Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Vomit? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & What to Do

Written by: Codee Chessher

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog vomiting

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Vomit? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & What to Do


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Dogs have some really weird habits that disgust us, but we just chalk it up to them being dogs. For example, your dog sniffing other dogs’ butts is normal to dogs but weird to humans. Another disgusting thing they like to do is eat their own vomit, or even the vomit of other pets in the home. If you’ve ever wondered why they do this, you’ve come to the right place. Down below, we’ll be exploring the main reasons why a dog eats their own vomit, as well as when you should be worried and how to stop the behavior.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-01-TEST

The 4 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Their Vomit

1. They Have a Better Sense of Smell Than You

Humans are instinctively repulsed by vomit because it signals sickness and smells gross, but your dog can smell the stuff vomit used to be: food! There are still enticing little morsels of food in your dog’s vomit, and nature compels them to eat it to recoup some nutrition after being sick. While, yes, they probably do smell the gross bile odors like we do, vomit simply isn’t as gross to a dog.

A dog sniffing a scent
Image Credit: Pawtraits, Shutterstock

2. Your Dog Is Hiding Being Sick

A more subtle but very important evolutionary reason a dog might eat their vomit is to hide their location from nearby predators. In the wild, predators can sniff out sick animals like vomiting dogs. Although they’re not at risk of predators in your house, little alarm bells go off in your dog’s brain telling them that if they don’t eat the vomit, something bad will come.

3. They’re Eating Too Fast

Dogs tend to be food-motivated, some more so than others. These are often the dogs you see eating their vomit later because they literally scarf down their kibble without giving it enough time to digest. You can slow down these voracious eaters and discourage vomit-eating by using puzzle feeders like snuffle mats or a slow-feeding dog bowl with a maze-like design.

labrador retriever dog eating its food from a bowl
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

4. It’s Perfectly Natural

In puppyhood, most dogs learn that their mother’s vomit typically contains regurgitated food. This often serves as an introduction to solid food, or what you may call “nature’s wet food.” Lots of animals do this—a mother will leave her babies at home, go hunt and eat, then return and regurgitate some of the food for the babies to eat. Looking at it from that angle, eating their own vomit probably has strong positive reinforcement through these early memories and natural instincts.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-01-TEST

When to Be Worried About Your Dog Eating Vomit

While eating their own vomit is often nothing to worry about, it’s the cause of the vomiting in the first place that can be a concern. If your dog is repeatedly vomiting and/or is showing other signs of illness then it’s time for a trip to your vet to get them checked over.

Some signs to watch out for include:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased water intake/unable to keep water down
  • Vomiting in large amounts
  • Severe fatigue or lethargy
  • Changes in stool or urine, like blood or diarrhea
  • Pale, whitish gum color
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting blood
  • Repeated retching without vomit

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Their Vomit

While not usually harmful, sometimes you might want to stop your dog from eating their vomit. For example, if they ate and vomited something harmful like onion or chocolate and then tried to eat it. Another case would be if they vomited a lot and appeared to have trouble keeping food down in general. Let’s look at what you should do to prevent repeated vomiting and vomit-eating:

  1. Immediately remove the dog vomit before your dog has a chance to lap it up.
  2. Take away food and water for 12 hours and observe your dog’s behavior.
  3. If they show signs of appetite after that, offer a small amount of boiled rice and plain boiled chicken (or a prescription gastrointestinal food as advised by your vet).
  4. After their appetite improves, feed smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
  5. For the fastest eaters out there, we highly recommend a slow-feeding dog bowl.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-01-TEST


Dogs eating vomit is perfectly natural in the majority of cases and ingrained in their DNA by evolution. In some cases when your dog appears ill, you’ll want to visit the vet or consider using a bland, easily digestible diet to allow their stomach to settle down.


Featured Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.