Few of us have escaped the pleasure of experiencing a pet with an upset belly. Since there are a slew of potential causes for pet tummy trouble, though, you may wonder how to know when to give things a little time and when pet tummy trouble is an emergency?
Wait and See or See the Vet?
If you notice symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, drooling, loud digestion, or flatulence, there is clearly something going on with the digestive tract. But what that is, is not always so obvious.
There are a variety of different causes behind pet tummy trouble. If you flipped through a veterinary textbook, you might be surprised to learn that the list of possible diagnoses for these symptoms is quite long. Some culprits are more frequent than others, but there are many potential causes of pet tummy trouble.
Some of the more frequent reasons that we see a pet for digestive issues include:
- Dietary indiscretion (eating something that upsets digestion)
- Intestinal parasites
- Viral diseases, such as parvovirus
- Systemic conditions outside the digestive tract
- Foreign or toxic object ingestion
- Food sensitivities
This is, by no mean, an exhaustive list – there are many other possible culprits, as well.
Certain causes behind digestive issues in pets may clear up on their own or with symptomatic treatment. Others require aggressive care, or they may result in serious dehydration, malnutrition, sepsis, and even death. So how is a pet owner to know when to ride it out and when care is urgently needed?
There are some telltale signs to look for when you have a pet with an upset belly that tell you things need veterinary attention. Call us or your regular vet if:
- Your pet vomits more than twice in a 24 hour period
- Your pet has diarrhea more than twice in a 24 hour period
- Your dog or cat has not eaten in over 24 hours
- Your pet tries to eat or drink, but vomits immediately afterwards
- You notice more than a spot of blood in the stool/vomitus
- Your dog repeatedly tries to vomit unproductively (this is a sign of bloat and is an urgent matter)
- Your pet is acting as if they do not feel well or seems agitated
- Your dog or cat has knowingly eating something toxic or dangerous
- Your pet’s digestive upset is persistent beyond 48 hours, even if mild
- Your pet seems to be worsening overall
- Your pet is very small, geriatric, or very young
Pet Tummy Trouble Tips
Pet tummy trouble stinks for us as pet owners (usually quite literally), but it is often even worse for our furry patients. If your pet is having digestive issues, there are certainly some things that you can do to help.
At the first sign of a problem, be sure to:
- Stop feeding any treats or table food
- Consider taking away your pet’s normal food for several hours, especially if there is vomiting or diarrhea
- Allow your pet access to fresh water unless he or she is vomiting after drinking
- When you do offer food or water again, offer only a small amount to see how things go
- Offer bland, easy to digest foods that are low fat and low in fiber such as lean, boiled chicken and white rice in small amounts
- Avoid the temptation to administer any human medications or previously prescribed medications unless under the direct supervision of a veterinarian
- Supervise your pet outdoors so that you can accurately report symptoms
- Collect a sample of feces for testing, washing your hands well after collection
When in doubt it is never wrong to have your pet examined. Even if no further diagnostics or hospitalization is required, we can often administer medications that will help your pet get back on their feet more quickly than if no treatment was administered. If things do turn out to be more serious, early attention is often instrumental in treatment success.
Most pet lovers will have to navigate a bout of tummy issues in their animal-owning careers, but hopefully you now have a little more knowledge about how to judge when things are serious. Don’t forget, either, that we are always here to help no matter the day or time, and are happy to help you with your concerns.