My dog’s being sick, what should I do? My dog’s got diarrhoea, what do I do?
Vomiting, diarrhoea, and upset tummies in various forms are one of the most common reasons we see ill dogs. They seem to happen a lot more at this time of year, so what should you do to prevent them?
Well, it sounds obvious, but the most common cause of an upset stomach is that your dog eats something unusual.
This could be something they’ve found on a walk, such as discarded food and other rubbish – or even leftovers at a barbecue, so be careful not to allow them to pick anything up. It could also be because you think your dog might like a bit of a treat or to try something different; any change from their normal diet can cause trouble. Dogs are perfectly content to eat the same thing every day and really don’t need the variety that we do. So make sure you give them something their stomach is used to; a good quality dried food such as Hills, Eukanuba or Royal Canin. Any change in food should be gradually phased in over about 10 days
“Garbage gastritis,” i.e. eating something they shouldn’t, is the most common cause of sickness and diarrhoea and is easily treated. Providing the vomiting isn’t too frequent and there isn’t blood in the vomit or diarrhoea then the first move is to fast your dog for 24 hours. They should be given small amounts of water frequently to ensure that they don’t dehydrate. After 24 hours they can be given small amounts of bland food e.g. chicken and rice.
However, if a dog is so ill that it can’t even keep down water, then it should be seen by a vet that day. There are fast-acting injections that can ensure that the vomiting stops.
If there’s any blood in the vomit, then it’s more worrying. Blood in vomit signifies damage to the lining of the stomach and might mean that your dog has gastric ulceration or the very worrying Parvovirus.
Parvovirus is a disease that most dog owners have heard of. It’s a very serious virus which affects all dogs, but especially targets puppies who have no immunity. It can cause death in 85% of untreated dogs, but dogs may survive if aggressively treated as an in-patient with intravenous fluids, and drugs. This treatment can cost several thousand pounds.
While it’s a very serious disease, it can be easily and cheaply prevented with annual vaccinations; just ask your vet for details. The virus can survive for six months in soil and can be carried into the house on shoes, so all dogs should be vaccinated against it.
Other serious causes of vomiting are foreign bodies – a physical object which causes a blockage. For example, eating plastic toys, socks, or string. Potentially lethal, they often require x-rays to make the diagnosis and an operation to remove the blockage. If your dog may have eaten a foreign object and is vomiting then seek the attention of a vet immediately.
There are other causes of vomiting which are not quite so clear-cut. Pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, is another potential life-threatening disease. It happens when the digestive enzymes that the pancreas produces start to attack the organ itself. This is much more common in overweight dogs or dogs who have been given or stolen a fatty meal. This disease requires strong painkillers and often a stay in hospital on a drip.
To sum up, here’s my advice for those of you with a vomiting dog:
- If the vomiting is occasional and your dog can keep water down, then fast them for 24 hours and offer light food
for a few days.
- If the sickness or diarrhoea has not resolved in 24 hours, then call your vet.
- If there’s any blood in the vomit or diarrhoea, then seek veterinary attention.
- If you think that a dog has eaten a foreign body and is vomiting then you need to see a vet urgently.