What to do if your pet has tummy troubles

At some point in your pet’s life, they will probably experience a gastrointestinal upset. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea. It can be distressing for you and your pet, and it’s sometimes hard to know what you should do. We have simplified the facts, so you know how best to care for your pet. 

What you should do at home:

If your pet has a one-off vomit or one bout of diarrhoea, you should withhold food for a few hours (known as gastric rest), offer water for rehydration and then feed a bland diet for 24 hours. Steamed chicken with no skin or bones and some boiled rice is usually sufficient for 1-2 meals (or we can provide you with a balanced prescription diet). In the majority of cases, your pet will recover without a problem. 

If the vomiting and diarrhoea does not resolve or becomes more severe that’s when you need to call on us.

You should seek advice from us if your pet:

1. Vomits more than once 
2. Has multiple bouts of diarrhoea 
3. Seems lethargic or has a reduced appetite 
4. Might have ingested something they shouldn’t have
5. Has been losing weight recently 
6. Has had intermittent bouts of vomiting and/or diarrhoea for weeks or months

What is a dietary indiscretion?

One of the most common causes of a gastrointestinal upset in pets is a dietary indiscretion, and this is just our way of saying your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have. 

Dogs are notorious with this, as they are typically scavengers. Common culprits for dogs include leftovers, scraps from the rubbish bin or discarded human food at the park. 

Cats can be a bit fussier when it comes to what they will and won’t eat, but they can, of course, get themselves into trouble too, so you should always call us for advice if you are worried about your pet. 

Other causes of vomiting and/or diarrhoea include but are not limited to:

  • Ingestion of a toxin
  • Infection from a virus, a bacteria or a parasite (such as giardia)
  • Conditions such as pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • A gastric obstruction from a foreign body
  • Other systemic diseases, such as liver or kidney disease 
  • Cancer 

If you have a puppy or a kitten that is vomiting or has diarrhoea, we recommend that you always get them checked by us that day, as they can become dehydrated very quickly and can become very unwell in just a few hours. We also need to rule out serious diseases such as parvovirus, which can be fatal in some animals.

Treatment for vomiting and diarrhoea usually involves medications to help reduce nausea and treatment for common bacterias. Intravenous fluid therapy may also be required to rehydrate your pet. In some cases, we must perform blood tests and further imaging, such as radiographs of the abdomen, to rule out the more concerning causes. If required, we can provide your pet with a balanced prescription diet explicitly made for an upset stomach. 

If you are worried about your pet, please call us for advice. We are always here to help!

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