. Sometimes medications that can be given include vet-recommended calming chews, but it isn’t always necessary.


Dogs swallow unchewed blades of grass to induce vomiting or regurgitation. Some dogs vomit from eating grass, but not all. If they do vomit from eating grass, they’ll instinctively eat it if something is stuck in their throats or they’ve swallowed something that makes them ill. The long blades of grass tickle the back of their throats, triggering their gag reflex and causing vomiting.

dog in the grass

Food Allergies

Your dog might vomit if they have any kind of food allergies. If that is the case, there are wonderful brands out there that allow you to get the best dog foods for allergies. You can fix allergy problems with a change in diet, but be careful when changing it, as that can cause its own digestive problems.

Change in Diet

Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken and only change your dog’s diet if absolutely necessary. An abrupt change in diet can mess up your dog’s stomach. Their stomachs might have trouble digesting new foods or have an intolerance to it. Sometimes dogs scavenge in the garbage and eat odd things which could also disrupt their stomachs.

Stress and Anxiety

A stressed or anxious dog can be so overwhelmed that they throw up. When dogs are in stressful environments, they can’t tell you that they’re stressed. They can only communicate it to you through body language or their behavior.

When Should You Be Worried? 5 Signs

If your dog vomits, keep an eye on them to make sure they’re okay. If they throw up more than once a day or frequently throughout the following days, then it’s time to take them to a vet.

1. Puppy vomiting

It is very dangerous for a puppy to constantly vomit. Their bodies are small and still developing. They need all of the nutrients they can get to grow. If they haven’t received their vaccinations yet, they are at special risk of infection. If they’re vomiting more than once, it can be a symptom of an underlying illness. It’s best to take them to a vet if they are throwing up often.

2. Dehydration

Dogs can vomit if they haven’t drunk water for a while and are dehydrated. It is especially important that your dog has a constant supply of cool, clean water during hot weather.

It’s essential to know how long a dog can go without water so you can avoid this problem. But note that vomiting is only a symptom of dehydration. Severe dehydration can lead to your dog needing serious medical attention.

3. Swallowed a toy

Dogs love to play, but sometimes they play a little too hard. Sometimes they accidentally swallow a toy or a piece of a toy. To try and get it out of their esophagus they might try to regurgitate or throw up to dislodge it.

If they can get it out then that’s great, but sometimes they need a little help. If you suspect your dog swallowed a foreign object and they can’t dislodge it themselves, take them to the vet. Find out the best toys to keep dogs busy so you can find a toy that’s safe for them to play with.

sick brown dog

4. Medication

Some medications can disagree with your dog’s digestive system. Vomiting and diarrhea are common side effects of many medications for both humans and dogs. Oral medications are swallowed and travel to a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Once in there, it can upset their stomachs and induce vomiting.

CBD oils for dogs are wonderful in restoring dogs’ appetite and have anti-inflammatory properties. It is 100% safe to use on animals in a controlled capacity. It takes a lot of CBD oil to cause an overdose, but if it does occur it can induce vomiting.

5. Bloating

Bloating happens if a dog exercises after a meal or after drinking a lot of water. The excessive amount of food or water in the stomach presses against the diaphragm and causes bloating and vomiting. Bloating can become dangerous if the stomach fills with air and twists on itself. Allow your dog to rest right after eating before playing catch to avoid this problem.

It is more common in large breeds with deep chests like Great Danes, Boxers, and Doberman Pinschers. While it is more common in big dogs, smaller dogs can experience bloating too.

Why Dogs Eat Their Vomit

In short, dogs eat their vomit because it still smells like food tasty enough to eat. Dogs eating their vomit is a natural instinct, but whether it’s safe or healthy is another debate. It is a habit they picked up when they were puppies by eating their mom’s regurgitated food. Eating regurgitated food as an adult dog is okay because it hasn’t been digested yet and hasn’t been mixed with stomach acid.

Food that’s already been digested and expelled (aka vomit) is not safe for your dog to eat and can cause health issues. Stomach acid is harmful to your dog when it’s anywhere but their stomachs. It’s best to move your dog away from their vomit so they learn not to eat it again and to prevent medical issues.

Dogs do many odd and gross things according to humans. The best thing we can do is try to understand them. When we know why they do the things they do, we can start to look after them better.

I covered all of the costs associated with writing this post on why dogs eat their vomit. However, it does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in this article and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission. It won’t affect the price that you pay. Just wanted to let you know.

labrador with toilet rolls

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