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Common Causes of Upset Stomach for Pets

upset-stomachGastritis, or inflammation of the stomach lining, is a leading cause of vet visits every year for cats and dogs. Gastritis can be acute, which means it lasts less than seven days (and typically not longer than 48 hours), or chronic, which is long lasting and usually caused by long-term exposure to stomach irritants. Treatment for both types involved determining the underlying cause and removing the source of irritation and inflammation.

Symptoms and Causes of Acute Gastritis

Acute gastritis is characterized by vomiting for one week or less. Nausea and lethargy are commonly seen, and most pets vomit soon after eating. Other symptoms rarely occur, although diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy may be present depending on the cause of the acute symptoms. In most cases, acute gastritis occurs when your cat or dog eats spoiled food or something that disagrees with her, such as a plant or foreign object. It may also develop in response to an allergic reaction to a food or ingestion of a toxin or chemical irritant. Sometimes, viral or bacterial infections, acute pancreatitis, sepsis, or other serious illnesses can trigger acute stomach upset and vomiting in dogs and cats.

Symptoms and Causes of Chronic Gastritis

Chronic gastritis lasts longer than one week and involves periodic episodes of vomiting. Affected animals may appear generally unwell, have a dull coat, lose weight, and/or be lethargic. Chronic gastritis usually develops in response to long-term exposure to the same things that cause acute gastritis, but it may sometimes indicate a serious underlying disease. Pets with chronic stomach upset and nausea must be checked for intestinal obstruction, stomach cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and other conditions, especially if symptoms such as weight loss or pain are present.

Gastritis Treatment Options

Treatment for acute and chronic gastritis depends on the underlying cause. When the underlying cause is innocent or involves food sensitivity or allergy, resting the stomach and then making permanent dietary changes is usually all that is required to manage the condition. Dogs and cats with stomach upset resulting from eating hair, plant material, fabric, or other substances may benefit from behavior therapy.

Acute gastritis caused by pancreatitis, kidney failure, or another disease may respond to pet medication or professional care. Work with your veterinarian to design a treatment plan and find a solution for your pet’s symptoms. Chronic gastritis usually responds to a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes and medication. Long-term medication or surgery may be necessary to correct structural problems or other conditions.


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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Dominic July 20, 2012, 6:27 am

    Just like humans vomiting for a cat is normal, it is normal behavior in that it is trying to rid itself of the unwanted product within its stomach.
    I have found that food being left out for long periods are a large source of cat sickness- especially wet food. This is increased when you factor in weather conditions.
    Good article though covering the range of upset stomach reasons and treatment methods.

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