Information on stomach pains related to colic in cats and dogs.
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What is Colic in Cats and Dogs?
Colic refers to abdominal pain or discomfort caused by too much gas in the abdomen. Dogs and cats can suffer from this condition, just like humans. Pets of all ages and breeds can be affected, but young animals are especially prone.
Colic can cause extreme abdominal discomfort. There may be underlying causes, some of which can be serious or even life-threatening to your pet. It’s important to contact your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
What Causes Colic in Pets?
Colic can have many causes, either acute or chronic. Acute causes include feeding a pet incorrect food, or from the animal accidentally getting into spoiled food, garbage, toxic substances or household cleaners.
Chronic may occur from bacterial infection, viral infection, parasitic infections such as worms, kidney disease, liver failure, gallbladder deficiency, bowel problems, stomach ulcers, tumors, pancreatitis or a digestive injury.
Warning signs of digestive tract pain are abdominal discomfort, abdominal distension, loss of appetite, overall weakness and restlessness.
Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain that leads to crying or whining
- Bloated stomach
- Hard belly
- Arched back with feet tucked in
- Weakness or sluggishness
- Loss of appetite
- Restlessness and thrashing around on the floor
In cases of extreme distress or an underlying condition, your pet may collapse from the pain. Contact your vet immediately. A thorough examination, complete blood count, biochemical profile and urinalysis will likely be performed. Other tests may include X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, endoscopy and parvo testing on puppies.
Treatment for Colic
Treatment depends on the symptoms and cause. Most treatment plans involve withholding food for at least 24 hours to allow the stomach to rest. This is followed by a bland diet. Some pets may require fluid and electrolyte therapy, antacids, antiemetics and gastric protectants.
Natural remedies and lifestyle changes may help relieve symptoms and prevent new attacks:
- Diet - Feed high quality commercial food or a well-balanced all-natural diet without additives, preservatives or artificial coloring. Make any feeding changes slowly over 3-5 days so your pet’s digestive system can adjust.
- Hydrate – Make sure there is always fresh, clean water available.
- Protect – Avoid allowing your pet access to spoiled food, garbage cans, household cleaners or chemicals.
- De-worm – De-worm your pet regularly, since parasites such as roundworms can contribute to digestive distress.
- Exercise – Avoid active movements immediately after feeding your pet.
- Weight – Maintain your pet’s healthy weight
- Supplements – Digestive Support™ for Cat & Dog Digestion is a natural supplement for digestive tract health and symptoms of gastritis in cats and dogs. Immunity & Liver Support™ Oral Spray supports healthy liver function, detox and immune system function in pets.
Reviewed by Master Herbalist, Mary Ellen Kosanke
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- “Roundworms in Cats.” PetMD. Accessed November 19, 2019. https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_ct_ascariasis
- “Bloat in Dogs.” Blue Cross for Pets. Accessed November 19, 2019. https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/bloat-dogs
- Nicholas, Jason. “Bloat in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment.” Preventive Vet. Accessed November 19, 2019. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/help-my-dogs-stomach-is-bloated-understanding-canine-bloat-torsion-and-gdv
- “Signs and Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs.” PetMD. Accessed November 19, 2019. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/signs-and-symptoms-bloat-dogs
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- “Dog Colic.” Natural Dog Health Remedies. November 19, 2019. https://www.natural-dog-health-remedies.com/dog-colic.html