The pet’s GI, or gastrointestinal, tract, is a word used to describe the tube that takes food from the mouth, to the stomach, intestines, and colon. It may also include a number of organs that help with digestion of nutrients and removal of waste products, including the pancreas, liver, and kidneys, thyroid, and even the brain. Given that most of the body is included in this list, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when a pet becomes ill, one of the many signs we might see can include the GI tract, such as vomiting.
Vomiting is a very common complaint in our pets. You might think it means that there is something wrong with the GI tract itself, which may be true, but issues in many of the other organs of the can also lead to vomiting. This is why we recommend an examination, take a thorough history of signs, appetite, exposure to other pets, toxins, foods, etc. and may recommend tests including blood work to look at organ function, for signs of infection or anemia, stool analysis to look at bacterial balance, and x-rays or ultrasound to look internally at the organs.
Just to give you an idea of things that can cause vomiting in a pet, here is a list. It is by no means a complete list however, but does include some of the more common causes:
- nervous system dysfunction such as vestibular disease (vertigo), motion sickness, megaesophagus, or other motility issues within the GI tract
- toxin exposure or ingestion
- dietary indiscretion-this can range from eating something too rich or fatty which could lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), to eating something that just doesn’t agree with the pet and causes gastroenteritis or colitis (inflammation of the GI tract or colon respectively), or eating something that is harmful to the pet (toxin, foreign material)
- Hairballs and other foreign materials or blockages, also including intuscusseptions
- Bacterial overgrowth or imbalance
- Viral, bacterial, fungal, and other infections
- Ulcers or too much stomach acids
- GDV (twisted stomach) or bloat (though sometimes the symptom of these are vomiting WITHOUT producing anything)
- Inflammatory bowel disease, dietary intolerance, allergies, or allergic reactions
- Metabolic issues such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, Addison’s disease, or liver or kidney diseases
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons your pet may be vomiting, which is why we recommend coming in for an examination and testing as mentioned above. Pending results of the preliminary testing, further testing to look at more specific causes may be recommended such as an ACTH stimulation test, urinalysis, fructosamine level, culture and sensitivity, biopsies, diet changes, allergy testing, barium series, or others.
By working together to determine the cause of the vomiting, we hope to be able to come up with a specific treatment plan to help your pet (and your carpets!) feel better. Call us today if your pet is vomiting!