First, I do want to note that if your lad is sipping water and keeping this down, then this is a positive sign. If he hadn't been able to do so, then we'd have to consider having him seen urgently since dogs that nauseous often require anti-vomiting/sickness medication by injection before we can make head way with supportive care. So, while his abstaining from food at this stage is likely due to his nausea, his ability to keep water down means we have a chance to try to settle his stomach here.
Now when an older dog starts to vomit and refuse food, these are vague clinical signs that can occur with a range of conditions. This includes grumbling bacterial infection, viral disease, parasitic infestations, pancreatitis, dietary indiscretion, cancer (a consideration at his age), immune mediated sensitivities, metabolic conditions (diabetes, etc), organ troubles (kidney, liver), toxin and/or foreign material ingestion (the last 2 less likely for him).
Now as he is older, he is hopefully not a mischievous wee soul and we can hopefully put worries like toxins and foreign bodies (which we' d want to address as soon as possible) lower on our list of concerns. If these were suspect, then he'd have to be seen urgently. But if this is unlikely for him, then we can take some steps to settle that stomach at home.
First, you can try to settle his stomach by resting it by withholding food for 8-12 hours since the last vomit. He should have access to water at all times, but in small amounts since over drinking can induce vomiting as well. Once he is a bit more settled, you can consider addressing his nausea with an antacid. There are a number of antacids that are available over the counter and pet friendly. I would advise only treating with one, but the two I tend to recommend are Pepcid (More Info/Dose) or Zantac (More Info/Dose). This medication of course shouldn’t be given without consulting your vet if he does have any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medications. Ideally, it should be given about 30 minutes before food to ease his upset gut signs.
If you haven’t seen further vomiting by that point and his antacid has had time to absorb, then I would advise tempting him a small volume of a light/easily digestible diet. Examples of an easily digestible diet include cooked white rice with boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled egg, or meat baby food (as long as its free from garlic or onion powder). There are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used in cases like this, (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity). These diets are easier for the compromised gut to digest and tend to be better tolerated by animals with GI upset. You want to offer a small amount (1 tbsp) and if he keeps that down, a bit more can be offered about thirty minutes later. If no vomiting is seen, then you can increase the volume you are feeding. I usually advise that the diet be continued until the vomiting is settled, and that they are then slowly weaned back to their normal diet over a week.
Further to this, since we have had vomiting, this is a good point to consider checkinghis hydration status. To do so, there are a few things we can test for at home. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether he has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this HERE. If he is showing those dehydration signs at this point, that is our cue to have him to the vet since oral rehydration can be difficult if they are vomiting.
In regards ***** ***** you can do to help stave off dehydration at home (though do note that if he is already then he will likely need more the oral rehydration), encourage him to drink by offering fresh water or even low-sodium chicken broth. As well, wet foods (as mentioned above) are 35% water, so getting him to eat will help us deal with water intake as well. If his vomiting stops and he isn't keen to drink, then you can consider offering unflavoured pedialyte (or pediatric rehydration solution) via syringe feeding. While we cannot do this if they are vomiting, it may be an option once his vomiting settles. A typical maintenance rate for hydration in an animal 48mls per kilogram of his body weight a day. If you do give syringe pedialyte, this should obviously be divided up into multiple offerings through the day as you have. This value will give you the total he needs for the day and is a good starting point to give you an idea of his daily requirement. If he does vomits if you give pedialyte, I would again advise discontinuing this as a therapy. (since we don’t want vomiting because of our intervention).
Overall, when an older dog starts to vomit and then goes off his food due to nausea we do have to be proactive. They can become dehydrated very easily, which can lead to additional complications. Therefore, do check his hydration, consider taking the above steps to settle his stomach and support his compromised GI. If you do this and he isn’t settling within 12-24 hours, then you do have to consider those more serious systemic differentials and consider following up with his vet at that stage. The vet will be able to have a feel of his belly for sinister lumps and bumps. Depending on their findings, you may want to have a blood sample checked (to make sure his organs are function as they should) and/or have him treated with antibiotics against bacterial gastroenteritis and anti-vomiting medications by injection to help settle his stomach and get him back on track as quick as possible.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )