If dogs are left alone with too much kibble, they may eat too much of it. The kibble is then rehydrated in the dog's stomach, where it swells and can become double the size it was when dry. If you're lucky, the dog will vomit the excess and avoid stretching the stomach.
Can Kibble Cause Vomiting?
Yes, dry dog food sometimes known as kibble, can cause vomiting. Kibble is a dehydrated food and is deliberately made to smell very appetising. Given an unlimited supply of this moreish dog food, dogs will tend to wolf down way more than they need.
Kibble Is Dry - But It's Rehydrated In The Stomach
The kibble sits in the dog's stomach, where it is rehydrated. It swells, becoming easily twice the size it was when it was dry, in the bowl.
If you are lucky, the dog will manage to vomit the excess, so the stomach doesn’t end up being stretched.
You've probably experienced this yourselves when eating too much of something delicious that is dry. You tummy ends up feeling seriously distended and uncomfortable.
A Distended Stomach Causes Other Issues
As the distended stomach takes up a huge space in the abdomen, it presses up against the diaphragm, reducing the space available for breathing. If your dog suffers from any breathing difficulty, this event will exacerbate it, big time.
The heart also shares the thoracic cavity with the lungs, so if this whole cavity is smaller because it’s being compressed by an overfull stomach and abdominal cavity, heart function will also be compromised.
This will naturally lead to your dog being less energetic, unwilling to come out for walks, wanting to sleep a lot and puffing and panting much of the time, especially for an hour or so after eating a big bowl of kibble.
Most Kibble Is Toxic
Another reason dogs may vomit their kibble is because their body is already suffering from the toxicity of having eaten kibble day in day out for years.
They cannot process any more of the toxins in the kibble. Quite often, they are too hungry to leave it, so they will slowly and reluctantly eat some of the partially digested kibble they just vomited.
Group Feeding May Make Things Worse
In a group feeding situation, a dog may feel pressured to eat the bowl full of kibble as fast as possible, to prevent the other dogs from eating it. This dog may well go out into the garden and vomit up the rapidly swallowed kibble.
In peace and quiet, the dog can then slowly eat it again. The dog is effectively using the stomach as a carrier bag!
Gastric Dilatation And Torsion
Another dangerous side effect of overfilling the stomach and not managing to vomit out the excess is the increased chance of the stomach twisting on itself, resulting in the life-threatening gastric dilatation and torsion.
Full of hydrating kibble, the stomach hangs in the abdominal cavity like a lead balloon. It is unstable and swings from side to side as the dog moves, especially in deep chested breeds.
If the dog makes a sudden movement to the side, or rolls over, the stomach can flip over too, rotating on the oesophagus (swallowing pipe) and the duodenum (first bit of the small intestine).
This blocks the exits from the stomach completely, so the dog cannot vomit or burp, nor can the digested food move along the digestive tract. The blood supply to the stomach becomes severely impaired.
Gas Fills The Stomach
Packed with swelling kibble which starts to ferment, the stomach expands even more as it fills up with gas. The lining of the stomach, the gastric mucosa, absorbs the products of fermentation and any other toxins and nutrients that are released during this process. This makes the dog feel absolutely terrible.
Unable to burp, the stomach continues to expand and the dog gradually suffocates and dies. You may have seen this happening with sheep when they are very pregnant and get stuck on their backs, unable to burp out the gases of fermentation (see Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy)
This is an absolute emergency. Your dog will die withing a few hours unless you get to the vet for emergency surgery.
Prevent Problems With Kibble
Prevention is of course much the best option! If you want to continue feeding kibble, feed small amounts, mix in a top quality supplement which includes enzymes to help with digestion and ensure there is plenty of fresh water available at all times.
It is best for your dog to be well hydrated at all times, but especially before eating dry food such as kibble.