Vomiting and Collapse in a Dog: Sickly Dixie Collapses in the Exam Room

Persistent vomiting signals a potentially life-threatening problem, especially when paired with lethargy.

Regardless of the cause, dehydration caused by consistent vomiting can result in enough problems such as:

  • confusion/depression
  • low blood pressure and resulting organ damage
  • GI bleeding
  • seizures
  • brain damage
  • shock and death

Other complications of persistent, severe vomiting include:

  • electrolyte disturbances
  • aspiration pneumonia
  • esophageal damage
  • pH changes

Sounds scary? It is.

Further information: Severe Vomiting in Dogs: What Happens in a Dog’s Body with Severe Vomiting?

Vomiting and Collapse in a Dog: Sickly Dixie Collapses in the Exam Room

There are many potential causes of vomiting in dogs. The problem might originate in the digestive tract or result from systemic disease, organ failure, or poisoning.

Dixie’s story

Dixie was a 4-year-old female Labrador Retriever. You’d figure that when your Labrador starts vomiting, they likely ate something they shouldn’t have. However, Dixie did not have a history of eating stuff she shouldn’t. Dixie was intact, but her last season was four months prior–this is important because pyometra is a life-threatening infection in intact female dogs. Lethargy, vomiting, and loss of appetite can be symptoms of pyometra.

Dixie has always been healthy and vibrant. But that changed seemingly on a dime. Dixie started throwing up, refusing her food and becoming progressively lethargic.

Dixie was sick for four days before she made it to a specialty hospital.

At the specialty hospital

When Dixie got to see the specialty veterinarian, she was quiet but responsive. Then, however, she collapsed in the exam room.

The examination revealed signs of dehydration. Dixie’s breathing rate was increased, but she didn’t have difficulty breathing. However, her belly was swollen and painful to touch. Further, the veterinarian felt a mass in Dixie’s abdomen.

Dixie’s blood work revealed elevated kidney values and electrolyte abnormalities, as you’d expect with persistent vomiting. The veterinarian recommended x-rays, and Dixie’s parents agreed.

Dixie’s x-rays

Dixie didn’t need to be sedated to get her belly x-rayed. The images confirmed findings from the initial physical exam. Part of Dixie’s abdomen was swollen and full of gas. It was as if something was obstructing the flow of the intestinal content. However, the good news was that Dixie didn’t have GDV or pyometra. Instead, she had a GI disease of sorts or a foreign body.

The veterinarian recommended exploratory surgery to get to the bottom of Dixie’s problem.

Diagnosis and treatment

The first treatment Dixie received was IV fluids to correct the dehydration. Then the veterinarian placed a small tube to help remove some of the excess contents from Dixie’s GI tract.

As soon as Dixie stabilized, they whisked her away for her exploratory surgery. They found the culprit–a piece of towel obstructing Dixie’s small intestine. Everything else looked good.

Dixie got herself into trouble after swallowing something she shouldn’t, after all. However, Dixie recovered well and returned to her vibrant self once the obstruction was removed.

Source story: Canine Duodenal Foreign Body

Related articles:
Why Is My Dog Vomiting? Reasons Dogs Throw Up
Severe Vomiting in Dogs: What Happens in a Dog’s Body with Severe Vomiting?

Categories: Dog health advocacy

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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