Your pet is vomiting, should you be concerned? This question is one of the most common reasons pet owners call their veterinarians for advice. Below are some tips for determining whether vomiting warrants a trip to the vet’s office or not.
Signs that Vomiting May Not Be Serious
Animals that hunt and scavenge for a living are built to vomit. This protects them when they inadvertently eat something that they would have been better off avoiding, but it also causes healthy domestic dogs and cats to vomit more frequently than their owners might think is normal. If any of the following applies to your situation, your pet’s symptoms may not be cause for concern:
- infrequent vomiting – less than once a week constitutes “infrequent”
- the cause is obvious – he ate too much, too quickly or something gross, he gets carsick, or a cat is a fastidious self-groomer and brings up the occasional hairball
- a previous diagnosis – the pet has a chronic condition or is being treated with medications known to cause occasional vomiting
- the dog or cat is normal in all other ways
- vomiting worms after being treated with a dewormer – roundworms are the most likely culprit, particularly in puppies in kittens. As long as the pet continues to eat and drink and seems to feel fine, this is no reason for concern.
- vomiting frothy yellow or orange-tinged fluid on an empty stomach – small breed dogs are at particular risk for a condition known as “bilious vomiting syndrome.” Most cases can be managed by offering two or three small meals throughout the day rather than one big one .
Call the Vet!
There are times, however, when vomiting can be indicative of a serious medical problem. If your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms, play it safe and call your veterinarian:
- frequent vomiting – pets that vomit frequently can quickly become debilitated
- projectile vomiting – this can be a sign of an obstructed gastrointestinal tract
- poor appetite and lethargy
- diarrhea – the combination of vomiting and diarrhea can quickly result in dehydration
- weight loss – it takes time for weight loss to become obvious, so this indicates a more chronic and serious condition
- changes in drinking and urinary habits – increased thirst and/or decreased urine production is seen with dehydration
- abdominal pain and/or enlargement – these symptoms are generally seen with the more serious causes of vomiting in dogs and cats
- repeated attempts at vomiting but nothing is produced – this is a classic symptom of gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat), a potentially life-threatening condition that is most frequently seen in large, deep-chested breeds of dogs.
- the presence of red blood or material that looks like coffee grounds in the vomit – fresh blood appears red while partially digested blood resembles coffee grounds. It should go without saying that gastrointestinal bleeding warrants a trip to the veterinarian.
- the vomit is bright green– some types of rodenticides (poisons used to kill mice and rats) are dyed a bright green color. These poisons can also kill pets that don’t receive timely and appropriate treatment.