Though not known for being picky eaters, some Chihuahuas do occasionally experience bouts of nausea and vomiting after enjoying a meal. Is this a breed trait common to Chihuahuas, or is there something more concerning at play? To best understand the behaviors we see in our dogs, it is wise to conduct a thorough study of breed histories. Most activities seen in our dogs have a genetic component or logical explanation behind them. If your Chihuahua throws up after a meal, is it time for a visit to your vet? What causes the problem, and what can you do about it?
The Root of the Behavior
Chihuahuas shine like stars when in the spotlight and have many acting accolades to their credit. They are a favorite choice of many different directors for commercials, TV, and featured film roles. Among some of the films Chihuahuas have played prominent roles in are Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Legally Blonde. Chihuahuas are said to possess the same independent, feisty spirit that characterizes most Terriers. Though throwing up after consuming a meal is not necessarily a predilection common to Chihuahuas, it can be a problem for any dog. If your dog engages in this behavior, it can be very concerning, and it is important to get to the root cause behind it. Why is Fido throwing up after his meals? One of the first considerations behind this unusual behavior is if there has been any recent changes to your dog's diet. Sometimes dogs do poorly on a certain type of food, and it is necessary to make a change. However, how you introduce the new food is important and can lead to gastrointestinal distress and digestive issues for your dog. Always transition to a new food by including a portion of the old food with the new and gradually weaning out the old until your dog is now eating only the new diet. In doing so, you reduce the risk of any nausea or vomiting as a result of a rapid food change.
Encouraging the Behavior
Some dogs like to lap up their dinner as if they are competing at the Daytona Speedway. Eating too quickly causes a build-up of gas in your dog's system and can lead to vomiting or even more serious issues like bloat in larger dogs. Dogs who ingest food too quickly rarely take time to properly chew their kibble, resulting in larger and more jagged pieces having to travel through the esophagus and into the stomach. This renders the food more difficult to break down and can also cause irritation and even blockages. If your dog is a member of a multi-dog household, competition for resources can also play a part in rapid eating which then leads to vomiting. Some dogs fear that if they don't eat their food quickly, one of their siblings will. This leads to gorging and can result in the purging of the inhaled food. Change in a home can also increase feelings of nervousness and stress in our dogs. Dogs who eat on a jittery stomach can be more prone to later vomiting their supper. Of course, maybe Fido just really loves his food and cannot wait to get it to him!
Since dogs also learn by observation; if Fido has licked his bowl clean in the past and been rewarded with more food for it, it is highly possible that scarfing down food is a learned behavior. This not only leads to vomiting, but it can also put your dog at risk for obesity. As much as we love anything that brings our dogs joy, we must take care to only feed appropriate amounts of food and not give into the "puppy dog eyes," no matter how much your Chihuahua may beg. If you give in even once, he is going to keep offering the behavior again and again, making it that much more difficult for you to say "no" in the future. Sometimes dogs will vomit when out for a walk or after a vigorous bout of activity with their owners. If this has been the case for your dog, the culprit may be too little time between eating and exercise. Simply increase the duration of time between each activity to eliminate issues related to vomiting after a meal. Chihuahuas are considered a toy breed, and vomiting in a dog of their size can quickly lead to dehydration. Dehydration is of great concern in any breed but is particularly dangerous in one that is as small as a Chihuahua. If your dog has been vomiting frequently, a visit to your local veterinarian is necessary to rule out any more serious health complications.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your dog could win an award for speed eating, there are some things that you can do to help eradicate the problem. Slow feeding bowls are an excellent solution. Because food becomes buried in what are essentially puzzle bowls, your dog must use his brain to find then eat the food, thus slowing down the entire process. Alternatively, you can feed your dog much smaller and more frequent meals. This reduces any possibility of binging and later regurgitation of food particles. Some dogs also respond well to being fed by hand. Choosing to do so allows you to feed your dog a few pieces at a time. By removing access to a plentiful bowl of food, you reduce the likelihood of speed eating. Food is then digested at a proper rate, and vomiting is far less likely to occur as a result.
If your dog is vomiting on a consistent basis, food poisoning could be at play. With the risk of dehydration high in toy breeds, it is critical that you get your dog to the nearest veterinary clinic for assessment and IV fluids if needed. Proper hydration could save your dog's life. In rarer cases, parasites can also cause vomiting. In dogs suffering from parasitic infestations, weight loss is usually a powerful indicator that something is awry. Increased appetite is also a warning sign that your dog is suffering from something that requires veterinary intervention and appropriate treatment. Lastly, some dogs will vomit after eating due to more serious medical conditions which could include pancreatitis or liver or kidney problems. Pancreatitis can be brought on through a diet or even treats that are far too rich for your dog to process properly. To reduce the risk of nausea and vomiting, it is best to limit people food to very small doses.
Could your Chihuahua win a speed eating contest? Many dogs enjoy lapping up their food with vigor; however, doing so can lead nausea, vomiting, and even diarrhea. Invest in a slow feeder bowl to teach Fido that slowing down while eating can be fun for his brain and his tummy!