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Vomiting & Diarrhea in Pets That Won't Stop: Causes & What to Do

Vomiting and diarrhea are two common signs of gastrointestinal upset in cats and dogs. These conditions can have numerous causes. Today, our Lexington vets share what you should know, and what to do if your pet is experiencing these symptoms.

Why is my cat or dog vomiting or having diarrhea?

An inflamed, irritated stomach or intestines, or gastrointestinal upset, can lead to vomiting and diarrhea for cats and dogs. 

As unpleasant as it is to deal with, vomiting is one of the most efficient ways for your pet to rid their stomach of indigestible material, so it doesn't make its way further into their system. 

Diarrhea often occurs when said indigestible material has gone all the way through your dog's digestive system, anywhere along the intestinal tract.

What is causing my pet's vomiting and diarrhea?

Many potential things may be causing your cat or dog's stomach upset, such as:

  • Reaction to medication
  • Ingestion of poisons, toxins or food (garbage, chocolate, anti-freeze)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heat stroke
  • Parasites 
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Change in diet
  • Bloat
  • Serious disease or illness such as cancer

Depending on the severity of your pet's symptoms, your vet will be able to properly diagnose the issue. 

When is vomiting in pets cause for concern?

Vomiting may be cause for some concern and constitute a serious veterinary emergency if you see any of these signs:

  • Continuous vomiting
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Vomiting with nothing coming up
  • Vomiting blood
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting in conjunction with other symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, fever, anemia, etc.
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Suspected ingestion of a foreign body (such as food, objects, children’s toy, etc.)

What should I do if my pet won't stop vomiting or having diarrhea?

You can help your vet identify what's causing the vomiting based on your pet's medical history and recent activities. For example, if you have noticed your pet curiously exploring around the house or sniffing the refrigerator, it's possible he could have ingested something he shouldn't have. 

Because you spend every day with your pet, you'll likely be your vet's best source of information as they attempt to diagnose the issue. Your vet will then test for, diagnose and try to treat the condition. 

Ideally, treatment will be aimed at the underlying problem and may be as simple as temporarily withholding food or as complex as surgery or oncological care.

For Occasional or Infrequent Vomiting

Avoid giving your pet food for 12 hours. You can give them up to 3 tablespoons of water every 30 minutes or provide them with ice cubes in the meantime.

After 12 hours, reintroduce the water bowl. Start feeding with a few teaspoons of bland food. If they can keep it down, feed them a little every hour or two.

If the vomiting stops, you can begin feeding them as usual the next day.

For Severe Vomiting

Remove any food that your dog or cat can get into. Inspect your pet for signs of dehydration or shock, including pale skin and gums and abnormal disposition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog or cat can't stop vomiting or having diarrhea, contact our Lexington hospital right away for emergency veterinary care.

Specialty & Emergency Care

Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency is open 24/7 for emergencies and is accepting patients for specialty appointments. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lexington companion animals. 

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