Vomiting (in Dogs, Causes and Cures)

How To Raise A Dog In The City and SuburbsFrom the book How to Raise a Dog in the city and in the Suburbsby Dr. James R. Kinney with Ann Honeycutt (illustrated by James Thurber):

Due to their feeble-mindedness about eating anything and everything that comes their way, dogs let themselves in for all kinds of stomach upsets. Many of these upsets are minor. The dog eats something undesirable, the stomach rebels, vomiting follows, and that’s all there is to it. Any dog should be allowed to vomit once or twice with no questions asked. If he continues though, try to diagnose the trouble. Continued vomiting can mean worms or a foreign object in the stomach or throat; it can be a symptom of oncoming distemper, hepatitis, or other diseases, poisoning, constipation, or kidney disorder.

The treatment, of-course, depends upon the cause, but the first step in any case is to take the dog off food for twenty-four hours. Don’t give him water either, just cracked ice occasionally. The next step is to clean out his system and quiet his stomach down. Give him an enema and a dose of milk of magnesia. If he vomits up the milk of magnesia, don’t repeat it — just give the enema. Use warm water for this with bicarbonate of soda, a teaspoonful to a pint. Use any ordinary human rectal syringe or an infant-sized one, depending on the size of the dog. To settle his stomach, give two and half grains each of bismuth subnitrate and cerium oxolate in the white of an egg, or, if you haven’t this, or can’t get it, give rhubarb and soda or plain bismuth in the white of an egg, with a little whisky. This treatment should be given every two hours until the vomiting stops. If it doesn’t stop and the dog seems to be weakening fast, if there is blood in the vomitus, or if the vomitus is black or a dark brownish green, or if there is a temperature, get professional help at once.

Of-course, any book which recommends giving your dog whisky as part of a concoction to settle its stomach must be my favorite book on dog care, and indeed this one is. I was lucky enough to pick up the 1953 edition in a used bookstore and I heartily recommend it if you can get it via Amazonor somewhere else. In particular, I recommend forwarding this extract to anyone you know who needs to be put off the idea of getting a dog in the first place.

While I truly love passages like the one above for their sheer literary value, I don’t necessarily endorse the implementation of that precise regimen when your dog throws up. In the first place, as the good doctor himself says, a little throwing up is no reason for panic. In cases of continued distress, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, I do tend with my own dog to lean on Pepto-Bismol (cherry-flavored) and — especially if eating is not taking place — a little Gatorade (or coconut water) to keep the strength up. I have never attempted, well, treatment from the other end, and may God be between us and all harm.


However, each situation is different and of-course you should always consult with your local veterinarian, as my legal team reminds me. As to rye, bourbon, scotch or Irish, I think that decision properly rests between you, your pooch and your bartender.

Dog, whiskey