As we approach that time of year when we experience an increased frequency of overindulgence and digestive distress of all varieties, it is important to think about our pets as well. Pet tummy trouble happens, but luckily if it happens to your furry family this holiday season, The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital are here to help.

The Usual Suspects

Pet tummy trouble has many faces. It may show up as diarrhea or vomiting, or perhaps your pet is a little more gassy than normal. Some pets experiencing digestive issues may eat grass, turn up their nose at dinner, or just have some abdominal pain.

Perhaps the most difficult thing about digestive issues in pets is the fact that symptoms can be so vague. Some pets may show very little indication there is a problem, and the same symptoms can mean a variety of things.

We see pet tummy trouble of all varieties, however some offenders are more common than others. Some of the more common culprits when it comes to digestive distress in pets include:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Dietary indiscretion (eating something that doesn’t agree with the digestive tract)
  • Ingestion of a toxin
  • Foreign body ingestion
  • Pancreatitis
  • Bacterial or viral infection such as parvovirus
  • Food allergy or sensitivity
  • Systemic illness such as uncontrolled diabetes

Of course there are many other possibilities. In order to determine the cause of digestive problems in pets, we cannot rely on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing is typically necessary to get to the root of the problem.

Avoiding Pet Tummy Trouble

Caring for a pet experiencing tummy issues is not on anyone’s list of fun things to do. Luckily there are a few things that you can to to ward of pet tummy trouble.

Be sure to:

  • Feed a consistent, high quality diet
  • Make any diet changes slowly, over the course of 7-14 days
  • Keep your pet on intestinal parasite prevention as recommended
  • Bring us a fecal sample once to twice yearly to screen for intestinal parasites
  • Do not feed your pet table scraps
  • Keep garbage and other tempting treats secure from your pet
  • Avoid allowing access to potentially toxic or dangerous objects
  • Bring your pet in as recommended for wellness checks so that we can catch problems before they cause issues

No matter how careful you are, though, sometimes pet tummy trouble can happen. Being prepared is half the battle.

What to Do When Trouble Strikes

If your pet is experiencing signs of a digestive problem, it is reasonable to monitor things at home for a period of time. Many times these types of issues are fleeting and resolve without medical intervention.

Be sure to stop feeding any treats or table food. If there is vomiting or diarrhea it is often wise to remove your pet’s food entirely for a few hours to allow the digestive tract time to rest. When you do offer food, offer only small amounts of a bland, easy to digest offering (lean boiled chicken and white rice are often suggested).

Do not offer your pet any medications without our instruction. Human medications may be dangerous or harmful, especially in certain circumstances. Even previously prescribed pet medication may not be appropriate in certain situations. Always call us before administering anything at home.

Because many causes of pet tummy trouble can appear similarly, from the most benign to the most serious, it can be hard for pet parents to know when it is an emergency. When in doubt, it is always best to get things checked out. We definitely need to see your pet right away, though, if:

  • Your pet has vomited more than twice in a 24 hour period
  • Your pet has had diarrhea more than twice in a 24 hour period
  • There is a known toxin or foreign object ingestion
  • Your pet appears to be in pain or otherwise distressed
  • Your pet’s condition seems to be worsening
  • Symptoms last longer than 48 hours
  • Your pet is very small, young, or otherwise debilitated
  • Your pet is unable to keep food or water down
  • There is visible blood in the stool or vomit
  • Your pet is trying to vomit without producing anything
  • Your pet refuses food or water entirely for more than 12 hours
  • There are signs of dehydration

It is never the wrong answer to bring your pet in. Even for less serious diagnoses, we are often able to help get your pet back on their feet sooner with treatment. Never hesitate to call, The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital are here to help.