Why is My Pet Vomiting?
Like people, dogs and cats vomit. The episodes are usually brief and not a worrisome symptom. But sometimes vomiting signals a serious problem requiring veterinary care that may be urgent.
When your dog or cat vomits, make sure there are no poisonous substances within their reach. The most common poisonings for both cats and dogs are rodent poisons, household cleaners, and the following over-the-counter or prescription drugs:
- anti-depressant drugs
- Vitamin D
- stimulant medications
Identifying the Cause
Frequent cases of dog poisoning are by:
- sugar-free gum
- grapes and raisins
Cats, on the other hand, are susceptible to:
- dog-flea medication
- some essential oils
And don't discount venomous spiders and snakes if you live in an infested area. Venom generally causes a rapid onset of other symptoms.
If you suspect poisoning, call your veterinarian promptly. Accurate and timely identification of the suspected substance is critical. Having the container or label handy will save valuable time and may save the life of your pet.
Watching for Symptoms
Once you have ruled out poison, keep your pet quiet and observe for additional vomiting and other signs of illness. Watch for the following signs of nausea so you can protect your furniture and carpeting: listlessness, shivering, salivating, swallowing, lip-smacking, and hiding.
One of the primary dangers of repeated vomiting is dehydration. If your pet has tacky mouth and gums, tented skin, and sunken eyeballs, dehydration is likely and your pet needs immediate medical attention.
"If your #pet is sick, be sure to keep them well hydrated, as dehydration is one of the primary dangers of repeated vomiting." TWEET THIS
Repeated episodes of vomiting can be caused by diet changes, bacterial infections, and other easily treatable conditions. They also may signal parasites, organ failure, and other serious diseases.
The following symptoms are a dog or cat owner's cue to call the vet:
- Vomiting that is frequent enough to cause dehydration
- Projectile vomiting
- Severe diarrhea
- Decreased urination
- Belly pain and enlargement
- Dry heaves — repeated but unproductive attempts to vomit
- Blood in the vomit, which may be bright red or look like coffee grounds
- Pink, frothy vomit may be coughed up from the lungs and may be caused by congestive heart failure, lung cancer, or a lung infection
Treating Your Pet at Home
If your pet's vomiting episode is brief, and the pet behaves normally, the following home treatment is often prescribed:
- Do not give your pet food or water for six to eight hours
- After six to eight hours, give your pet a small amount of water, gradually increasing the amount if it does not vomit
- After 12 hours, give your pet a small portion of boiled chicken with skin and bones removed. Mix the chicken with cooked rice;
- Increase the chicken and rice portions over two days and then mix it with your pet's regular food
- Decrease the chicken and rice and increase regular food over a period of two or three days
This diet is important because dry dog and cat food is difficult to digest when your pet is not healthy.
Veterinary Care for Vomiting Pets
Because vomiting causes are many and varied, your vet will do a thorough physical exam and ask many questions to help to narrow down the possible causes. Sometimes an exam and history provide enough information to make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
In other cases, your pet may need blood tests, X-rays, and/or an ultrasound. Your vet will treat the symptoms and determine the underlying cause. Drugs may be prescribed, and in some cases, surgery will be recommended. Your pet may need to be hospitalized at the clinic for observation and treatment.
Please contact us with any concerns you have about your pet's health. We are here to help your pet have a long, happy life and to give you the assurance that you are providing the best possible care for your furry companions.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.