Vomiting Dog & Cat info

Why do cats and dogs vomit or throw up?​

There are many reasons why animals vomit.  As veterinarians, we tend to think about the causes of vomiting in two big categories: gastrointestinal causes (related to the intestines) and non-gastrointestinal causes (outside of the intestines).  Some examples of gastrointestinal causes of vomiting are viral inflammation (parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus), pancreatitis, bacterial enteritis (E. coli, Salmonella, Clostridium), parasitic infestation (hookworms, Giardia, coccidia, tapeworms), mechanical obstruction (foreign bodies), cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease.  Some examples of non- gastrointestinal causes of vomiting are adrenal disease, toxicities, liver or kidney disease, diabetes and cancers.

What should you do if your pet is vomiting?

First and foremost, your veterinarian needs to examine your pet. Based on the interpretation of the physical exam and the patient’s medical history, the veterinarian may need to run some diagnostic tests to help differentiate between the many causes of vomiting. If we suspect parasites, a fecal exam might be necessary. Sometimes, if you suspect that your dog ate a corn cob, swallowed a toy, ate bones, or some other foreign material, then X-rays or an ultrasound (sonogram) might be needed. If your dog has experienced severe vomiting, then blood work or other tests might be necessary to determine if your pet is dehydrated or has an electrolyte imbalance. Blood work also helps veterinarians look for pancreatitis, kidney failure, liver failure, diabetes and other diseases that can cause vomiting.

How do you treat vomiting cats and dogs?

Treatment for a vomiting pet depends on the underlying cause of the vomiting.  A puppy with parasites may just need deworming. A dog with a bone or toy stuck in its intestines or stomach may need that object to be surgically removed. If kidney failure is causing the vomiting, then your veterinarian might need to treat the kidneys and protect the gastro-intestinal tract.  Once we have a diagnosis, your vet will recommend a treatment plan suited for your pet.

What do I do if my dog is having trouble keeping anything down?

  1. Take your four legged child to your veterinarian!
  2. Inform the vet of your pet’s recent history- any new medications, any known toxin ingestion, any missing socks…
  3. Discuss the results of the diagnostic tests with the doctor.
  4. Follow the advice of the veterinarian regarding the treatment plan for your pet.

Common things we hear from our clients:

“My cat vomits occasionally doctor, but she seems ok”.

“My dog just started this morning and he won’t stop throwing up doctor!”

These are very common stories heard within the walls of a veterinary hospital.  The seriousness of a vomiting animal can be tricky for owners to judge.  Sometimes animals vomit only intermittently and or on occasion. It’s hard to know when you should seek medical help.  Sometimes the persistence of vomiting clearly requires veterinary attention.  When in doubt of the seriousness of a pet’s medical condition, a consultation with your veterinarian is always recommended.

The information provided does not constitute veterinary advice. Please contact your veterinarian to discuss any possible questions you have regarding your pet’s health.

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