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Vomiting & Diarrhea in Dogs & Cats
Vomiting and diarrhea are related to a number of problems that are known collectively as gastroenteritis. Some cases can be severe and life threatening while others can be mild and self-limiting. 


One of the most common reasons why cats and dogs are taken to their veterinarian is gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis can manifest as vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, abdominal pain, and lethargy. Many cases of gastroenteritis are mild and resolve with supportive care. Other cases can be very severe and life-threatening if not treated by a veterinarian quickly. Additionally, some cases are chronic and require advanced diagnostics to determine the underlying cause. 


What are some of the common causes of vomiting and diarrhea?


There are a plethora of causes of vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats. Some of the most common causes of vomiting and diarrhea include:


Mild cases:

  • Dietary intolerance or indiscretion

  • Intestinal parasites

  • Motion sickness

  • Bacterial/viral gastritis/enteritis


Severe cases:​

  • Foreign body ingestion

  • Ingestion of noxious substances

  • Systemic illness

  • Pancreatitis

  • Parvo virus

What tests can be done to determine the cause?

Some mild cases of gastroenteritis can be diagnosed based on history and physical exam. However, your veterinarian might recommend specific tests to determine the cause and help guide treatment. Some of the most commonly used tests include:​

  • Fecal examination to check for intestinal parasites

  • Abdominal x-rays to identify possible GI obstruction or mass

  • Labwork to identify systemic illness

  • Abdominal ultrasound (sonogram) for enhanced images of GI organs

How do you treat a dog or cat with gastroenteritis?


Treatment for gastroenteritis depends on the severity of illness and underlying cause. Please do not give your pet any medications before first consulting your veterinarian. For many mild cases, the vomiting and diarrhea will resolve on its own within a few days. Your veterinarian might recommend a bland diet, probiotics, and GI supportive medication. 

For severe gastrointestinal illness, your veterinarian will recommend specific treatment targeted to the underlying problem. Many dogs and cats with gastrointestinal disease are very dehydrated and require fluid therapy in the hospital. Some patients might require surgery to relieve a life-threatening GI obstruction.


If the problem has persisted for an extended period a time, your veterinarian might recommend a specific diet and/or other medications based on your pet's needs.

When in doubt about a pet that is vomiting or has diarrhea, it is always best to seek veterinary advice before treating on your own. Our team at Oasis Animal Hospital is always here to help.

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