Gastrointestinal Issues in Pets

Both dogs and cats can go through some gastrointestinal issues. The hard part is finding what caused it. The first thing to ask yourself and your family is if anything has changed in the pet’s environment? Moving, going out of town, boarding, new cleaners, new carpet or furniture, or a change in food can all cause GI upset. You should also look around the house and outdoors to see if there is anything that may have been ingested that could be toxic, irritating to the intestines, or that could get lodged in their GI tract. Things to look for would be: medications, garbage, plants, bones and rawhides, toys (kids and pets), fabrics, and strings.

There are endless things that pets can get into. Just like children, it is a good idea to baby proof the house before bringing a pet home or before leaving a pet unattended. Stress (especially in cats), external changes, and foreign objects could all be causes of vomiting or diarrhea. Fortunately, the more your veterinarian knows about what your pet could have ingested the less you will have to spend on diagnostics to figure out the cause of the vomiting and diarrhea.

If you don’t think an object or toxic item is to blame, and nothing has changed, then it could be a food that they have eaten. Think of what human food they have had in the past few days and what you’ve eaten. Maybe they got into the trash and ate something you wish they wouldn’t have! Pancreatitis is a common cause of vomiting and diarrhea. If your pet is acting abnormal (vomiting, diarrhea, lethargic, fever, painful abdomen) your veterinarian may want to screen them for this issue.

Parvovirus is also a very common cause of vomiting and diarrhea. Parvovirus usually only effects unvaccinated puppies, but can be found in older dogs as well- especially if they weren’t vaccinated. If your puppy is vomiting and has very watery stools you should consult your veterinarian to make sure it’s vaccinations are up to date.

In addition to taking your pet’s history and doing a physical exam your veterinarian will likely propose several diagnostic tests. Bloodwork and radiographs are always a good place to start. Bloodwork can help see if there is an infection or determine severity of their condition. Abnormal values can usually steer your vet in the right direction to the cause and selecting the best treatment! Radiographs help see what we can’t feel or visualize and are often the only way to identify a foreign object or obstruction of their GI tract.

When it comes down to it, if your pet has vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 to 48 hours, you need to have them seen by a veterinarian. Given their fragile nature, GI upset in puppies and kittens should be addressed even sooner. In either case, waiting too long can turn an easily treatable issue into a life threatening one; requiring more expensive diagnostics and care. In fact, most clients like to bring them in soon to help stop a mess in the household and enjoy it that we can care for them instead of having further accidents in the house. For more informtation, call us: 515-421-4VET!