Vomiting dog or cat: acute or chronic condition?
One of the more common digestive complaints we are presented with in veterinary medicine is vomiting. When presented with this complaint in the medical history, veterinarians usually first classify the problem as either acute vomiting of short term duration, or chronic, longer term vomiting.
There are many causes of acute vomiting ranging from simple viral or bacterial digestive upset, intestinal parasites, and even heartworms, dietary allergies and/or indiscretion or ingestion of foreign or toxic material, metabolic problems such as inflammation of the liver, kidneys or pancreas, an under active adrenal gland (known as Addison’s disease) and even cancer of the bowels. Although these latter categories we’re usually thinking more in terms of possible causes of chronic vomiting in dogs or cats.
With cats, hairballs can contribute to vomiting, but many pet guardians and even veterinarians often over diagnose hairballs as causes of particularly chronic vomiting in cats. Products such as Laxatone and Petromalt hairball remedy can often help with lessening hairball formation; however, I don’t like to overuse these products as they also have a lot of sugar and carbohydrates in them which stress a cat’s pancreas and liver.
Depending upon the severity of your pet’s acute vomiting problem would determine whether or not you would want to try and manage the issue at home, or consider a veterinary exam and diagnostics. If in doubt, it is always best to have a veterinary exam if needed. In my opinion the most important part of treatment of chronic vomiting in dogs or cats is to withhold solid food for 24 to 36 hours (unless a pet is suffering from a hormonal disorder such as diabetes or a tumor known as an insulinoma of the pancreas, or it’s a toy breed puppy under the age of 6 months, as these puppies are prone to low blood sugars).
While many clients will start a bland diet right away in vomiting pets, it is best to rest the digestive tract for this brief period of time to allow acute inflammation to subside. Small amounts of water/ice cubes and/or vegetable or chicken broth can be offered during the fast. A wonderful over the counter supplement that I have found helpful in digestive tract disorders of all kinds is using the herb slippery elm, which is available from most health food stores, and can be given during the brief fast, and is very soothing for an irritated digestive tract. Over the counter Pepcid AC at a dose of one half mg per pound once or twice daily is often safe to use in most situations and pets.
Two excellent products to consider are Fast Balance, which restores digestive tract flora quite quickly in most pets, as well as NaturVet Enzymes and Probiotics. The Fast Balance, slippery elm, and Pepcid AC can be used during the acute fasting phase of vomiting. If this settles the stomach down, a bland diet consisting of chicken or turkey and rice or even baby food in smaller pets (without onion powder in it) can then be introduced after the brief fast along with the NaturVet Enzymes and Probiotics, while the Fast Balance, slippery elm and Pepcid AC can be continued for the following few days.
Obviously, if symptoms worsen and intensify and/or your pet appears to be getting weaker, then an immediate veterinary exam is needed, especially important in ruling out acute obstructions of the digestive tract as well as in dogs making sure acute organ failure or an acute presentation of Addison’s disease is not present. Sometimes IV or subcutaneous fluids are needed to be administered by the veterinarian to prevent or treat dehydration, as well as even prescription medications like Metoclopramide or Cerenia are often needed to help stop the vomiting in severe acute cases. .
With chronic vomiting in our dogs or cats a full veterinary workup is certainly recommended including physical exam, blood work, urine analysis, fecal checks for parasites, as well as x-rays and possibly an ultrasound or scoping of the digestive tract to get to underlying causes and best treatment plans for such cases, depending upon the individual details and history. Low allergy novel protein diets can be tried for 4-8 weeks for pets with chronic vomiting that have been worked up to rule out dietary sensitivity or allergy as a cause of chronic vomiting. However, it is important to have a full medical evaluation at the veterinarian first to rule out some of the chronic disorders mentioned above.