Why Do Dogs Eat Their Vomit?

“As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” This canine behavior is so commonplace that it’s even included in the Bible, you don’t have to be living in ancient history to experience your dog vomiting… and then trying to eat it.

Gross!

As you rush to clean up the mess before your dog does, you might have wondered to yourself what makes vomit so appealing to your pup. It’s not the only weird behavior that dogs do, but it is possibly the grossest.

If you care to learn why (and don’t mind reading about vomit), read on!

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Regurgitation vs Vomiting

There’s a difference between dog vomiting and dog regurgitation. The latter is something that happens without a lot of warning. Unlike vomiting, there’s less warning in terms of body language, like heaving.

Regurgitation is something that often happens when a dog has eaten their food too quickly, or they’re having trouble swallowing it. So they regurgitate back up, and then re-eat it.

As gross as it may sound, some wild dogs do this on purpose to provide food to their puppies, like how momma birds chew up food to give to their babies.

So, if your dog regurgitates and eats it back up, you might find it disgusting, but hopefully it makes a bit more sense.

Signs Of Vomiting In A Dog

When a dog is vomiting, it is a different thing altogether. While regurgitation is usually missed by us because it happens so fast without any warning signs, vomiting is not the same at all.

Because it involves the ejection of food from the stomach and the upper intestine, a dog’s behavior will show that they are about to vomit.

Here are some of the ways from a dog’s body language that will warn you they are about to bring up their food:

  • They may salivate because they are feeling nauseous
  • They may pace back and forth or wander about in anticipation of vomiting.
  • You may see them heaving from the abdominal muscles, followed by retching sounds.
  • Their stomach may make noises like grumbling sounds.
  • The dog may have a hunched posture indicating they are about to vomit.

Vomiting will include some or all of these behaviors, whereas regurgitation will not. This is because the food is coming from their stomach, rather than partway down their throat.

This means that if your dog has vomited, the vomit is stomach contents including bile. This food will be more digested than regurgitated food.

Why Dogs Like Their Own Vomit

Now we’re finally to the real question: why do dogs like to eat their own vomit? As a human, we wouldn’t dream of doing this (the mere thought makes us nauseous!)

But to your dog, it is almost like a bonus meal and anyway, it is probably better second time around!Dogs have a great sense of smell, and what this will do is pick out chunks of food from the wet mess that they will want to eat again. Unless your dog is ill, they will likely eat it again if they can find food within it.

There are instances where a dog may sniff the food and decide not to eat it. This is likely when the food is too mushed up and digested, and also if it is mainly just stomach bile. What they’re looking for is tasty pieces of food to digest again. Yummy.

In short, your dog basically eats their own vomit because of their strong sense of smell and interest in eating food. If it smells like food, your dog will likely be interested in eating it, even if they already ate it earlier. If it doesn’t smell like food, or the stomach acid makes it unappetizing, they won’t eat it.

When Vomiting Is Serious

When a dog vomits and eats their own puke, it can be pretty shocking and off-putting, but it’s likely not serious. Hopefully this new understanding will allow you to look past the gross behavior and get it cleaned up.

A single vomiting incident is typically nothing to worry about. Offer your dog some water afterwards, and if they seem like their normal happy self, and their energy level isn’t affected, then there is probably nothing to worry about.

However, if your dog keeps vomiting in a short space of time, then it could be a sign something is wrong.

In this case, it will be best to seek help from a vet. Dogs, especially puppies, will dehydrate quickly so it is very important you get them seen by a vet as soon as possible.

If your dog vomits after every meal, it could be because of what you are feeding him. Some dogs have food allergies and this could be worth looking into. 

Conclusion

Vomiting and regurgitation are common in dogs, as is eating afterwards. Be sure to offer your dog water and keep an eye on them after they vomit, and bring them to the vet if it’s not an isolated incident.

While it’s true that dogs eating their own vomit is disgusting, hopefully the food aspect will help you better understand your dog’s gross behavior.

While us humans would not even think about eating our own vomit, a dog will happily take sloppy seconds – literally!

PuppyLists is written by J., who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 14 year old Lab mix.