Why Is My Dog Throwing up Undigested Food?

Pet Care


June 4, 2021

It can be a pretty ugly sight to see your dog throwing up undigested food, but dog owners need to figure out why this is happening. If your dog just ate a large bowl of food, only to vomit most of it out, it’s important that you take action and figure out why this is happening.

The first thing that you need to know is the procedure that takes place when food is passed down the animal’s stomach. Understanding this process, and complications that might arise, will give you a better idea about why dogs throw up food after a heavy meal.

The Digestion Process

When a dog eats food, they have to chew it properly before swallowing it. The swallowed food passes down the stomach tube. When the food enters the stomach, it is digested after being churned properly. Nutrients are extracted from the food, and the food that’s left is then sent to the intestinal tract.

This is the point where all of the nutrients are absorbed from the food. Now, obviously if there is undigested food being thrown out by the dog, it might be a bit confusing. However, turns out, there are several reasons why your dog might start vomiting undigested food.

Like humans, dogs also chew their food through their teeth. The food is grinded down, and enzymes are released through the saliva glands that break the food down into much smaller parts. Once it has been chewed, the food passes down the cardiac sphincter through the esophagus. This eventually paves the way for the stomach.

The Stomach Gets to Work

Inside the stomach, the food is dropped into extremely strong acids. It’s churned out thoroughly before it passes down to the intestines. The nutrients are derived from the food here and then passed throughout the body. The food that is left is then passed through the intestines and is pooped out by the dog.

This is the ideal situation, and it’s mostly seen in healthy and normal dogs without any problems. However, if things don’t work properly, it’s going to cause problems. Ideally, it takes anywhere between two to three hours, but in some situations, it could take upwards of four to five hours. However, it shouldn’t take more than five hours.

If your dog is throwing up undigested food after six to eight hours of eating, then there’s a problem. It’s obvious that the stomach is not being cleaned out properly. If food is being thrown up just a few hours after eating, then it’s likely to be a problem with the esophagus. It’s also important to note that there is a difference between vomiting and regurgitation. Here are some simple reasons why your dog might start throwing up food.

Digestive Problems

The most common reason why your dog might start vomiting food is because of indigestion. If the food doesn’t sit right with the dog, it is just going to vomit it out. For instance, if you feed the animal excessive table food or give it more treats than necessary, your dog may vomit it out.

These problems are quite common when your dog switches over to a new food. You may want to wait for up to 48 hours, as the problem might resolve itself.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is caused when dogs start throwing up bile. This could also include partially digested food that’s churned and thrown out at night. The presence of yellow bile in the vomit can indicate that your dog is releasing bile into the stomach. This is what causes a yellow color to appear in the vomit.

This is mostly caused due to reverse motility, and usually causes the dog to vomit food after a few hours of eating. It mostly occurs in the night, when it becomes much more difficult for food to go down and be properly digested. This causes the stomach contents to reflux, and also leads the esophagus to get heavily irritated.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

In some cases, vomiting undigested food is due to inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory bowel disease can lead to vomiting, and the diarrhea that it causes is not the usual one. You might want to consult with a vet instead of looking for similar signs that occur in humans who are suffering from IBS.

Depending on the part of the gastrointestinal tract that’s affected, the symptoms are likely to vary.

A Problem with the Esophagus

The esophagus could be another area that causes a problem as well. Esophageal achalasia could lead to swallowing defects that are the result of a neuromuscular disease. This could cause enough issues with the esophagus to the point where the dog may start throwing up its food. The esophagus is the first part of the tract from where the food passes, so a problem there could be serious.

Geriatric onset could eventually cause a series of symptoms in older dogs. These include noisy breathing, or could cause trouble with breathing. This usually occurs when the weather is hot and humid. This also occurs when the dog is overly stressed or excited. If your dog starts hacking or coughing, or its bark becomes hoarse, it’s a clear sign of an underlying problem.

You might want to visit a veterinarian to figure out the problem with your dog.


Pancreatitis is caused due to the inflammation in the dog’s pancreas. This is usually caused when the animal is given a meal that’s high in fats. In its acute form, pancreatitis could make the animal deathly sick. It could result in a severe loss of appetite, and could lead to a fever and excessive vomiting as well.

There’s also a low-grade version of pancreatitis. This is known as a “slow burn” and while it’s due to an inflammation in the pancreas, it leads to specific periods that result in pain. The dog might start throwing up food that’s undigested and this could also cause intermittent vomiting.

How to Treat

Instead of giving medication out of your medicine cabinet or just trying human medication, you should always visit a vet. Explain the symptoms to the vet and they will prescribe a suitable medicine. If your dog eats too fast or too much, it could lead to problems. The vet may recommend probiotics or digestive supplements as well. These are just a few tips for treating the problem.