What is Vomiting?
Vomiting is characterized by the contents of the stomach being ejected. This may happen to our pets from time to time – as a result of common factors or as a result of more serious health problems. Cats tend to vomit far more than dogs.
Symptoms of vomiting in cats and dogs include:
- Partially digested food coming up, along with a yellow fluid (bile)
- Blood in the vomit (consult your vet as this can signal an ulcer or cancer)
When should I be worried about my pet vomiting?
You should consult your veterinarian if:
- You suspect your pet has been exposed to toxins, garbage, a bone, plants, antifreeze, or drugs.
- There is blood in the vomit (fresh blood or granules that look like coffee)
- Your pet experiences diarrhea with vomiting
- Your pet vomits each time they eat
- There is repeated vomiting and retching within a short time (3-4 times in a row).
- Your dog looks weak, depressed or lethargic.
- There is refusal to eat at the next meal after a vomiting episode
- You have a cat that is vomiting consecutively – as dehydration is a serious side effect
- Your pet has a fever, stomachache, jaundice, anemia, or masses in the stomach.
What Causes Vomiting?
The most common cause of acute vomiting is a dietary one – your pet may eat something that does not agree with them, they may run too fast after a meal or they may not be used to certain foods. Dogs may feel slightly nauseous from too hot weather, or they may have ingested hair.
Cats may also vomit as a result of hairballs in the stomach or throat. With older pets the muscle of the esophagus loses tone – this means food will not travel down the esophagus to the stomach as it should, resulting in regurgitation.
Some of the possible causes for chronic vomiting are:
- Tumor of the pancreas
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Uterine infection (more common as an animal reaches middle age)
- Ketoacidosis (a form of diabetes)
- Addison’s disease
- Diseases of the inner ear
- Ingestion of foreign object
- Gastritis from ingestion of bad food or hair
- Bladder obstruction or rupture
- Infectious diseases (canine distemper, canine parvovirus, and feline panleukopenia virus)
- Elevated thyroid function (in cats)
- Heartworm disease (in cats)
Diagnosing the Cause of Vomiting
Determining a cause for your pet’s vomiting or regurgitation may take some time. You will most likely need to cooperate with your veterinarian in trying to pinpoint the cause. Your veterinarian will need to determine whether the cause is gastric or non-gastric (based in the stomach, or not).
Pay close attention to the pattern of your pet’s vomiting so you can give a thorough description of the symptoms. If coughing is the cause, your vet will look into your pet’s mouth to see if a foreign object has become caught in the esophageal opening. An x-ray may also be used to determine if there is an object deeper in the esophagus, or in the stomach.
Help for Vomiting
Initially, with any vomiting or diarrhea, a 12-24 hours fast (yet still giving the pet fluids) is recommended to allow the system to clean out. This is usually followed by a bland diet of boiled chicken or meat and rice or potato in small amounts, slowly returning to its normal meals.
Once the cause of the vomiting is determined, your veterinarian will be able to come up with a course of treatment. Anti-emetics, Antibiotics and Corticosteroids may be prescribed. These drugs may relieve your pet’s symptoms; they do come with side effects. Some of these drugs can cause your pet to have more problems with his or her digestion, while immunosuppressant drugs can lower his or her resistance to illness.
All cats and dogs will naturally eat herbs and grasses that make them vomit (helping to clean out their systems by getting rid of excess bile, mucus and other impurities). This is a natural process as natural herbal and homeopathic remedies can help to restore digestive comfort, prevent nausea and help prevent vomiting.
Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) is an excellent tonic for the entire digestive tract, helping to soothe the lining of the digestive tract. Ulmus fulva (slippery elm), Althaea officinalis (marshmallow) and Mentha piperita (Mint) have been used for centuries as digestive aids. Kalium phosphate, Aconite, Cocculus and Pulsatilla vulgaris are biochemic tissue salts well known for their ability to maintain comfort in the stomach during traveling.