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Regurgitation is an evacuation of food, mucus, or fluids from the throat. This differs from vomiting because your dog will not have abdominal contractions and nausea. It is actually a sign, more than than a disorder. It may be a sign of a congenital disorder.

The purpose of regurgitation is an adjustment. Regurgitating doesn’t involve any abdominal heaving. A dog’s esophagus allows for easy evacuation. And whatever food your dog regurgitates will look about the same as when he ate it. Regurgitated food hasn’t been digested.

Regurgitation is more common in Miniature Schnauzers, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Newfoundlands, Chinese Shar-Peis, and Wire Fox Terriers; or it can be acquired.

Regurgitation vs Vomiting

Vomiting is a very active process, where the dog is forcefully ejecting the contents of their stomach or intestines. It’s often preceded by a sound that will cause you to leap out of bed in the middle of the night. Food is usually at least partially digested, or it may be only yellowish bile that comes up.

Regurgitation is more passive and usually happens while a dog is eating or shortly afterward. There is no scary noise beforehand, and sometimes it looks like food or water just falls right out of your dog’s mouth – often with your dog looking as surprised as you when it happens! Regurgitation is usually either just water or undigested food.

Causes of Regurgitation in Dogs

Acquired regurgitation in dogs can occur in any breed of all ages. It can be caused by a throat or esophageal disorder such as:

Throat Disorders

  • Poisoning
  • Rabies
  • Foreign bodies present
  • Cancer

Esophageal Disorders

  • Enlarged esophagus (megaesophagus)
  • Gastric reflux (usually caused by a hiatal hernia
  • Cancer
  • Addison’s disease


Common symptoms associated with regurgitation include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • A ravenous appetite
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Increased breathing noises


Regurgitation can be urgent problems requiring veterinary input. There are some general approaches to treatment but, ideally, these should be undertaken following discussion with your vet.

Dogs suffering from regurgitation problems may benefit from being fed from a small height. Again, smaller meals, more often will help.


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