The World Health Organization (WHO) describes stress as “…any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain.”1 Stress is an occupational hazard for humans and can result in less-than-optimal situations in dogs as well.2
Stress is integral to the fight-or-flight response. Organisms evolved to feel stress as a way to warn the body of potential danger. It works well when it’s needed, but it’s another thing when your stress works itself into overdrive. That’s when it can cause harmful effects. After all, you or your pup can’t stay in this stressed mode all the time. So, yes, a dog may vomit from stress.
Effects of the Fight-or-Flight Response
The goal of the fight-or-flight response is to optimize an organism’s reaction to stress. That means directing energy resources to where they’re needed most. Therefore, it puts certain passive processes of the parasympathetic nervous system on pause, such as digestion. Instead, a stressed body often focuses on other things.
Consequences of the Stress Responses
Keep in mind that while stress is certainly felt during life-or-death situations, it can be felt at other times that might not be all that dangerous in reality.
Any of these conditions can threaten a dog, thus triggering a stress response that may involve vomiting or diarrhea.
Remember that vomiting is an extreme response. You should concentrate on relieving the problem, otherwise, it will continue to affect your pup and may escalate.
What to Do if Your Dog Is Vomiting
Long-term stress is just as harmful to your pup as it is to you. So, be sure to take your dog on daily walks, give them balanced food, and keep them mentally stimulated. And if your dog vomits multiple times within a 24-hour period, it is strongly advisable to bring them to the vet for a check-up!
Vomiting is dangerous because it can dehydrate your dog quickly. The veterinarian might administer fluid therapy to your dog, take x-rays, and administer an anti-nausea injection as needed. If the problem persists, the vet will need to examine your dog further to see if there is another cause for the gastrointestinal issues.
Life is full of stressors, which is why it’s not uncommon for a dog to get an upset stomach or throw up when faced with one of life’s many challenges. Basically, if your dog is throwing up, it’s a sign that something is wrong, and you should probably take them in to get checked out by a professional. After all, prolonged stress can be extremely dangerous!