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Vomiting & Diarrhea in Pets - What To Do

Vomiting and diarrhea are very common signs of gastrointestinal upset in pets, but it can be challenging to pinpoint why your dog or cat is experiencing these symptoms since there are many possible causes. Here, our North Boulder vets discuss what to do if your pet is experiencing these symptoms.

Cat & Dog Diarrhea and Vomiting

An inflamed, irritated stomach or intestines, or gastrointestinal upset (GI upset), can lead to vomiting and diarrhea for cats and dogs. 

Although these symptoms are incredibly unpleasant to deal with, vomiting is one of the most efficient ways for your pet to rid their stomach of indigestible material, so it doesn't make its way further into your animal's system. 

Diarrhea often occurs when indigestible material has gone all the way through your animal's digestive system and makes its way to the pet's intestinal tract.

Causes of Diarrhea & Vomiting in Pets

Many potential things may be causing your cat or dog's stomach upset, such as:

  • Reaction to medication
  • Ingestion of poisons, toxins or food (garbage, chocolate, anti-freeze)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heatstroke
  • Parasites 
  • Bacterial or viral infections such as Parvovirus in puppies
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Change in diet
  • Bloat
  • Serious disease or illness such as cancer

Depending on the severity of your pet's symptoms, your vet will be able to properly diagnose the issue. 

When to See a Vet

Vomiting can certainly be a serious cause for concern and constitute a veterinary emergency if you see any of the following signs:

  • Continuous vomiting
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Vomiting with nothing coming up
  • Vomiting blood
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting in conjunction with other symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, fever, anemia, etc.
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as food, objects, children’s toy, etc.)

Pet Won't Stop Vomiting or Repeated Diarrhea

You can help your vet identify what's causing the vomiting based on your pet's medical history and recent activities. For example, if you have noticed your pet curiously exploring around the house or sniffing the refrigerator, it's possible he could have ingested something he shouldn't have. 

Because you spend every day with your pet, you'll likely be your vet's best source of information as they attempt to diagnose the issue. Your vet will then test for, diagnose and try to treat the condition. 

Ideally, treatment will be aimed at the underlying problem and may be as simple as temporarily withholding food or as complex as surgery or oncological care.

Occasional or Infrequent Vomiting

Avoid giving your pet food for 12 hours. You can give them up to 3 tablespoons of water every 30 minutes or provide them with ice cubes in the meantime.

After 12 hours, reintroduce the water bowl. Start feeding with a few teaspoons of bland food. If they can keep it down, feed them a little every hour or two.

If the vomiting stops, you can begin feeding them their usual diet the next day.

Severe, Recurring Vomiting

Remove any food that your dog or cat can get into. Inspect your pet for signs of dehydration or shock, including pale skin and gums and abnormal disposition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our North Boulder vets right away if your cat or dog is experiencing vomiting or bouts of diarrhea.

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