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Dog Boarding/Kenneling/dogs not eating and vomiting bile


We just opened a small kennel and we encounter one common problem. Dogs who do not want to eat. With most dogs, you take away the bowl and the serve again the food next meal, until they decide to eat. But how do you handle dogs who will vomit bile because their stomach is empty for too long? These dogs refuse breakfast, will eat dinner but will vomit in the middle of the day and in the morning. Repeated bile vomiting twice a day during a long stay could lead to stomach erosion. Is it an acceptable practice to mix in a little bit of canned food or something else into the dog's morning meal? Does this condition warrant a vet visit, even if the dog is normal, active and playful? Would it be risky to try giving Pepcid? Normally, you would ask the owners permission to add food or try OTC medications, but what if you cannot get in contact with them? We have them fill out a form where we ask if the dog has allergies to any foods so we can give treats, does that means it's OK even to add some canned food to their dry to entice them to eat? thank you for any time. We purchased many books on opening a kennel but none prepare you for making these important decisions.

Hi Melissa,
Thank-you for your question.  We have encountered this problem many times since we started running the kennel in 1998.

We have a few things we have tried though the years that have usually helped the pet eat and avoid vomiting bile. I usually don't give any of the OTC medications too often, although you can always try one of the liquids available in the pet store which are similar to kaopectate.  Some owners will give me Pepto bismol in case this happens and I do keep some on hand but only use it when things are quite bad.  It will turn the stool very black, also.  I have had owners provide me with Pepcid also.

To encourage the pet to eat, you can try the following:

-Add some warm water to the food
-Purchase some chicken or beef broth (of course make sure the pet doesn't have allergies to these foods).  Warm up the broth and add to the food. Make sure it doesn't have onion added.
-Sprinkle some parmesan cheese (or other type) on food. You do need to be cautious with this, too, as some pets may be allergic to dairy.
-Grind up liver treats or any type of treat the pet likes and sprinkle on the food.
-With wet food, I am cautious trying this as I have found that the next day the dog may get diarrhea then you have another problem on you hands!  I usually try a very small amount heated up with some broth at first to see if the pet's stomach gets upset.
-Even feeding the pet outside or sitting with them often helps.  You can try hand feeding and encouragement - often if they know another dog is in the next yard, they will decide to eat.
-Sometimes a piece of brown bread between meals helps or a few treats so the stomach isn't totally empty

Running a kennel is a great job when everything is going well, but it can be very stressful when you encounter problems such as these.  It sounds like you have the right procedures in place - feel free to look at my pet information form on to see what we have the owner's fill out.  

If in doubt at all regarding the pet's health, I would take them to the vet.

Please let me know if you require further information.
Kathy Carter, B.Sc.
Home Alone Pet Cottages

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Kathy Carter


Can answer questions about boarding pets. Cannot answer medical questions about pets.


12 years running a boarding kennel for dogs and cats, boarding up to 30 dogs and 12 cats each day and running the business myself

Canadian Kennel Club

Article published in local newsletter regarding pet boarding

Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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