Cause of pet vomiting could be serious

HANDOUT Dr. Emily Coatney-Smith – Dayton, Ohio

When we see our pets vomit, we get a sinking feeling. As we are cleaning up the mess, we are deciding if the episode warrants a trip to the vet.

There are some cats and dogs that occasionally vomit and don’t appear to be affected by it. There are the cats that vomit up hairballs or undigested food that they ate too quickly. Those cats can be given a hairball gel or fed small meals.

But for some cats, vomiting can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Cats are very good at hiding illness, and if vomiting is associated with other signs, it is important to get it addressed.

If there also is diarrhea, poor appetite, lethargy or weight loss, it could indicate a liver, kidney, pancreas issue or diabetes, especially in older animals.

Younger cats, meanwhile, love to eat things like string, needles, thread, fishing line, yarn and tinsel. The longer the string, the more likely it is to get caught up in the intestinal tract and require surgery. These cats are generally very sick and vomit a lot and become very uncomfortable. Delaying treatment can allow the string to bunch up the intestinal tract like an accordion and damage it.

Then there are the dogs that vomit up yellow bile in the morning or after eating grass. Sometimes feeding them a late night snack will keep enough in their stomach overnight to give the bile something to work on. Grass is more complicated as sometimes they just like the taste of grass, but sometimes they eat it to try to settle their stomachs, which can indicate a bigger problem.

Dogs are worse than cats for eating things that they shouldn’t. They eat toys, clothing, things out of the garbage, and other animals’ feces. At the very least, these things can cause an upset stomach but they also can obstruct the intestinal tract and cause irreversible damage. When something is stuck, dogs will vomit very frequently, not eat, and act painful.


Very serious issue

One issue that is unique to dogs is Gastrodilatation and Volvulus, or GDV for short. It is a gastrointestinal issue that can occur in any dog but is mostly seen in deep-chested large breed dogs.

When it occurs, the stomach gets bloated then twists and rotates in the abdomen. This is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate attention and surgery.

Dogs with this condition do not vomit and cannot vomit because the twist blocks things from coming out of the stomach. They retch without bringing anything up and they often develop a noticeable, firm bloated abdomen.

So don’t think that because nothing is being vomited up that everything will work itself out.

Vomiting can be just a thing a pet will do occasionally, but it also can be an indication of an underlying medical condition. You can never be too safe by having your pets seen by a veterinarian for vomiting.

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