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If your dog is losing weight, if you see blood in the vomit or feces, or if your dog has ineffective vomiting (he is retching but unable to product vomit), this is an important medical emergency. Cats and dogs commonly suffer from upset digestive systems causing vomiting or diarrhea, or both. In many cases, the cause of the digestive upset is minor; however, vomiting and diarrhea can be symptoms of a serious illness.
To better understand the causes of a cat or dog’s vomiting or diarrhea, it’s useful to have a general idea of your pet’s digestive system and how it works. The digestive system has the very important job of keeping your pet hydrated by bringing water into the body and supplying your pet with nutrients from food.
The food remains in the stomach for one to two hours, and muscular valves on either end of the stomach keep the food from escaping while it is being digested. A long, muscular tube that loops around within the abdomen is the small intestine, and it is made up of three separate sections.
The large intestine, also known as the colon, is a large, muscular tube that connects the small intestine and the anus.
Vomiting in pets is typically caused by an irritant that affects either the stomach or the duodenum, which is the first section of the small intestine. Viral or Bacterial Infection: Other common causes of vomiting include infections as a result of a virus or, less commonly, bacteria.
Parasites: Another common cause of vomiting, which affects young pets in particular, is parasites. Serious Illness: Vomiting is also a symptom of some serious illnesses, such as cancer, liver disease or kidney disease. Diarrhea in pets usually results from an irritant occurring at the end sections of the small intestine or in the large intestine.
Fat and skin from human scraps are often a cause of diarrhea in dogs, and shouldn’t be fed to pets, according to Dr.
Fat is harder for cats and dogs to digest, which can cause irritation in the colon resulting in diarrhea.
An obstruction in the lower end of the small intestine or in the colon can also cause diarrhea; an obstruction in this area of the digestive tract often causes small amounts of blood to be expelled rather than feces. Fresh, red blood and mucus are often an indication of an injury to the colon, such as from an obstruction.
If your cat or dog’s vomiting or diarrhea lasts for several days, you should bring your pet to the veterinarian to have a thorough examination to determine the exact cause.
Loosely translated, the term gastroenteritis means an upset or inflamed stomach and intestines. Vomiting usually indicates irritation in the stomach and upper small intestine, while diarrhea can mean irritation anywhere along the intestinal tract.


Foreign material such as bones, sticks, leaves, grass, toys or garbage contents may be seen in vomited material when dogs and cats eat indiscriminately.
Diarrhea that is watery or covered with mucus typically means a problem in the colon, which is the organ responsible for absorbing excess moisture from the stool. Intestinal obstruction can be associated with intense pain, vomiting, and straining to defecate but passing only small amounts of runny stool, often with blood. Jeff has more than 30 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a licensed veterinarian as well as a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team. You can make a homemade diet of boiled rice or potatoes (as the carbohydrate source) and lean hamburger, skinless chicken or low-fat cottage cheese (as the protein source), Feed small amounts at a time. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Saliva mixes with the food, and an enzyme in the saliva begins to break down the starches in what your pet has eaten. A process called peristalsis causes the muscles of the esophagus to contract in waves that push the chewed food down the length of the esophagus and into the stomach. Hydrochloric acid is also produced in the stomach, and the acid further breaks down the food for easier digestion. Muscles in the stomach keep the food moving around among the acid and pepsin to further the process, and then the food passes into the small intestine. All the nutrients released from the digestive process are absorbed into the body through the small intestine’s lining, and the leftover waste passes through to the large intestine. Irritation is most often caused by a cat or dog eating something that is not digestible, such as a bone, a stick or synthetic material, such as plastic. Parasites, such as roundworms or hookworms, can cause vomiting as the body tries to expel the worms. Because the digestive process hasn’t been completed, the moisture has not been removed from the feces, which is why it is expelled in a very liquid state.
A puncture of the bowel caused by an obstructed object can cause the toxic contents of the intestines to spill into the abdominal cavity, causing a serious and sometimes fatal condition known as peritonitis. There are many possible causes for these conditions, including viruses and parasites, something very simple like having eaten something bad, or something more complicated like cancer or organ problems (such as kidney failure). As in people, gastroenteritis in pets can be caused by a multitude of underlying problems ranging from minor to serious and life threatening. Medications are sometimes prescribed to calm the gastrointestinal tract and decrease the urge to vomit.
Jeff Werber is an Emmy Award-winning, nationally renowned veterinarian and former president of the Association of Veterinary Communicators. This will prevent the stomach from stretching.  Now, if the vomiting continues despite all of this, or your dog seems to be becoming more depressed or listless, begins to dry-heave frequently, or you note his or her abdomen beginning to expand and tighten up, then it is definitely time to call your veterinarian or a local emergency hospital.


Some dogs will have a large amount of liquid or abnormally loose stools once and others will have semi-formed stools frequently with straining. If your dog is not eating, if he acts lethargic, if the vomiting continues or if any other physical abnormalities mentioned above begin, it is important to see your veterinarian. Bile reduces lumps of fat into smaller pieces, and the digestive enzymes break down the fat even further. A disease of the liver or kidneys causes toxins to build up in the body that causes irritation of the digestive system leading to vomiting. Feed a meatball size portion and if there is no vomiting, offer a small amount more about 1 hour later. You could be traveling, it could be after hours and there are no 24-hour clinics near you, or maybe you simply can't afford it. Your vet will also need to know whether your pet is drinking normal amounts of water, has a normal appetite, and is otherwise acting okay. If the signs resolve, your pet can then be started on small amounts of bland, highly digestible food, such as boiled chicken and rice, or a prescription intestinal diet.
The subsalicylate, an aspirin-like compound, can decrease diarrhea caused by intestinal infections. If your pet is having the clinical signs mentioned above expect your veterinarian to perform some diagnostic tests and to make treatment recommendations dependent upon the severity and the nature of the clinical signs.
The bismuth agent is a chalk-like compound designed to coat the lining of the stomach and intestines. Most vets will not give you any information over the phone – they will tell you to bring your pet in for an office visit. So, when these difficult situations arise, many pet owners don't know what to do – and they end up doing the wrong thing because they don't have sound veterinary advice.
The typical daily dose administered to dogs amounts to approximately 2 teaspoons (10 ml total) per 10-pounds, ideally split between two to four doses.
When your pet has a problem and you can't see your vet, the information in this series of articles can help guide you so that you will not inadvertently cause harm to your dog. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years.



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