When a Dodgy Tummy Isn't Just a Dodgy Tummy
It’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to have an occasional vomit or a little bit of diarrhoea.
It’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to have an occasional vomit or a little bit of diarrhoea. But sometimes this is the first sign of more serious disease. How do you know when it’s time to take your pet to the vets? Let’s find out!
What could be the problem?
There are many causes of vomiting and diarrhoea in our pets. From relatively mild and self-limited illness such as eating some food they aren’t used to or car sickness, through to severe infections, foreign body obstructions, inflammation of the pancreas, organ failure, or cancer. How can you tell if your pet is more likely to have a mild and short illness, or if something more serious is going on?
Have they eaten anything toxic?
In addition to obvious toxins such as rat bait, there are a number of unexpected things that can cause our pets to become very sick. Has your dog eaten chocolate? Or has your cat had a chew at the lilies sitting on your counter? Or have those raisins in your pantry mysteriously disappeared? All of these can be highly toxic to your pet, and need to be seen straight away. Irreversible damage to your pet’s organs can occur within hours of ingestion.
Are they vomiting a lot? Or is there a lot of diarrhoea?
If your pet has had only one or two small vomits or bouts of diarrhoea in one day, then it might be ok to keep an eye on them at home. Consider changing them to a diet such as Royal Canin Sensitivity until their stomach settles – you can talk to our friendly nurses for more advice. Any more than this, and you should see a vet – the fluid loss can rapidly lead to severe dehydration, and your pet is likely to need supportive care. There may also be something more serious going on than an upset tummy.
Have they had more than 3 days of vomiting or diarrhoea?
Less than 3 days of mild vomiting or diarrhoea in a patient that is otherwise bright and happy is often just a bit of a dodgy tummy. However, this should not last for longer than 3 days. Longer than that, and it’s time for a vet check!
Are they painful?
If your pet is hunched or reluctant to move, or growls, hisses or tries to bite when you try to touch them, these are all signs that your pet is very sore. A bit of an upset tummy should not cause this level of pain. Make an appointment with your vet!
Are they off colour or lethargic?
Regardless of how long the vomiting or diarrhoea has been going for, and regardless of the severity, if your pet is no longer their bright and happy normal selves, go to the vet. This could be a sign that your pet is becoming very sick, and the earlier they’re seen, the more likely we’ll be able to get them back to health quickly.
Is there any blood?
If you notice any blood in your pet’s vomit or diarrhoea, get to a vet ASAP. Blood may be red coloured, or in faeces it may also be tar black, as if the blood is coming from the stomach it will be partly digested.
Are they losing weight?
Your pet may have only intermittent diarrhoea or vomiting, but may be slowly (or quickly!) losing weight. If this is happening, this is not normal! Come down and see us so we can work out what’s going wrong.
Are they a rabbit, or other small or exotic pet?
In animals such as rabbits (as opposed to dogs and cats), diarrhoea is very unusual and is a sign of very serious disease. Because wild rabbits that show that they are sick are more likely to be hunted and killed, they are also far better at hiding their illness. Often a rabbit that appears to be just a little off colour is actually very, very sick. If your rabbit or other small pet is off colour, bring them in to see us straight away!