Regurgitation vs. Vomiting in Pets
Regurgitation is defined as the passive reflux of food and/or liquids secondary to some sort of inflammation or abnormality of the esophagus. Vomiting, on the other hand, is defined as the active eructation of food and/or liquid secondary to inflammation of the stomach or intestines. In veterinary medicine, it is important to differentiate regurgitation from vomiting, as they are both treated differently, and have different underlying causes.
Most commonly, regurgitation consists of undigested food and/or liquids. Causes of regurgitation include various disorders of the esophagus, including esophagitis, foreign body ingestion, as well as a condition known as megaesophagus. Differential diagnoses of regurgitation are distinguished by history, physical exam and possibly x-rays and contrast studies. Treatment usually consists of feeding a bland, easily digested diet, as well as often antacids (i.e. Pepcid AC, Sucralfate) as well as medications to promote the forward movement of food (i.e. Metoclopramide) down the esophagus. Prognosis will vary depending upon the diagnosis.
A workup for chronic vomiting also includes the above testing, but may also include further imaging such as ultrasound or endoscopy, as well as more involved blood work. Treatment will also be based on determination of an underlying cause, as well as symptomatic medications such as the ones mentioned above, as well as newer drugs such as prescription Cerenia.