The Gross Factor: When A Dog Vomits In Your Hands

by Kimberly Gauthier, Keep the Tail Wagging

What is the measure of the gross factor?

If you really take the time to think about what we do on a daily basis, living creatures are gross. We’re pretty gross. Dogs are gross and don’t care. While I’m burying my farts in the sofa, Sydney and Rodrigo are having a Fart Off during their afternoon nap. We spend $4.50 on a bottle of air freshener and our dogs stick their noses in dog poo, because they’re curious to know who walked by today. And have you been in a ladies restroom recently? Wow!

The point is that there are so many things humans do that make me cringe, but when our dogs do it, I don’t bat an eye.

The other day the dogs were napping after a morning of running, playing and exploring (we live on 5 acres, surrounded by wooded areas). Blue sat up and started the dry heaving – I jumped into action, grabbing as many tissues as possible ... only to end up with vomit in my hands; a lot of it.

I saved the carpet though!

When Your Dog Vomits

Part of me recognizes that this is gross, but I don’t take the time to dwell on it, because I have mental work to do. Whenever one of our dogs vomits I…

  • Make sure they’re okay – is it over, is there more coming, are they comfortable? Are they behaving listless or do they seem to be in pain?
  • Check the vomit – yep, grossssss; but I have to check the vomit for blood or foreign objects.
  • If there’s blood – what color is it?  If it’s bright red, then they probably broke a vessel during the heaving; if it’s dark, then something may be wrong.
  • If there’s a foreign object – what is it? Rodrigo likes to swallow the squeaker from toys – we take them out before he gets a toy, but we’ve missed one.
  • What did they eat recently? – Sydney tosses her cookies after eating raw bones, so she doesn’t get raw bones.
  • What time is it? – Is the veterinarian’s office still open?

Our veterinarian trained me well; she’ll ask all of these questions when I call so I get prepared.

Over the past three years, we learned that sometimes dogs vomit. Blue was fine moments after clearing his stomach contents in my hands and once we confirmed this we had our gross out moment as I washed my hands then chased my boyfriend around the house screaming “I love you, I want to touch you!!!”

Why Dogs Vomit

Dogs vomit (or regurgitate food – food hasn’t reached the stomach yet) for various reasons:

  • eating something that’s indigestible (Sydney has trouble with raw bones)
  • over eating or eating too fast (this happens with Blue when he drinks water too fast)
  • exercising / playing too soon after eating
  • motion sickness (we give our dogs doggy frozen yogurt after a trip to soothe their tummies)
  • stress

Is it Serious when a Dog Vomits

It can be serious, which is why I go through the mental routing I shared above. If our dogs vomit once and then they’re fine, I don’t worry about it. But if it’s ongoing, it could be a symptom of something more serious and it’s time for a visit with the veterinarian. 

The one thing I’ve learned not to do is to diagnose by Google. I do research for my own blog, but I try and stay away from the Internet when we’re in the midst of health drama with our dogs, because every search freaks me out.

What’s the grosses thing your dog has done recently?


Kimberly Gauthier is The Fur Mom behind Keep the Tail Wagging.  She shares everything she’s learning as a dog mom in a multi-dog household.  Kimberly lives with three dogs (Rodrigo, Sydney and Blue) and two tolerant cats (Jaffrey and Cosmo).  She and her boyfriend live with their pack in the Pacific Northwest. You can also connect with Kimberly on Twitter or Facebook.

Related articles:
Vomiting in Dogs: Is He Actually Vomiting?
Causes of Vomiting in Dogs
What’s In the Vomit?


  1. When done in the name of love, these things are no longer gross. :-)
    When my late Cavall (pit bull/lab mix) was elderly, he developed bowel incontinence. I've had an easily triggered gag reflex for most of my life but Cavall cured me. I got to the point where I could catch dog shit in my bare hands without batting an eye. Hands are so much easier to wash than carpeting, aren't they?

    1. Yes, hands are much easier to wash :-)

      With Jasmine's IBD, ever since she was little I got used to "playing" with poop. I think she'd rather die than make a mess in the house, so carpets were generally safe, but I had done my share of picking up and checking out loose poop. She didn't vomit too often, except for the end, but I too always paid close attention to it.

    2. You are so right, Marcy

      It's nuts how much we'll do, because we love our babies. All of a sudden grossness is just no a factor.

  2. Oops..."bright red" not "bright read" - hee hee :) Hey, I had vomit in my hands :)

  3. Much like what we do for babies. Changing squishy diapers or vomit out of hair is the very short list. Our dogs are our babies with fur, after all.
    For Bishu I remember bathing her after she had rolled in horse manure earlier in the day. Being a little dry, it had to soak up the water a little in order to be freed from her hair. Also the time she rolled in dung, somewhere in the forest, that didn't smell... ummmm like the animal kind.

    1. Yeah, exactly like that.

      Horse manure? I didn't even consider that "dirt" any more LOL I had two categories: clean dirt and dirty dirt. Horse shit was in the clean enough dirt category. LOL

    2. ahhhh, been there too - we added no trespassing signs, because a jogger came onto our property to relieve himself and Rodrigo tromped through it thoroughly. Now when I catch someone sneaking onto our property, I go a little balistic. I don't want to have to clean that up again.

    3. Grrr; human poop is where I draw the line.

  4. Thankfully, Elka has vomited fewer than 10 times in her life. Many of those times were before I found the way to deal with her car sickness (Vet recommended Dramamine dose).

    She did sneeze in my mouth once....

    1. Jasmine was so amazing; she always did her best to take her vomiting outside too. Only when we weren't fast enough letting her out, she'd deposit it in the corner by the door to the yard.

      Glad you found a way to help Elka's car sickness!

    2. LOL about the sneezing in the mouth. Been there.

      We use children's dramamine when Rodrigo had car sickness. He's grown from it now.

  5. Hehe love this... Shiner does all kinds of gross things! Including the occasional vomit. Way to go catching the vomit with your hands - that is awesome. Reminds me of the time we needed a urine sample from a dog really badly but the dog wasn't givin' it up. He started peeing during the cysto and I stuck my hand out to catch what I could...

    1. Grossness is in the eye of beholder ... LOL

      Jasmine was very easy to collect pee from, fortunately. No idea how we might do it with JD.

  6. When it is rainy weather I like to snarf up a bunch of grass and then vomit, not sure why but I do it all the time when it rains. My sister tends to eat gross stuff on the street when mom isn't paying attention and she pukes on the carpet at home which mom really loves!

    1. Eating gross stuff of the street can be dangerous, you should talk to your sister about that.


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