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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mysterious Vomiting

Melinda emailed me with this...

My aunt has a 9 year old boxer that has been vomiting for the last 3 weeks. She has taken her to the vet. Bloodwork was normal. Tried a different diet, as well as medications: still vomiting. The boxer is acting normal. She is clearly hungry and wants to eat. She tries to hand my aunt her food bowl. Her vet is baffled. My aunt did say that it has been a year since the boxers mother passed away (my aunt owned her as well). She was curious if it could be grieving? Any clues? I have never heard of this happening before. 

Sounds like a strange case.  I definitely wouldn't think it's grieving.  First, it's been a long time and a dog's memory isn't that good.  Second, grieving normally won't cause vomiting.  Any diarrhea? There could be an inflammatory bowel disease problem.  An older boxer shouldn't be developing allergies (such as food-related), so I don't think that would be the case.

If all of that has been considered, I'd recommend an abdominal ultrasound.  Years ago I had a cat that had very similar symptoms and it ended up being stomach cancer.  I didn't figure that out until the cancer had spread so much that I could palpate it in the abdomen.  All tests had been normal up to that point.  I did an exploratory surgery but the mass involved too much of the stomach to be operable and I ended up euthanizing him before he woke up from anesthesia.  A boxer is big enough that a smaller mass near the pylorus (outflow of the stomach into the intestine) may not be felt and wouldn't show up on x-rays.  An ultrasound would easily detect something like this.  That's where I would proceed next.


  1. Boxers are cancer making I'd with Chris here - abdominal u/s ASAP.

  2. This is just an anecdote, but my boyfriend's 4 yr old dog starting vomiting every morning for about a week, but he seemed normal otherwise. We took him to the vet and bloodwork was fine. The vet suggested we feed him more times per day (he normally got fed once per day). She said she had a boxer that had to eat 3 times per day or else he would vomit. Lucky for us as soon as we broke his meal into 2 meals/day it stopped. Granted, this dog is a small, young, healthy mutt.

  3. Just found your site, and I've been reading through your older posts. I'm a 4th year vet student. This may be a little out there, but it was hounded into me by VetPrep while studying for the NAVLE, lol...what if it is actually regurg, not vomiting. Maybe megaesophagus secondary to a thymoma? I realize this case is probably long over, just wondering if this could be a possibility.

  4. Regurgitation is always something to consider. I've blogged about that topic before and it is important to determine vomiting versus regurgitation. In this case it sounds like vomiting, but always keep both in mind once you become a vet. Good luck with the NAVLE!


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