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Why does our dog vomit after breakfast?

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Q: My dog regurgitates 95 percent of the time after she eats her "breakfast,'' the first meal of the day. There's never a problem after she eats other meals. She's now on a special diet, but that hasn't helped. My vet suggested a surgery to cut the sphincter muscle. Does this make sense to you?

T. M., Orlando, Fla.

A: Dr. Colin Burroughs, an internal medicine specialist and chair of the small animal clinical science department at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Gainesville, says the surgery you speak of requires cutting the muscle at the junction of the stomach and small intestine. It's an appropriate surgery when that muscle has grown too much, and won't relax, therefore preventing the stomach from emptying. However, this condition, called pyloric hypertrophy, is typically seen in only a few breeds, mostly miniature and toy dogs. Also, dogs with this condition usually vomit several hours after eating, as opposed to immediately after a meal. "Consider verifying the diagnosis with a board- certified specialist in internal medicine,'' Burroughs said.

Your dog may simply be scarfing down her first meal too fast. Try feeding her that first meal from Kong, Busy Buddy or Dogzilla toys. These are toys that you pour kibble into. Dogs have to roll the toys for the kibble to fall out. Aside from being fun, it'll slow down your dog's eating habits since only a few pieces of kibble fall out of the toys at a time. If your dog is on moist food, split up her morning meal into four portions and place each part in a dish in various places around the house. Aside from the fun of searching out her food - and additional exercise - she'll be able to inhale only a quarter of the food she did previously. There's no downside to slowing down her food intake, and doing so might just solve your dog's problem.

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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