Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tummy Aches in Your Pet

A tummy ache is never fun for people, but it can be life threatening
for your pet.
“It's not uncommon for most animals to have upset stomachs and vomit
 from time to time, but there's usually a simple reason,” says Dr. Deb
Zoran, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
 Medicine; Biomedical Sciences.
Vomiting may be caused by a hairball in the stomach or small intestine
 or by other foreign material, such as plants, rocks or bones. Diet could
 also be a cause.
"If a dog or cat has had a change of diet or if it has eaten spoiled food,
 it can result in nausea or vomiting," adds Zoran. "Just like when humans
get food poisoning, the symptoms usually go away within 24 hours.
The digestive tract is cleared and whatever was causing the problem is
 gone. However, if the animal hasrepeated vomiting, won't eat, or the
 symptoms continue for more than24 hours, the animal needs to see a
veterinarian immediately."
Zoran says frequent pet vomiting can be a difficult problem to pinpoint.
"The causes are numerous - food allergies, infection or inflammation in the
intestinal tract, foreign objects that obstruct the bowel, ulcers, liver or
 kidney failure, diabetes, cancer - the list can go on and on," says Zoran.
If the animal has been vomiting for more than 24 hours, the most serious
problems are dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. The animal has lost
 body fluids and they need to be replaced right away, then the source of the
problem can be examined.
X-rays can often detect the source of the vomiting, and as with humans,
 barium liquid can be administered to the pet to outline the digestive

Other tests that may be necessary include ultrasound, blood work, and
an endoscopic examination to determine the problem.
"One key question is, does the cause of the vomiting come from inside
the G.I. (gastrointestinal) tract or is it hidden elsewhere in the animal?"
 Zoran adds. "If the problem is not in the G.I. tract, it can be harder to detect."
If the pet owner detects blood in any food the animal has vomited, that
should be a warning sign that something is not right.
"If blood is present, it's a serious problem and possibly a life-threatening
 problem," says Zoran.
"Unfortunately, it may not look like blood because the stomach acids will
 digest any blood present and the blood may look something like coffee
grounds. The best answer is, if you don't think it looks like food, the
 animal needs medical attention as soon as possible," says Zoran.
Other signs that should alarm pet owners: if the animal vomits every
time it eats, vomits multiple times per day, or if the animal won't eat at
all and appears to be weak and depressed.
"All of these are warning signs that something serious is wrong and the
pet needs medical help immediately," says Zoran.
Frequent or persistent vomiting in any animal is not normal. If the animal
 has been vomiting excessively, it's essential that it sees a veterinarian.
ABOUT PET TALK Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
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