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So, my mom called me yesterday, panicking. I barely understood what she was talking about. After some mumbling and talking through her tears, I finally figured out what was wrong. It was her dog, Miso.

Now, my parents are big GSD lovers and they’ve taken care of them their entire lives. But, what happened to Miso was a first. 

Apparently, Miso started throwing up. Bear in mind, Miso is a new GSD in the house, and he has been with them for just a couple of days. She just got him because her friend couldn’t take care of him anymore. 

Miso is a smol pupper, at only three months of age. He’s still a baby learning how to deal with the world around him. 

After she calmed down, she explained to me that Miso started throwing up every time he drank water. Those were small amounts of food and water, but this morning, he threw up big… his entire breakfast! 

Of course, I rushed to her and drove them to her vet, my colleague, where Miso got diagnosed.

Although I assumed other things might be the problem as to why Miso was throwing up, I couldn’t ignore one major issue that turned out to be true for Miso. 

Here’s what happened to my mom’s new GSD puppy, and here’s why dogs usually throw up after drinking water!

Miso’s Diagnosis: The Megaesophagus

german shepherd dog drinking water from a metal bowlgerman shepherd dog drinking water from a metal bowl

Miso is at the age when megaesophagus usually gets diagnosed. It was my first thought when mom described his condition. My suspicions were right: Dr. Bill diagnosed him with megaesophagus. 

Miso’s previous owner had no idea the pup had this condition, and my mom scheduled him for a vet checkup next week. And, Miso’s abrupt reaction sped up the diagnosis. 

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Megaesophagus is a rare condition, and sadly, Miso has it. This condition affects the dog’s esophagus (or the tube that sends food and water from the mouth to the stomach). 

What happens to the esophagus is that it becomes enlarged and doesn’t send the food and water the way it’s supposed to. Dogs start having trouble swallowing, they start regurgitating content, and in some cases, even show food and water absorption into the lungs. 

While megaesophagus can develop at any life stage, Miso’s case is congenital, meaning he was born with it. |1| 

This means Miso will need lifelong treatment and vet supervision. Dr. Bill prescribed him meds that will help his esophagus move properly. In addition, mom has to change his diet to something easier to swallow, buy him elevated bowls, and redistribute his meals throughout the day.

We had luck with diagnosing what was wrong with Miso. Mom says it was terrifying seeing him throw up a bit every time he drank water. If we didn’t react in time, Miso would have developed additional symptoms like lack of energy, coughing, bad breath, respiratory issues, etc.

I always assume the worst-case scenario, and this time, I was right. But, this doesn’t mean that every dog that throws up after drinking water will have the same diagnosis. Megaesophagus is still pretty uncommon.

However, there are other reasons that might cause this unusual canine behavior. Stick with me as I explain them all!

1. Dehydration 

german shepherd drinking water from a plastic cupgerman shepherd drinking water from a plastic cup

You know how we gulp down water like crazy after running or spending lots of time in the sun? Sometimes, gulping down huge amounts of water actually hurts me… I don’t know about you. 

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Well, kinda the same thing happens with dogs.

When dogs get dehydrated, they start gulping down water like they’ve never seen it before. Such a huge amount of water may cause your dog to throw up because, let’s face it, their tummy can’t really handle it. 

Ideally, your dog should never become dehydrated. But, in case he does, and he starts throwing up, make sure to control his water intake. Better yet, limit it before the throwing up even begins. Smaller, but frequent visits to the water bowl are always a better idea.

2. Bacterial Or Parasitic Infections

german shepherd dog lying on the grass in front of bowl with watergerman shepherd dog lying on the grass in front of bowl with water

Well, this is a pretty obvious reason. Bacterial or parasitic infections are behind lots of trouble found with dogs. 

It’s quite simple: when a dog drinks water that is contaminated with bacteria like E. Coli, Giardia, Salmonella, etc., he will develop an infection and start throwing up as one of the symptoms.  

This usually occurs when a dog drinks from untested water sources like lakes, rivers, puddles, etc. So, better not allow your dog to drink from such places.

3. Bile Or Acid Reflux

german shepherd dog drinking water from a bowl in the yardgerman shepherd dog drinking water from a bowl in the yard

When a dog’s esophageal sphincter loosens up (the muscular ring at the entrance of the stomach), stomach content will start going up the esophagus. In this case, bile or acid that’s being used to separate nutrients from any waste will get regurgitated. 

Dogs that have issues with this reflux often suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux disease.

In case of GERD or AR, the affected dog will start throwing up everything, including water! |1| 

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You should take him to the vet, especially if you notice other symptoms like pain, discomfort, burping, flatulence, excessive throwing up, licking lips, etc. 

4. Gastrointestinal Blockage

german shepherd dog drinks out of a puddle of water on the streetgerman shepherd dog drinks out of a puddle of water on the street

It’s not uncommon for dogs of all breeds to swallow a foreign object. Most often, those are socks, hair ties, pieces of toys, rocks, bones, and even garbage. 

Gastrointestinal blockage is something severe and should be treated immediately. Basically, your dog’s stomach will become too full to receive anything more than the swallowed object. Even drops of water might irritate it and make the dog throw up.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to get the dog to pass what he swallowed. In most cases, the vet has to intervene, do an X-ray, and sometimes even operate on the dog to relieve him from such distress. 

5. Food Sensitivity

german shepherd dog drinking water from red bowl in owners handgerman shepherd dog drinking water from red bowl in owners hand

When a dog has a sensitive stomach caused by an improper diet, he will become sensitive to pretty much anything, even water! That’s why some dogs throw up after drinking water. Everything seems to make their tummy hurt. An immediate change of diet is in order. 

Food sensitivity can develop over time, so it’s better to watch what you feed your dog. German Shepherds are usually allergic to grains, eggs, and dairy products. |3| This requires vet assistance in building a new diet prescription for the affected dog. 

To Sum Up…

From megaesophagus to the least severe reasons behind throwing up after drinking water, like food sensitivity or dehydration – I know it’s a lot to process.

If your dog is having similar problems, and you’re worried it may develop into something more severe, don’t waste time. Consult your vet immediately!

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I can share my experiences and give you advice, but I’m still not your dog’s chosen vet. Take him to someone who has insight into his overall health.

As for my mom’s dog, Miso, he’s now fine. He doesn’t throw up after drinking water anymore, but he’s on a prescription and a special diet, so there’s that. 

Sources: 

|1| M. Saravanan1 , V. Sasikala and M. Murugan. Megaesophagus in Dogs. 2010. DOI

|2| Wallace P. Ritchie Jr. M.D., Ph.D. Role of bile acid reflux in acute hemorrhagic gastritis. 1981. DOI

|3| Rakshanda Bhagat, Amir Amin Sheikh, VS Wazir, Aditya Mishra and Uttarani Maibam. Food allergy in canines: A review. 2017. DOI

By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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