If your dog throws up only in the middle of the night, you will certainly be concerned and will want to know why. Why does your dog do this? And how can you comfort him? Is there anything you can do to stop this from happening? Well, here are the answers to these questions, along with other things you’ll simply need to know.
So, why does a dog only throw up in the middle of the night? Dogs generally only through up in the middle of the night if they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t. Sometimes, however, throwing up at nighttime can be a sign of a health condition.
Essentially, you need to first ask questions about how long this has been going on.
Have you only just noticed it? Is it a recent development? Or, is this becoming a repeat occurrence?
That will give you a lot of clues here.
If it’s a once-off, it’s more likely something they ate. If it’s happened a few times before already, it’s likely a sign something more serious is going on.
With this in mind, let us explore the reasons further and how is best to approach it, in either circumstance.
Why Does My Dog Only Throw Up In The Middle Of The Night?
The most common reason for a dog to throw up in the middle of the night is if he’s eaten something he shouldn’t have a few hours before. It could be your dog simply has a temporary case of indigestion. Sometimes, though, throwing up in the middle of the night can be because of acid reflux or more serious conditions such as pancreatitis or bloat.
Your Dog Has Eaten Something He Shouldn’t
Dogs are curious animals who like to explore with their mouths.
Putting odd things into their mouths is part of their nature. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that sometimes your dog will put things into his mouth that aren’t meant to be eaten.
For example, dogs often chew on grass, but you may find your dog chewing on other plants out in the yard.
Or perhaps they’ve spotted something on the floor that looks enticing, such as shreds of onion skin, a small toy, or a crinkly piece of paper.
If your dog has eaten something that is inedible or has spoiled, his body will want to try and get rid of the offending substance.
This process can take a few hours, so if your dog has eaten something wrong at around 7 to 8 pm, he’ll most likely try to expel it at around 11 to 12 pm.
This is the most common reason for dogs vomiting in the middle of the night.
Sometimes you’ll see the offending object or ingredients in your dog’s vomit, in which case you’ll know what has tempted him.
Your Dog Has Acid Reflux
Sometimes a dog will vomit on an empty stomach.
If you see your dog’s vomit is greenish-yellow with nothing in it, this usually indicates he’s vomited up bile. In other words, he’s vomiting on an empty stomach.
Bile helps your dog’s body expel waste material while assisting in the digestion of food.
Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder until it is released into the small intestine.
Once in the small intestine, bile helps break down the food eaten so that the nutrients can be absorbed and used.
Sometimes, though, the bile may get into the stomach from the intestine. This causes your dog to vomit. If the bile isn’t expelled fully, the bile that remains in your dog’s stomach can irritate it, causing gastric reflux.
It’s worth knowing that conditions like acid reflux can act up at nighttime or early in the morning. These conditions will cause your dog to vomit, often in the middle of the night.
If your dog is vomiting up bile, you’ll want to see your vet to determine the exact cause.
Most of the time, acid reflux is caused by a long period of not eating (causing an acid buildup in the stomach.)
Your Dog Has Indigestion
Even if your dog has eaten food he likes and does well with normally, he can sometimes get a case of indigestion.
Common causes for indigestion are:
- Eating too fast
- Drinking too much too quickly (e.g., right after lots of exercise)
- Eating grass
- Eating something he shouldn’t (see above)
If your dog vomits from indigestion, most of the time this is temporary and is no cause for concern.
Your Dog Has Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis is when the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing your dog to vomit up their food along with white foam.
White foam on its own is nothing to worry about most of the time. However, if your dog is throwing up food at the same time, you may want to watch for the following additional symptoms:
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal pain
- A hunched back
Pancreatitis is very serious and if you see any of the above symptoms, get your dog to the vet immediately.
Your Dog Has Bloat
Bloat is another serious health condition where a dog’s stomach becomes so full of food, gas, or liquid that it bloats excessively. A bloated stomach can restrict blood flow to essential organs, making it difficult for your dog to breathe.
Signs of bloat include vomiting white foam along with any of these additional symptoms:
- Straining to defecate (constipation)
- Pale gums
Bloat is very serious and can be life-threatening. If you suspect bloat, get your dog to the vet as a matter of urgency.
How To Comfort A Dog Throwing Up At Night
You’ll want to comfort your dog if he’s thrown up, whether it’s during the day or at night. At nighttime he can need extra comfort, particularly if he sleeps by himself.
Reassure Your Dog
Reassure your dog that he’s done nothing wrong. He will probably be feeling bad for vomiting, especially if he’s housetrained and he knows to expel things outside.
Try to get your dog to rest by getting him to lie down. You don’t want him to have to get up and walk around if he isn’t feeling well.
If he is shivering or otherwise seems cold, put a comfy blanket over him.
Give him lots of affection: dogs love to be comforted by the people they love!
Keep Him Clean
Dried vomit can soil your dog’s fur and matt his hair, so you’ll want to clean him up. It’s also uncomfortable to be soiled, so use a warm, wet washcloth to gently wipe him clean.
If your dog appears stressed at your cleaning efforts, stop and let him rest.
You could put old towels or puppy pads around his chin so that if he’s sick again, he won’t soil things further.
Some dogs get anxious about being unclean, and he may be relieved to know he’s got a place to vomit if he needs to do it again.
Keep an Eye on Your Dog
Watch over your dog to see if he’ll vomit again. Repeated vomiting requires medical attention, so look for any of the following:
- Noises as if he’s got something caught in his throat
- A rigid or stiff stance
- Aimlessly wandering as if he’s looking for a place to vomit
- Retching sounds
Give His Stomach Time to Rest
Unless you suspect a serious medical condition, avoid giving your dog food for the next 12 hours. His stomach will need to rest.
After 12 hours, give your dog small amounts (2 to 3 teaspooons) of low-fat, easy-to-digest foods.
Examples are skinless chicken, lean hamburger, well-cooked rice, and boiled potatoes.
Make a mixture of 1 part lean meat to 5 parts carbohydrates. Don’t season the food – plain is safest.
Note: Puppies or young dogs shouldn’t fast for more than 12 hours. If your dog has an existing medical condition (such as diabetes), contact your vet before withholding food.
Keep Him Hydrated
Give your dog water, but not too much. Offer 1 teaspoon of water per pound of his weight every hour.
Provide the water every hour until your dog can drink normally. Speak to your vet to keep them informed, as they may have suggestions for your specific situation.
Another way to get water into your dog is with ice chips. Some dogs love chewing on these, and the cold might soothe his irritated throat.
How To Stop Your Dog From Throwing Up In The Middle Of The Night
The best way to stop your dog from throwing up in the middle of the night is to figure out why he’s doing it. You can then take the appropriate steps to help him stop.
Feed Your Dog Little and Often
Some dogs do better with smaller, more frequent meals. This is especially true for dogs who suffer from acid reflux.
There are specific dog foods on the market for sensitive stomachs. Your vet can also provide you with good advice as to your choices.
You can also find homemade dog food recipes that use easy-to-digest foods for tender stomachs.
Try Changing Your Dog’s Diet
If you see bits of kibble in your dog’s vomit, it may be he ate too much of it. Or it could be it’s the wrong type of kibble for him.
I recommend moving them over to a whole-food diet and dog food designed with sensitive stomachs in mind.
You can literally design a dog food quickly and simply that’s ideal for your specific dog – taking into account factors like their age, weight, activity, and breed.
It’s free from any potential allergens, additives, or other cheap ingredients that are often found in common brands.
If you do decide to change your dog’s food, try doing this slowly.
For example, if you’ve been feeding your dog a mixture of lean meat and cooked carbs (see above), you can try mixing in his new dog food gradually.
Here’s what transitioning your dog to a new dog food could look like:
- Feed him bland foods for 24 hours.
- On day 2, mix a little bit of his new dog food with the bland food he’s been eating (say 25% new food).
- On day 3, up the percentage of new food to 50% new and 50% bland food.
- On day 4, increase that to 75% new food.
- From day 5 onwards, feed him normally.
Note: If your dog begins vomiting again at any point, stop and contact your vet. Take a photograph of the vomit so that you can show the vet what’s happening. Follow their instructions and see if your dog needs follow-up tests or treatment.
Avoid Giving Table Scraps
Tempting though it can be to give your dog scraps from the table, unfamiliar or spicy foods can contribute to your dog’s vomiting.
Your dog could have a food intolerance or allergy that you’re unaware of. Grains, additives, and certain proteins are all potential allergens for dogs.
There are even some vegetables and fruits that are toxic to dogs, so the safest bet is to give your dog specially formulated dog food.
If your dog is throwing up during the night, something is clearly up.
But whether this is something to be seriously concerned with or something that will naturally clear up on its own accord will ultimately come down to context.
One thing is for sure though; if it does become a common occurrence, or you have noticed this a few nights in a row, it’s a good idea to contact a vet.
At least to rule out any serious conditions.
Besides, at the very least they may be able to help you support your dog, or even give you tips on how to keep them hydrated during this time.
Did you know you can contact a vet online? Click here to learn how.
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I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.