Why Is My Puppy Vomiting and Underweight?

Hi Dr. Barchas! I have a 7-month-old female Yellow Lab. Recently she has shown little interest in her food. In addition, she has lately been...

 |  Jan 10th 2012  |   1 Contribution


Hi Dr. Barchas!

I have a 7-month-old female Yellow Lab. Recently she has shown little interest in her food. In addition, she has lately been throwing up frequently. It's never very much at a time, but it is still vomit.

She now finishes her breakfast at dinnertime and has avoided the dinner. We have tried hand feeding her, which entices her more for a few minutes, but soon she snubs it. The past few days she has puked recently after eating her dinner. We are worried something might be wrong.

Do you have any insights into whether something is wrong, and if there is something wrong, what it is? Are we just giving her too many treats? She's definitely skinny, so I don't think that's it, but perhaps it is.

Thanks,
Artemis
IA

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If your puppy isn't gaining weight, see a vet immediately.

I definitely suspect something is wrong, and I definitely don't think an excess of treats is to blame.

Healthy 7-month-old puppies should eat well and gain weight. Your dog is not doing this. It is not clear from your question that she's losing weight, but it certainly sounds like she's not thriving in the way she should.

This failure to thrive almost certainly is happening for a reason. The vomiting also is not normal, and it also almost certainly has a definable cause.

What might be the cause of these issues? There are many possibilities. Some, such as infestation with worms or other parasites, are not terribly serious. Others are potentially life threatening.

Some of the more serious include congenital organ malfunction (which might lead to early kidney or liver disease), early-onset inflammatory bowel disease, or a syndrome known as distal small intestinal obstruction.

I am quite concerned about that last possibility in your dog. Distal small intestinal obstruction occurs when the intestines become blocked (or partially blocked) near the junction of the small intestine and the colon. It can cause weak appetite, slow weight loss or deterioration of body condition, and intermittent vomiting. In other words, it can cause exactly the symptoms you have described.

Such intestinal obstructions sometimes occur when dogs consume foreign objects (rocks, wood, toys, or a host of other items) that pass most of the way through the gastrointestinal tract but then lodge near the end. They also can occur when the intestines telescope into themselves, leading to a syndrome known as intussusception. Intussusceptions are most common, in my experience, in dogs that are 6 to 18 months old — just as your dog is.

Although many different things could be going on, one thing is clear: Your dog needs to see a vet immediately, before things get worse. X-rays, blood work, and stool tests should provide a much clearer picture of what is happening.

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