dog throwing up food hours after eating
Category_Dog Knowledge

Why Is My Dog Throwing Up Undigested Food Hours After Eating?

by Jeff Bloom

Written By: Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA | Professional Services Veterinarian, Wild Earth

Keeping our pups healthy is our number one priority, and every pet parent knows how scary it is when we notice any signs of illness or discomfort in our fur babies.

A less talked about, but still common symptom experienced by some dogs is vomiting, or more accurately, regurgitating undigested food several hours after eating. We know that food begins to be digested once it reaches the stomach, so why is undigested food coming up hours after eating? Shouldn’t the food already be digested? As it turns out, there are several possible reasons - keep reading to find out what they are!

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Vomit vs. Regurgitation

Before diving into these causes, let’s first differentiate vomiting and regurgitating as they are very different, and there are different causes for each. Vomiting is an active process with stomach retching involved, whereas regurgitation is a passive process. When a dog is regurgitating, you will not see their abdominal muscles contract, and the contents are usually undigested kibble. Regurgitation usually occurs when there is an issue with the esophagus or food entering the stomach. Differentiating between the two is the first step!

Esophageal Obstruction

Esophageal obstruction occurs when something is blocking the esophagus such as a toy or bone, and therefore food cannot pass to the stomach. It is very dangerous, not only because food cannot pass, but also because these items can often completely perforate the esophagus. Esophageal obstruction can also result from cancer if a tumor blocks the passage of food.


Megaesophagus is a condition where the esophagus gets dilated, weakening the muscles. As a result, food does not move through the esophagus normally and can be easily regurgitated. Megaesophagus can either be congenital or acquired.

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Congenital Disease of Heart Blood Vessels

This should be considered if a puppy is regurgitating food at weaning. This condition is called persistent right aortic arch, and it results when an embryonic branch of the aorta (a heart blood vessel) fails to regress. It essentially pushes on the esophagus and blocks food from passing through to the stomach.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux occurs when gastric acid leaks into the esophagus and causes inflammation. This, in turn, can lead to irritation, and your dog may regurgitate their food when it comes into contact with the irritated portion of the esophagus.

Gastric Hypomotility

Gastric hypomotility typically occurs in older dogs, and results in vomiting undigested or partially digested food hours after eating. This cluster of diseases can be primary or secondary, meaning it is caused by a stomach issue vs something outside of the gastrointestinal tract, respectively.

Wrap Up

If you see a dog throwing up undigested food hours after eating, it’s best to check with your vet to find out the exact cause and solution. Try to take a video while it is happening to show your vet because we all know the saying - a picture (well in this case, a video) is worth a thousand words.

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