Protecting Dogs From Pests and Wildlife: A Pet Owner Blog

Understanding Regurgitation in Dogs

by Courtney Wheeler

Regurgitation of food is not the same as vomiting. It refers to times when your dog brings up their food as soon as they swallow it. If this happens once or twice, they may just have eaten too quickly, but repeated regurgitation should be addressed by your vet. Here's what you need to know about regurgitation in dogs:


Some breeds, including Labradors and German shepherds, seem to be genetically predisposed to the condition, but it can occur in any breed. Common causes include:

  • A foreign body or abnormal growth in the throat
  • A damaged or diseased oesophagus, which may present as a hiatal hernia or narrowing of the oesophagus
  • An illness that weakens the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract


Aside from the act of bringing up their food, your dog may also display the following symptoms when experiencing regurgitation:

  • Rapid breathing and panting
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your vet will examine your dog's throat and use diagnostic imaging to determine why your dog is regurgitating their food. X-rays of the throat and chest can identify blockages and endoscopy, which involves passing a tiny camera down your dog's throat, can allow the vet to see the condition of your dog's oesophagus and take tissue biopsies. Blood tests can also help diagnose an underlying disease by flagging up inflammation or infection.

Once the cause of the regurgitation has been established, your vet will propose a treatment plan to correct or limit the severity of the condition. Treatment may include:

  • Diet—If your dog has weak gastrointestinal muscles or their oesophagus is irritated as a result of illness, your vet will give you advice on how to modify your dog's diet. Soft, easy to swallow foods that are low in fibre can allow your dog to maintain their weight and energy.
  • Medication—Your vet can prescribe medication to reduce gastric acids, which may be rising up into your dog's oesophagus and causing irritation to the soft tissue. They can also prescribe drugs that help your dog digest food more effectively, and these may be useful if your dog has a gastrointestinal disorder such as dysmotility that's preventing food from travelling along their digestive tract.
  • Surgery—If your dog has a foreign object or abnormal growth in their throat, your vet will surgically remove the object while your dog is under general anaesthetic. If the oesophagus has narrowed, your vet will inflate a balloon inside your dog's throat, which will stretch the tissue. The balloon is attached to the same endoscope used to view your dog's throat and the procedure is relatively painless for your dog.

As you can see, regurgitation can have potentially serious causes, so take your dog to a clinic like Belmont Avenue Veterinary Hospital if they're bringing up their food or displaying any of the associated symptoms of regurgitation.