Many dog owners may find it surprising that dogs have a vomiting center in their brain, perhaps even more surprisingly, humans have one too! When dogs vomit, it’s often assumed that it’s some sort of coordinated effort between the stomach contractions and expulsion of the contents out of the mouth, but it all actually starts in the dog’s vomiting center located in the brain. So today we discover more about this center, how it works, what it does and what role it plays in a dog’s life. All interesting stuff!
Introducing Your Dog’s Vomiting Center
Hello, I am your dog’s vomiting center! I am also known as the emetic center, just so you know. I am basically located by the medulla oblungata, a cone-shaped mass that’s responsible for several involuntary functions such as sneezing and vomiting. Special receptors, cells whose main job is transmit a signal to a sensory nerve, communicate with me courtesy of several sympathetic nerves. Trigger these receptors and their signals will reach me quickly and soon your dog will soon start salivating, get a bout of nausea, and possibly, vomit.
While many nerves are located throughout your dog’s digestive tract, some may be located elsewhere. For example, if your dog is prone to getting car sick, the vestibular system in his inner ear (your dog’s balance system) has special motion receptors that will alert me and trigger Rover to drool, and possibly, loose his meal all over your car seats. Since many nerves that lead to me are located mostly in the upper portions of your dog’s digestive tract, when your dog eats something that doesn’t agree with him, the nervous system around your dog’s gut will transmit signals to me via the vagus nerve, so that food can be brought back up. The nerves that travel to me are also sensitive to stretching. This means that if your dog devours a whole lot of food at once, I may be triggering the vomiting reflex.
Did you know? Dogs have quite a powerful vomiting center compared to other animals, possibly because of their history as scavenging animals. According to board-certified veterinarian David Twedt, from an evolutionary standpoint, vomiting is a defense mechanism for getting rid of rancid food or toxic substances that stimulate the dog’s chemoreceptor trigger zone.
I Save Lives
Vomiting may seem like a bothersome condition, but if you think about it, in many cases, it can be a life saving event for both you and your dog. When special chemoreceptors detect chemical abnormalities and poisons throughout your dog’s body, I am activated so that these substances quickly leave your dog’s system preventing him from absorbing toxins that could potentially kill him.
“Adjacent to the emetic center is a special clusters of receptors that constantly monitor the blood and the cerebrospinal fluid for chemicals that can stimulate vomiting. This specialized clusters of receptors is called the chemoreceptor trigger zone, CRTZ or CTZ. ~Robert L. Bill
Did you know? The most effective drugs against nausea and vomiting are those that act at both the vomiting center and the chemoreceptor trigger zone, says board-certified veterinarian Todd R. Tams.
I Signal Trouble
I often act like a warning light that pops up on your dog’s health dashboard. Because I receive several inputs from inflamed or injured vital organs such as the dog’s kidneys or liver, I may trigger vomiting. This vomiting is the body’s way to get rid of build-up of wastes from the dog’s blood coming from malfunctioning organs. This vomiting is often what triggers dog owners to bring their companion to the vet and provides an important puzzle piece that instigates investigation, especially in elderly dogs.
As seen, I am quite important! Think about it, life without me would spell disaster! Your dog would not be able to get rid of toxic substances from the body, and therefore, without me a dog would die very quickly. Horse lovers know very well how unfortunate it is that horses aren’t equipped with the ability to vomit as dogs, so next time you see your dog vomit, think about me helping your dog feel better, but don’t take me for granted. While I may do a good job in removing things that don’t agree with your dog’s body, I can only do so much. It’s ultimately your job is to ensure your dog is kept safe and doesn’t eat harmful things in the first place. It never hurts to be extra cautious! I hope this article has helped you understand me better!
Your Dog’s Vomiting Center
Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is vomiting, please see your vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Flickr Creative Commons, Dale, PJ’s a sick girl, She’s suffering from Irritable bowel syndrome. We have an appointment with a new vet, hoping he can do something to help her out. CCBY2.0