Why Does My German Shepherd Vomit After Eating?


All breeds of dogs, much like we humans, are prone to vomiting—and yes, that even includes German Shepherds. Experts have long stated that dogs vomit much more often than their human counterparts.  As such, as German Shepherd owners, we need not get alarmed every time this situation arises. 

For a German Shepherd, vomiting is a natural reflex, built into its DNA. Its function is to remove any manner of foreign objects from lodging in the esophagus. Although most times vomiting after eating occurs from simply ingesting something unusual, there are times when the vomiting may point to a more severe cause.    

Albeit vomiting is a normal reflex, it is usually preceded by your German Shepherd repeatedly licking its lips or drooling. I would be remiss to go without mentioning that vomiting should not be confused with regurgitation

Regurgitation is, in fact, another process altogether. It is a passive reflex when the dog’s food moves out of the esophagus with no effort. Vomiting, unlike regurgitation, is more of a forced action.  

What Is With the Vomiting?

Once you have established that your German Shepherd is in fact vomiting, and not regurgitating, the question then becomes: why does my German Shepherd vomit after eating?

The very purpose of vomiting is nature’s way of cleaning the esophagus to maintain the dog’s ability to breath. 

It is also the means of making sure that dogs, who are prone to eating just about anything they can get into their mouths on, are prevented from choking on something that they ingested. Although it is not always a cause for alarm when your German Shepherd vomits after eating, it is still advised to determine what may, in fact, be the root cause. 

There are several reasons as to why vomiting after eating may occur, and we will present and take a look at a few of these reasons below.

Ruling out illness

The first suggested step is to rule out any form of disease that may prove to be the primary cause of the vomiting. 

Vomiting may very well instead be an indication of health problems that your German Shepherd may be having or experiencing. There are several health-related issues that can present with vomiting after eating.

Ear Infection

German Shepherds have those perky ears that we all know and love, not the type that flop over against their heads. Breeds with these types of ears are more commonly known to be prone to ear infections. 

When a German Shepherd falls victim to a middle or inner ear infection, the disease usually turns into and presents with a yeast infection. Such a virus will give the dog a feeling of nausea followed by vomiting, especially after a meal.  

Fever

When it comes to running a high temperature, German Shepherds are just as prone to this as any other animal. A temperature, much like with an infant or small child, will often times go hand in hand with vomiting after eating. If you suspect that a fever may be the cause, make sure to check that your German Shepherd’s body temperature isn’t above the normal of 102.5F.

Dehydration

When dehydrated, dogs will present with much the same symptoms as we humans do. Just as dehydration and excessive heat can cause us to become severely nauseous, so can a German Shepherd. This may resultin producing unwanted vomiting after meals. 

In order to solve this issue, make sure your German Shepherd has plenty of cool water at their disposal, as well as fresh air circulating to keep them cool and comfortable at all times.

If one of these instances are not present, then the occurrence of vomiting after eating could, unfortunately, be a cause for concern.

Underlying Causes for Vomiting

Side-effects of Medications

German Shepherds are much like humans when it comes to starting a new regime of medication. Their stomachs can take a while to adjust to the medicine if it, in fact, it ever does at all. 

In an effort to lessen the problem of vomiting after eating, many vets suggest that medicine be given either two hours before or two hours after the meal. 

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis in German Shepherds is an irritation of both the stomach and the intestines that is primarily caused when the gut has large amounts of fluid seep into it through its outer walls. 

Symptoms include vomiting after eating as well as bloody diarrhea.  Although it is not currently known what causes this condition, if left untreated, there is the real possibility the situation may prove fatal.

Obstruction

An obstruction of any type can prove fatal for your German Shepherd. If the blockage occurs in the esophagus while eating, then the dog will automatically attempt to throw up its food. Its body does this in an attempt to dislodge the obstruction to clear its airway. 

If the blockage occurs in the stomach, or the bowel, your dog will still vomit after eating as their food will encounter resistance in passing through the digestive tract.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Although inflammatory bowel is more of a syndrome than an actual disease, it can be just as harmful, if not fatal, to your German Shepherd if left unchecked. 

Most often, symptoms include poor appetite, as well as recurrent, chronic vomiting after eating. Other than a lack of appetite, and weight loss from vomiting their meals, most German Shepherds will otherwise appear quite ordinary.

Parasites

There are a whole host of types of parasites that a German Shepherd can contract. The most common include hookworm, tapeworm, whipworm, and roundworm. 

If left untreated, any of these parasites can cause an infection to set up in your dog’s intestines. When this happens, your German Shepherd will become very sickened and will present with vomiting after their meals as the body tries to rid itself of the worms.

Toxins

The list of toxins that can affect and sicken your dog is fairly extensive.  Toxins that are harmful to canines are known to be present in:

  • Chemical products: such as antifreeze and pesticides
  • Medicines: such as acetaminophen and aspirin
  • Select foods: such as raisins and onions

When these types of items containing toxins are ingested, the dog’s body will kick into preservation mode and work to expel them from the stomach. This is presented by the dog vomiting after eating, as well as possibly other times as well.

Liver Disease

Experts state that the symptoms exhibited by a dog are the primary way to determine the root cause of the disease. The symptoms may range from specific to very vague. 

However, many German Shepherds will begin showing signs of:

  • Malaise: Your dog will be lethargic and not as lively as usual.
  • Weight loss: You will visibly notice your dog losing weight.
  • Abdominal pain: You may hear gurgling from your dog’s stomach or it may have excessive gas.

Kidney Disease

The symptoms of this disease can present with

  • vomiting after eating
  • lack of appetite
  • increased water consumption 

The prognosis for a German Shepherd with this disease varies, depending on how fast treatment is started and how well they respond to the first treatments.

Medicine, in most cases, with those dogs that respond well from the beginning, may provide a dog with years of additional quality of life.

Infections 

Much like us humans, a German Shepherd can contract various infections.  An infection can present with the occurrence of vomiting after eating.

Bacterial

A bacterial infection or disease can occur when a German Shepherd’s immune system is weakened or compromised to such a degree that the bacteria are permitted the opportunity to grow and spread throughout the dog’s body. One such bacteria is the well-known salmonella.

Viral

There are a multitude of viruses that your dog can contract, including distemper and parvovirus. 

However, one that attacks and affects the intestines to a significant degree is that of the coronavirus.  When this virus is present, the dog may present with vomiting after eating, as well as other times.

Consuming Fatty Foods

German Shepherds, like most canines, are omnivores.  Their nutritional needs include meat, grains, and vegetables. Nature never intended them to have fatty foods in the mix. And as such, when fatty foods are included in their diet they are prone to vomiting them back up after eating them.

Ingesting Foreign Objects

As mentioned above, a dog will try and eat just about anything they are able to get a hold of, and this characteristic is by no means breed specific. 

The ingesting and attempt to swallow items such as stones, sticks, bones, or even their toys can cause them to throw up after eating as their stomach tries to expel the foreign objects.

Stress And Anxiety

Remember when you were stressed, or your anxiety was at such a fever pitch that you would feel absolutely nauseous?  A German Shepherd can feel the exact same way.

Only when they are nauseous, it usually presents itself with vomiting.  If a German Shepherd eats when it is excessively stressed, excited, or anxiety-ridden, there is a pretty good chance that the meal will be vomited back up.

Pancreatic Disease

Pancreatitis in dogs, much like in humans, is both a quickly progressing and painful disease. When a German Shepherd presents with this ailment, the first symptom is usually vomiting after meals. 

If caught soon enough, the illness can be successfully treated, with little to no presence of permanent damage. However, if left unchecked long-term, the results could include severe organ damage as well as brain damage.

Head Trauma

Known as a concussion in humans, this presents in canines in much the same manner. The most notable symptom is vomiting, in some cases projectile, after eating. 

If you suspect that this may be the cause of your dog’s vomiting, it is suggested that you it them checked out by a vet as soon as possible.  The trauma may only take a few days to clear up, or there may a more persistently severe underlying problem that requires immediate attention.

Much like caring for a toddler, many German Shepherd owners will jump to the worst-case scenario when their dog vomits after eating. But the actuality is that a dog who is throwing up, in most cases, is not necessarily ill, or in need of being rushed to an emergency vet visit. 

However, if the symptom persists, or other symptoms begin to manifest themselves, then it is advised that you reach out to your dog’s vet

More often than not, the answer may be a simple one, but your vet will be able to determine the solution. Either way, you will have the peace of mind that your German Shepherd is fit as a fiddle, and you will not be doing the dreaded clean up after them anymore.  

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds for over 18 years now. I'm originally from Indiana, though I've lived in many different states and traveled extensively. The places change, my dogs don't. German Shepherds have been my constant companions. I love every aspect of training them and simply just having them around. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge about German Shepherds with the world, and I encourage all future dog owners to consider one as a companion as well. Read my story here.

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