Dogs are most often sick because they eat something which upsets their stomach. This could be a rotten dead animal or discarded piece of food which they find when out walking.
If something is really rotten and covered in bacteria, just a small mouthful will be enough to make the dog ill. Cats tend to be more selective in what they eat although there are exceptions to this!
There are other reasons for sickness. Viruses like parvo virus can cause very severe sickness and diarrhoea which is often life threatening.
Sometimes pets swallow strange things like stones or pieces of string which can cause a blockage and make them sick. Other times vomiting can be due to an illness like liver or kidney disease.
A couple of episodes of vomiting in an otherwise fit pet is unlikely to cause any problem. However ongoing vomiting can lead to dehydration and weight loss. Vomiting also upsets the delicate fluid and salt balance of the body making your pet feel ill.
If your pet vomits we advise that you allow the stomach to rest and don’t offer any food for at least 8 hours. It is best to leave down a small bowl of water only. Once the sickness has stopped it is best to feed small meals of very bland food like chicken or white fish with rice for a couple of days.
If the vomiting goes on for more than 24 hours, if your pet vomits blood or if your pet is distressed or very lethargic then we suggest you phone and arrange to see a vet without delay. It is normal for a pet who has vomited to be a bit depressed and lethargic.
If your pet vomits regularly, we suggest you make an appointment with one of the vets.
Occasionally in severe or persistent cases of vomiting we have to hospitalise pets for intravenous fluids and may need to take X-rays and do blood tests to find out the cause.
Diarrhoea in pets is most often caused by eating something unsuitable or a change of diet. Other causes include infections, stress, and bowel abnormalities. Chronic or ongoing diarrhoea is a complex problem which may have many underlying causes.
If your pet has diarrhoea
If your pet has diarrhoea but is not vomiting and otherwise seems well, it is best to offer small meals of something very bland like white fish or chicken with rice. You should offer lots of water to drink unless your pet is being sick. It is best not to walk your dog – allow him to rest.
We advise an appointment with the vet if your pet is obviously lethargic or in pain or if there is blood in the diarrhoea. We also suggest you come to see a vet if your pet keeps getting diarrhoea.
In the first instance we are unlikely to prescribe antibiotics, but may look to using diet and probiotics (good bacteria) to treat the problem. We may need to do blood tests and X-rays in cases of chronic diarrhoea to find the cause of the problem.