Why the heck do dogs regurgitate raw dog food?
That’s what I was wondering several months into feeding my pups Missy & Buzz raw dog food back in 2015. Buzz was totally fine, but Missy started bringing it back up almost immediately after she ate it.
Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated in 2022. It contains affiliate links I may earn occasional compensation through at no additional cost to you.
After she did, she’d look at me almost as if to ask for permission to re-eat it. Since I didn’t object, she ate it, and this time around it stayed down.
She wasn’t lethargic and her stools looked great. For some reason, she just had to re-eat her food. Thankfully, I ended up figuring out what the problem was!
In this blog post, I’ll share what I learned, including:
- Dog regurgitation vs vomit – what’s the difference?
- How to prevent regurgitation in dogs (specifically raw-fed pups)
Short-Term Solution: Air-Dried Raw Dog Food ZiwiPeak
First things first, I cleaned up several spots of the regurgitated leftovers in the carpeted living room and my office. My favorite pet stain cleaner is Spot Shot by the way. Most grocery stores carry it, and so does Amazon.
After that, I decided to try a different approach and re-introduced ZiwiPeak. That’s an air-dried raw dog food from New Zealand I had fed back in 2013.
I had a feeling that she would not bring the air-dried food back up and sure enough, my intuition was spot-on.
She ate her ZiwiPeak no problem, i.e. without regurgitating it. I also added a little greek yogurt.
Why Do Dogs Regurgitate Raw Dog Food? The Difference Between Dog Regurgitation vs Vomit
It wasn’t until her recent regurgitating episodes that I learned about the difference between dog regurgitation vs vomiting.
When a dog regurgitates, she makes the food resurface from the esophagus fairly effortlessly without heaving and retching, and then tries to re-eat it.
When a dog vomits, she ejects the contents of the stomach and upper intestine by heaving and retching.
Missy eats too fast
One of the reasons why a dog may regurgitate is because she eats her food too fast. Now, Missy has always had a tendency of eating too fast. She was the runt of her litter of 9, and had to fight the hardest for her milk.
I tackled this problem several years ago in our kibble feeding days and added a pacer ball to her food dish. That forced her to push the ball around in order to get to all of her food, i.e. making her eat slower.
However, even with the pacer ball AND having her sit and wait for a few moments in between bites, she would STILL regurgitate her fresh raw dog food.
Technically, she was fine when she re-ate it since she didn’t feel or act sick, but I’d much rather NOT have her regurgitate her food.
Are you ready for the solution?! Here it comes.
Why Do Dogs Regurgitate Raw Dog Food? Regurgitation Advice From Darwin’s Natural Pet & Raw Paws Pet Food
Advice from Darwin’s Natural Pet
Ashley, a Darwin’s representative, got back to me very quickly.
She explained that some dogs regurgitate their meals within about an hour after they ate.
That’s because it may have been too cold or not thawed all the way. Another issue may be that the portion was too large or that the dog ate too fast.
How to Prevent Regurgitation in Dogs: 3 Solutions
She recommended I try the following options:
a) Splitting up Missy’s meals, and feeding her the smaller portions throughout the day.
b) Trying to warm up her food in a frying pan to take off the chill.
Another option would be to pour boiling water over the pouch or right over the food and serve after letting it cool off a little.
c) Slowing her eating down by placing something large into her bowl, forcing her to eat around it.
Options a & c didn’t seem to work since I had already tried giving her really small amounts of the food. I had also placed the pacer ball into her dish, and had her sit & wait in between bites.
Warming Missy’s Raw Dog Food Up
I had not yet tried warming the food up in a frying pan. I had a feeling that this approach might work nicely for Missy since I had fed cooked protein at the very beginning of our transition from kibble to raw.
And sure enough, Missy had no trouble keeping her cooked Darwin’s food down!
While this was good news, I was still somewhat bummed that she’d have to be eating cooked raw food or air-dried raw like ZiwiPeak.
Both options are still very healthy, but ultimately I wanted to feed both pups fresh raw dog food.
However, Ashleigh relieved my worries. She mentioned that lightly cooking the meals in my kitchen is nothing compared to the high heat kibble is cooked at.
She said that there won’t be any nutrient loss by lightly warming up the Darwin’s food in a pan.
Over time, the need for warming the meals up should be weaned off to feeding it at refrigerator temperature again.
Advice from Raw Paws Pet Food
Raw Paws Pet Food offered very similar advice to the kind I got from Darwin’s.
I hopped on a phone call with Shelli from Raw Paws Pet Food for a little over 45 minutes. She is the co-owner of Raw Paws and a feeding consultant.
Shelli explained that some dogs just don’t tolerate meat coming right out of the freezer or fridge.
She therefore suggested letting the meat warm up to room temperature and see how Missy would do with this approach.
Btw, she also explained the theory behind Missy’s regurgitation. When Missy regurgitates her raw dog food, it came up at least a little warmer than it was initially. After all, it went into her warm body, if only for as little as 20 seconds.
I never thought of this as Missy’s very own “microwaving” method and apologized to my little girl for not having picked up her clues any sooner!
Why Do Dogs Regurgitate Raw Dog Food? Bottom Line
And sure enough, Missy eventually got used to eating raw dog food without regurgitating it.
It took some patience and a slightly different approach than the one I took with Buzz. With him, I could simply offer him the raw dog food as is.
Then I stopped cooking the meals but still let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
I did that for a few weeks as well, and then just offered her the raw food at fridge temperature.
Now she’s perfectly fine eating her raw dog food cold!
Dogs like her may just have a sensitive stomach and need to take a slower approach to raw feeding.
The quality of food from both brands is top notch, it’s super convenient to feed, and their customer service along with the willingness to offer helpful advice is equally great!
Tip: You can get your first 10 lbs of raw dog food from Darwin’s for only $14.95.
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Have you or someone you know experienced regurgitation in a dog? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!