Vomiting… The Mild, The Bad, and The Ugly
Imagine this – you wake up in the morning and get out of bed… you step in a cold pile of… oh yuck! Vomit! While you have been sleeping, your pet has been getting sick, all over your nice new carpet. Unfortunately, this is the case for many of our clients and their beloved pet(s). You may ask… Is vomiting dangerous? Is it okay to wait to see the vet?…Do I need to rush him in?…
If your pet is vomiting more than once a day, losing weight, has a change in appetite, seems lethargic, has diarrhea and vomiting together, or has blood in the vomit, it is time to go see your vet.
Vomiting can happen for many reasons! Some are very dangerous for your dog or cat, while some will resolve quickly with mild treatment.
Some causes of vomiting include:
Viral or bacterial infection
Obstruction from a foreign body
Bloat or gastrodilation with or without volvulus
Pyometra (uterine infection)
If your young puppy is sick and vomiting, get to your vet right away. Vomiting in a very young animal, especially one not fully vaccinated yet, can be extremely dangerous, and could be due to some very dangerous viruses like parvovirus or distemper virus. These viral diseases can be life threatening for your new baby puppy.
Sometimes your pet may eat something that they normally don’t eat, or something they shouldn’t eat. They might get into the trash, they might swallow one of their toys, or they may be eating a new brand or flavor of dog or cat food. Changes like this can cause vomiting. If they eat something that is too big to pass through their intestinal tract, they may become obstructed. This can require surgery and is an emergency. Your vet will want to take x-rays to check for things that might be lodged in your pet’s stomach or intestines. If x-rays are clear, they can prescribe medications to help with nausea and give you a bland food for your pet to eat to help him/her get on the fast track to feeling better.
Some pets get intestinal parasites (worms). This can cause a very upset, and sometimes bloated, belly. Your vet can test for worms and get appropriate medication for them to kill the parasites and to make your pet feel better.
Sometimes your pet might vomit due to other metabolic reasons. They can have something going on internally like kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, Addison’s disease, etc that will require treatment. Your vet can run labwork to check for disease processes like these and help your pet get better right away. They may need to keep him/her in the hospital if they are very sick or dehydrated.
A serious cause of vomiting, especially seen in large dogs, can be bloat or gastrodilation and volvulus. This is a very serious emergency and requires immediate treatment. Your vet will do x-rays to diagnose this problem, and may need to do surgery to correct it.
Unspayed females are in danger of getting a uterine infection. A pyometra is life threatening and your vet will perform an x-ray to diagnose, and if found, likely emergency surgery.
Dogs can get heat stroke. They become overheated, either from being outside in the heat during summertime, staying in a hot parked car, etc… They may need immediate treatment for this!
Some pets may seem like they are vomiting, but are actually regurgitating. This can happen for a few reasons. Sometimes they simply eat too fast. You’ll see them eat, then food comes right back up without any “heaving” action. Sometimes this happens due to a problem with their esophagus called megaesophagus. This may require some treatment and changes in eating routine that your vet can help you with, but the regurgitating itself is not something to immediately worry about.
If your pet is sick, please don’t hesitate to call us! We can get you the help you need right away for your pet.
Written by: Christina Munn, DVM