Disease and Illnesses of dogs – Vomiting and diarrhoea


Vomiting and diarrhoea are very common in dogs. The most common cause of a gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhoea is scavenging or eating something your dog shouldn’t have done that disagrees with him or her and causes a ‘tummy upset’. However, there are many other causes of both and a large number of different dog diseases where vomiting and / or diarrhoea can occur. In a lot of cases the problem can be successfully treated and resolved without actually establishing the cause, but sometimes, if the diarrhoea or vomiting is serious or ongoing for a long period of time your vet might decide that the case needs to be investigated further. This might be needed both in order to treat the sickness and/or diarrhoea successfully and to ensure it is not associated with another underlying disease that has not been diagnosed.

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So, what is diarrhoea? And what is vomiting?

Diarrhoea, or loose poo, occurs when the large intestine, which usually absorbs water from the gut, stops working properly. This results in the faeces containing much more fluid than normal ie: diarrhoea. You might notice your dog going to the toilet more often, having accidents in the house, or straining a lot. Alternatively, they be going no more frequently, but when they do there is loose – or sometimes explosive – diarrhoea, or the poo may have blood or mucus in it. Vomiting involves the contents of the stomach being brought up, out of the mouth. This is often self-protection by your body as it attempts to remove something that doesn’t ‘agree’ with it and could be harmful or toxic. Any food brought up will usually be digested and it might be mixed with yellow bile or stomach juices. Your dog may also wretch or bring up large amounts of saliva.

What can cause vomiting and diarrhoea?

There are many causes, including infections caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites, diet changes or scavenging, and eating poisons or toxic chemicals. If your dog is very excited, anxious or stressed they may also have sickness or diarrhoea. Finally, more serious conditions such as a blockage in the gut, damage to a body organ, or other diseases affecting elsewhere in the body can also have effects on the digestive system can cause your dog to vomit or have diarrhoea.

Should I be worried?

Most cases of diarrhoea or vomiting tend to be short, lasting up to 2 days, or perhaps slightly longer. They will often clear up on their own, so you may well not need to visit a vet. Instead, you should feed a bland diet to your dog little and often (such as boiled chicken, boiled white fish, and rice) or you might choose to starve them for 24 hours first before starting this. Ensure there is plenty of fresh water available. It may well also help to use a product to thicken up the poo and reduce the diarrhoea, such as Protexin Prokolin or Canikur Pro-Paste. However, if you feel worried consider a vet visit sooner rather than later. Concerning signs include if your dog is ill, dehydrated or painful, there is fresh blood in the vomit or diarrhoea, or it is tarry (indicating digested blood). If the sickness and/or diarrhoea has continued for more than 2 days, it would also be advisable to see a vet.

What might my vet do? And what treatments might they give?

Your vet may feel it is important to investigate and try to establish a cause of the sickness or diarrhoea, in which case investigations may include a blood test or imaging such as X-rays and ultrasound scans (for example, to see if there is something stuck in the gut). Sometimes, samples of your dog’s diarrhoea may be taken to examine, particularly if there is a suspicion of an infectious cause.
Treatments offered may include fluids – sometimes into the vein by a drip if your dog is dehydrated or vomiting a lot – and stomach protectants or medications to stop your dog vomiting or make them feel less nauseous. Often these treatments will be by injection. Electrolyte solutions to replace your dog’s minerals and products such as Protexin Prokolin or Canikur Pro-Pastemight be given. Antibiotics or anti-parasitic treatments (such as wormers) may also be prescribed, depending on the case.

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