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Vomiting Golden Retriever.

Species: Dog
Breed: Golden Retriever
Age: 5-8 years
I have a 8-year-old golden retriever that has been vomiting for the past 36 hours. The vomit consists of a white foamy substance, that almost looks like a sac or even a sock. She hacks a bit and then just vomits. She seems to vomit up everything she takes in, within about an hour or so, irregardless of what it is. We hadn't changed her diet at all recently, although I did try giving her an antacid this morning mixed in some rice and hamburger. Also, she does seem to be having normal bowel movements.

Just a little history here -- she is a large dog, weighing approximately 120 lbs and has always (for the last several years) had a distended belly. She has been on a diet of 1 cup of dry dog food, twice a day, for about the last 2 years, with little to no weight loss. She has not been a very active dog since her surgery for pyometra, three years ago. Also, immediately after the surgery she developed seizures. To control that, she is currently on 243mg of phenobarbital twice per day, as well as potassium bromide.

I took her to the vet today and he ran some blood work. He found that her ALP was "very high," although he didn't give me the exact value, however, all of the other values (thyroid, WBC, RBC, etc) were completely normal and she was not running a fever. We left with her being given a healthy dose of antibiotics. He called tonight with the bloodwork findings, saying that this could be the result of any number of things and that the next step is to go to a regional diagnostic pet hospital for further evaluation.

My concern, is the unnecessary wear on my dog. Things haven't been easy for her since the onset of seizures, although they are under control now. I don't want to put her through unnecessary testing and pain, just to find out there's no hope. How concerned should I be here? I am worried that we may to put her down. What are your thoughts? Do you have any ideas as to what this could be?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your question. This is a really tough question to answer because I can think of a great number of conditions that could be causing Kaylee to vomit. Some are serious and some are not. Unfortunately you may not be able to tell the difference between these conditions without doing more tests.

You mentioned that she hacks a bit and then vomits. I have seen some dogs where the owner thought that they were vomiting, but in reality they were coughing to the point of retching. You may want to ask your vet if there is a possibility that Kaylee has a virus like kennel cough. If this is the case then she may just get over it on her own in a few more days. Or, the vet can prescribe a cough suppressant such as hycodan.

Kennel cough wouldn't cause a high ALP. But, many dogs will just have a high ALP so this could just be normal for her.

It could also be a mild gastritis (upset stomach). Often we don't know the cause of this.

Pancreatitis is another possibility which would be more serious. But if she is eating then this is less likely.

Any time a Golden is vomiting I wonder about a foreign object as many of them like to eat things that they shouldn't. This is why one of the next steps, if she is not getting better, is to have xrays done. Hopefully it is not a foreign object because she may need surgery if it is.

Some of the more serious causes for vomiting like kidney disease or liver disease should cause us to see more changes in the bloodwork.

The other fear that I have with Goldens is for some type of cancer as this breed can be more prone to cancer. However, sudden vomiting is not usually a sign of cancer. I would usually expect to see just a slow decline and lack of appetite and weight loss. This makes me think that cancer is less likely.

It sounds like your vet is doing the same things that I would do. I think that if she is not improving then having some xrays done would be a good next step. And again, I think it's worthwhile to ask your vet if kennel cough is possible. You can read more information here about kennel cough. That article also includes videos of coughing dogs that you can compare to see if Kaylee is doing anything similar.

I hope things improve soon!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Dr. Marie,

I spoke with my vet and he expressed the concern that Kaylee may have had esophagus paralysis. Yesterday she perked right up. I don't know what the cause of the issue was, but she seems to be doing a lot better. She does still have a little bit of a cough here or there, mainly when she goes upstairs, etc., but overall she seems back to normal. I don't know if it was just a flu or what. I mean, she had vomit coming out her nose and her eyes were running. She stopped eating and would throw up no what she took in (water, food, etc). Today, she seems fine, although acting a bit ravaged. She is very hungry. Do you think that this was all just a flu or cough and that the antibiotics cured it? I don't want to have false hope here, but it's crazy thinking that the vet was suggesting that we may need to put her down two days ago and now she seems normal.

Any help would be great!

Thank you,


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Interesting. I can't say that I have ever seen a dog with esophageal paralysis.

However, if she is improving this really does make it sound like it was some sort of viral thing. I am still guessing that this was kennel cough but your vet obviously has a better vantage point than I do.

I hope she continues to improve!

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.