If your pet has an episode of vomiting or diarrhoea, it can be hard to know what to do! On the one hand, these symptoms are very common (usually showing up when you’re already late and about to head out the door!), and in many cases your four-legged friend will be back to their normal self in no time. But sometimes, the cause of the upset is more serious, and getting help from your vet at the right time can make all the difference. Read on for our lowdown on digestive dilemmas, what you can do to keep your pet comfortable at home, and when you should call in the cavalry!
There are a vast number of causes of vomiting and diarrhoea in pets, ranging from minor issues that will get better on there own, to much more serious problems requiring treatment from your vet; we’ve included some of the more common causes below.
Food-related issues are among the most common causes of gut problems in our four-legged pals. Dogs are scavengers by nature, and no matter how well-fed your pooch is, the instinct to stick their nose in a bin and wolf down what they find is hard for them to resist! This puts them at risk of devouring something that really doesn’t agree with them, and an upset tummy is often a foregone conclusion. Hard-wired to hunt, our moggies can suffer a similar fate from eating the small creatures they’re preying upon! Sudden changes to our pets’ diets can also lead to gut upsets, and some pets can even be allergic to certain foods.
And of course, food is not the only thing we have to worry about our pets swallowing! Stones and corks, golf balls and chew toys, tinsel and balled-up socks – you name it and there’s probably a pet somewhere that has tried to eat it! If the offending item causes a blockage in the intestines, it can potentially be life-threatening, so if you suspect your four-legged friend may have gulped down something they shouldn’t have, have a chat with your vet sooner rather than later!
Your pet’s guts can become irritated by infectious causes, too. Certain bacteria and viruses, for example, can replicate in the guts and result in sickness and/or diarrhoea, and pesky parasites are another potential cause. Worms like roundworms and tapeworms can affect both dogs and cats; these wriggling creatures live inside an infected pet’s intestines, where they can cause a range of potential issues. Worm infestations are a common cause of vomiting and diarrhoea in puppies and kittens, who can be infested with high numbers of roundworms, as this parasite can be passed on to them directly from their mums when they’re suckling her milk.
Sometimes the root of the problem is not actually with the intestines themselves, at all! Many other diseases (for example kidney and liver disease, hormonal issues and pancreatitis, to name a few) can indirectly cause vomiting and diarrhoea, along with other symptoms.
It’s safe to say that entire books are written on this topic, and it’s not always easy to know the cause from a one-off episode, so seeking your vet’s advice when you’re concerned is always your best bet!
If your pet is otherwise well, and the incident was a one-off, there are some steps you can take to help care for them at home:
If you’re at all worried about your pet, though, then always err on the side of caution and speak to your vet.
There are some specific signs to watch out for that might indicate more of a cause for concern; if your four-legged friend is showing any of these, then we’d advise you speak to your vet for advice:
When all is said and done though, you’re the one who knows your furry family member best! So even in the absence of the warning signs above, if you’re worried something isn’t right, or simply want some reassurance, your vet will always be happy to check your pet over, even if it’s just to give you some peace of mind.
If you do need to take your fur baby to the vet, they will give them a thorough check-over, and ask you questions about their general health. Depending on their findings, they might send you home with some treatment, or they might recommend some further tests. Bloods tests, x-rays and scans can all help pinpoint what the issue might be, and your vet may ask you for a stool sample from your pet to help with the diagnosis. If your furry friend is dehydrated or generally unwell, your vet might recommend keeping them in so that they can give them some intensive TLC and keep a close eye on them.
Vomiting and diarrhoea are extremely common digestive dilemmas, and most pets will have the odd episode at some point! There are, however, some basic principles you can follow that can help prevent some of the more common causes:
Keeping up with preventative healthcare, feeding a good diet and trying to avoid scavenging are all great ways to help lower the risk of tummy upsets; but even with your best efforts, they can’t be avoided altogether. If you’re at all concerned about your pet or just want some reassurance that you’re doing the right thing by caring for them at home, your best bet is always to pick up the phone to your vet, who will offer you advice and do all they can to help you get your four-legged friend back on the road to recovery!