Dog morning sickness causes symptoms and prevention

Dog Morning Sickness: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

When a dog vomits in a morning, an empty stomach, excess acid and an irritated stomach lining are the most common culprits. Morning sickness is reported for various diets including raw dog food, dry dog food and wet dog food.

By adjusting a dog’s feeding schedule or supplying some small treats before bedtimes, morning vomiting can be alleviated.  In severe or prolonged cases it is worth consulting a veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.

Table of Contents

Why does my dog vomit in the morning?

There are 7 main causes of dogs vomiting in a morning.

  1. Empty stomach: When a dog’s stomach is empty in the morning, bile accumulates and irritates the stomach lining, leading to vomiting. Hunger-related nausea and vomiting in dogs is commonly referred to as bilious vomiting syndrome. A small meal or snack before bedtime can help alleviate this issue.
  2. Eating too fast: If a dog eats too quickly, they can swallow air along with their food, causing an upset stomach and vomiting. A slow feeder bowl or dividing meals into smaller portions will slow down eating.
  3. Dietary intolerance or sensitivity: Some dogs have trouble digesting certain ingredients in their food, which leads to gastrointestinal upset and vomiting.
  4. Gastritis: Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining and can result in vomiting. It is caused by various factors, including ingestion of inappropriate items, infections, stress, or underlying health conditions. If vomiting persists or is accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or diarrhoea, it's important to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
  5. Bile Reflux: Bile is a digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Dogs can experience bile reflux, which is the reverse flow of bile from the intestines back into the stomach causing irritation and vomiting, especially in the morning when the stomach is empty.
  6. Acid Reflux: Similar to humans, dogs can experience acid reflux, which is the backward flow of stomach acid into the oesophagus. Acid reflux can be more noticeable in the morning when the stomach is empty, and the acid has nothing to digest, causing discomfort and potential vomiting.
  7. Health Issues: Certain medical conditions cause morning vomiting in dogs. These include gastrointestinal infections, pancreatitis, kidney disease, liver disease, or other underlying health problems. If your dog continues to vomit regularly, it's important to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Can hunger cause nausea and vomiting in dogs?

Hunger itself does not directly cause nausea and vomiting in dogs. However, there are certain mechanisms related to hunger that can contribute to these symptoms.

  • Increased stomach acid:¬†When a dog's stomach is empty, it can lead to an accumulation of gastric acid. Excess stomach acid without food to digest causes irritation of the stomach lining and this can cause dogs to vomit from hunger.
  • Hunger contractions:¬†When a dog is hungry, hunger contractions (also known as hunger pangs) occur in the stomach. These contractions can contribute to feelings of discomfort or queasiness, which manifests as nausea.¬†

How to prevent vomiting in dogs due to hunger

There are 4 main preventative measures to make to alleviate hunger-related vomiting in dogs.

  • Adjust feeding schedule:¬†For dogs experiencing hunger-related vomiting in the morning, adjust their feeding schedule. Splitting their daily food portion into multiple smaller meals throughout the day ensures the stomach is not empty for prolonged periods.
  • Provide a bedtime snack:¬†Giving a small, easily digestible snack before bedtime will help prevent the stomach from being completely empty in the morning. A small portion of their daily food allowance can be used.
  • Use slow-feeders:¬†For dogs that eat their meals quickly, using a slow-feeder or puzzle feeder prolongs mealtime and prevents them from consuming food too rapidly. This aids better digestion and reduces hunger-related vomiting.
  • Feed a balanced diet:¬†Feeding a nutritionally balanced and appropriate diet for the age and health condition of a dog promotes healthy digestion including dry, wet or raw food.

slow feeders for dogs

Does feeding schedule affect dog's morning sickness?

Yes, a dog’s feeding schedule can affect a dog's morning sickness or vomiting in 3 ways.

  1. Hyperacidity: (also known as acid reflux) If a dog has 12 hours or more between feeds, the acid in the stomach can build up so much that they will vomit white or yellow foam before breakfast is given.
  2. Empty stomach: After an extended period with an empty stomach, such as overnight, the accumulation of stomach acid can lead to irritation and nausea. When a dog then eats breakfast, the introduction of food can trigger vomiting.
  3. Feeding too early: Feeding a dog too early in the morning, especially if they wake up with an empty stomach, causes a sudden influx of food into the stomach which induces vomiting in some dogs.

Does skipping meals lead to hunger-induced vomiting in dogs?

Skipping meals can contribute to hunger-induced vomiting in dogs. When a dog's stomach is empty for an extended period, gastric acid builds up, which leads to irritation of the stomach lining. This irritation, combined with increased gastric contractions and stomach sensitivity, can trigger the vomiting reflex.

It’s important to note that not all dogs will vomit when meals are skipped, and individual dogs will vary in their sensitivity to an empty stomach. Some dogs have a higher tolerance for fasting, while others may be more prone to experiencing hunger-induced vomiting.

Whilst occasional meal skipping will not have a significant impact on most dogs, frequent or prolonged fasting increases the likelihood of hunger-induced vomiting. It's recommended to establish a regular feeding schedule for dogs to provide consistent nutrition and prevent excessive fasting periods.

If a dog tends to vomit when meals are skipped or if they have a sensitive stomach, it is beneficial to adjust their feeding routine. This involves dividing their daily food portion into multiple smaller meals throughout the day or using slow-feeders to prolong mealtime and slow down their eating pace. 

Can anxiety or stress cause dog's morning sickness?

Whilst not one of the most common causes of morning sickness in dogs, it is possible.

There are 4 main considerations to help manage anxiety-related morning sickness in dogs.

  1. Identify and address the underlying cause: Determine the source of a dog's anxiety or stress and take steps to alleviate it. Separation anxiety, environmental change and fear of certain stimuli are all triggers. Consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviourist if needed.
  2. Create a calm environment: Provide a quiet and safe space where they can relax and feel secure. Use calming aids such as pheromone diffusers or calming music specifically designed for dogs.
  3. Regular exercise and mental stimulation: Engage in regular exercise and mental enrichment activities. Physical activity and mental stimulation reduces anxiety and promotes overall well-being.
  4. Behaviour modification techniques: Work with a professional dog trainer or behaviourist to implement behaviour modification techniques tailored to specific anxiety triggers. These techniques help desensitise and reduce a dog’s anxiety response.

anxiety related sickness in dogs

Should I be concerned if my dog is sick only in the mornings?

It is essential to differentiate between regurgitation and vomiting

Regurgitation is a passive process where undigested food or fluids are brought up without active abdominal contractions. This occurs immediately after eating and can be a sign of esophageal issues or other conditions. Vomiting involves active abdominal contractions and is often accompanied by retching or heaving.

If a dog consistently regurgitates clear, white or yellow foamy liquid in a morning, it is most commonly associated with hunger and a phenomenon known as the ‚ÄėHunger Pukes‚Äô.

If a dog consistently vomits undigested food or blood, then it is definitely cause for concern and needs further investigation by a veterinarian.

What are the Hunger Pukes in dogs?

"Hunger pukes" is another phrase for hunger-induced vomiting in dogs and refers to vomiting or regurgitation that occurs when a dog's stomach is empty or when they haven't eaten for an extended period. When a dog's stomach is empty, the accumulation of gastric acid causes irritation and leads to vomiting. This happens in the morning if the dog hasn't eaten since the previous evening or if there is a long gap between meals.

The term "hunger pukes" is not a medical or scientific term but rather a colloquial expression to describe this phenomenon. It is important to note that not all dogs will experience vomiting or regurgitation when they are hungry, and individual dogs may vary in their sensitivity to an empty stomach.

In most cases, the sick is a clear or yellow foam which indicates that the dog's stomach is relatively empty of food.

Do raw fed dogs suffer from Hunger Pukes?

Sometimes, yes.

Raw dog food and dry dog food differ in composition and digestibility. Raw dog food is more easily and quickly digested compared to dry dog food.

Raw dog food typically consists of uncooked, whole foods, such as raw meat, organs, bones, and vegetables. These ingredients closely resemble what a dog's ancestors would have consumed in the wild. Raw food is typically less processed and contains higher moisture content, which can aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.

This means that a dog will digest raw food more efficiently and therefore have an empty stomach more quickly which can lead to hunger induced vomiting.

Do dogs fed on kibble suffer from Hunger Pukes?

Sometimes, yes.

Dry dog food, also known as kibble, undergoes a cooking and dehydration process that removes much of its moisture. The processing involved in creating kibble can make it more challenging for dogs to digest compared to raw food. Kibble often contains a combination of meat by-products, grains, and other ingredients - this is particularly common in cheaper brands.  A dog may feel fuller for longer and be unlikely to suffer from hunger pukes but often display symptoms such as smelly gas, bloating, dull coat and large amounts of soft poo. 

If you are feeding a high-quality kibble with a high meat content that is free from grains and cereals, or have recently switched to one, you may find that your dog suffers with the hunger pukes initially as the kibble will break down quicker than a poor quality one that contains fillers.

grain free dry dog food

What is the medical term for vomiting in dogs due to hunger?

There is no specific medical term for vomiting in dogs due to hunger.

Vomiting that occurs in response to hunger or an empty stomach is typically described as "hunger-induced vomiting" or "vomiting secondary to fasting." These terms are used to describe the association between vomiting and the dog's hunger or extended periods without food. 

Is it normal for dogs to vomit when they're hungry?

Occasional or infrequent vomiting when a dog is hungry may not necessarily be considered abnormal, especially if it happens only on rare occasions. Some dogs may have a more sensitive stomach and may experience mild vomiting or regurgitation when their stomach is empty or if they haven't eaten for a while.

Why is my dog throwing up yellow foam in the morning?

The yellow colour comes from bile, a digestive fluid that's produced in the liver, stored in the gall bladder and then released into the small intestine just below the stomach. A dog may vomit clear or yellow foam simply because his stomach is empty and the bile can be irritating. If a dog is otherwise healthy and he's eating and pooing normally, it helps to include a couple of small treats between meals and just before bed.

What happens in a dog's body that causes vomiting when hungry?

When a dog's stomach is empty for an extended period, 4 main physiological factors can contribute to vomiting when they become hungry. 

  1. Gastric acid production: The stomach continuously produces gastric acid, which aids in the digestion of food. When a dog's stomach is empty, the presence of excess gastric acid without food to digest leads to irritation of the stomach lining.
  2. Irritation and inflammation: The accumulation of gastric acid in an empty stomach causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis). This irritation triggers the vomiting reflex as a protective mechanism to expel the irritating substances from the stomach.
  3. Increased gastric contractions: Hunger stimulates the release of certain hormones and signals that promote increased gastric contractions, known as hunger contractions. These contractions help propel food through the digestive tract. However, in the absence of food, these contractions can contribute to discomfort and trigger the vomiting reflex.
  4. Stomach sensitivity: An empty stomach can make the stomach lining more sensitive to gastric acid, leading to heightened discomfort and a greater likelihood of vomiting.

It's important to note that the sensitivity to an empty stomach and the threshold for triggering vomiting varies among individual dogs. While some dogs vomit easily when hungry, others tolerate an empty stomach without experiencing vomiting. 

Unfortunately, there are many medical conditions that can cause a dog to vomit on an empty stomach, so a phone call to your vet is a good idea if the solutions outlined above do not improve the situation or more symptoms appear.

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