Have you ever noticed that your dog occasionally goes mad for grass and can’t stop eating it until they are sick?
This is a perfectly natural process seen across animal kingdom and is called purging, but why do they do this?
A purge allows the animal to expel unwanted matter from the stomach including incompatible foods, unprocessed chemicals from commercial pet food, treats and medications, hairballs or random items that they may have eaten. In the wild, animals use also this method to expel parasites from the stomach.
During a herbal self-medication session a dog (or sometimes a cat) may consume a plant extract like barley grass, or a fat such as coconut oil, and then vomit a quantity of that product, combined with a thick, slimy mucous which has been coating the harmful chemicals and substances that have remained undigested in the gut, protecting your animal until they are able to expel it, and it’s this mucous that differentiates a purge to a ‘normal vomit’.
Purging usually happens almost immediately (so protect your carpets or put your pet outside!), and sometimes reoccurs later that day, or sometime in the next 24 hours. Occasionally they may bring up unwanted matter over the course of several days. Provided they are happy and otherwise well in themselves, then this is absolutely normal and nothing to worry about.
Purging is normally followed a period of increased rest, so allow your animal some time out after a purge, and make sure lots of fresh water is available.
This may not be a ‘nice’ process for us to clean up, but it’s a great cleanser for your dog, so allowing them to purge occasionally is a natural and beneficial process.
Ok, here’s the graphic bit…
Some people want to know what to expect. If you’re not one of those people, please stop reading now. There is a photo link and a ‘detailed’ description coming up!
Happy to read on?
If you aren’t perturbed by the sight of a puddle of vomit, please feel free to see what a purge looks like. This dog selected a large quantity of hemp powder which is the brown bits, and a small amount of coconut oil to facilitate a purge. The white bits are all the mucous that have been holding on to the unwanted materials in the stomach. Better out than in!
What’s really interesting is that she had also ingested lots of other botanicals, but none of these were present in the purged materials, which demonstrates how clever a dog’s stomach is at sorting out the good stuff they need to keep from the nasty stuff that needs to be expelled.