Regurgitation vs Vomiting: What is the difference?
You hear the hacking sound, or the splat of liquid hitting the floor and you cringe because you know your pet just threw up. Or worse, you are walking around your house and your bare feet step in something squishy and you know you just stepped in throw up. If you are a pet owner, you know both of these scenarios well. But did your pet throw up or regurgitate? Does the difference matter? Yes it does. There is a big difference between regurgitation and vomiting, and persistent vomiting can indicate a bigger health issue that may need to be addressed.
Vomiting is a forceful ejection of stomach contents. It involves heaving stomach muscles, gagging, and stomach contents coming up through the esophagus and through the mouth. Vomiting contains stomach acid, can contain bile, and may not contain any food at all. The yellow or orangish fluid in vomit is bile.
Regurgitation is food coming back up that has never reached the stomach. There is no stomach acid in regurgitation, and it is always food. It is typically in the shape of a tube and is usually a mixture of food, saliva and sometime mucus. But never bile.
Typically regurgitation is not a big deal. Most pets do it at some point in time. If your pet regurgitates frequently, this could be a sign of a problem, like a blockage in their esophagus and should be evaluated by your Albuquerque Veterinarian.
Vomiting is usually indicative of something being wrong with your pet. This does not mean you need to rush your pet to the vet every time they vomit. Sometimes it could just be a stomach upset, or maybe they ate too much grass. If your pet vomits frequently, or you see a lot of bile in their vomit, this could be a sign of something wrong and you should call your veterinarian.
If you are not sure if it is vomitus or regurgitus, when you speak to your vet you can describe what you saw and they will be able to let you know.