Emergency conditions

Persistent vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats

The most common reason for animals to come to the veterinary clinic is problems with the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms of diseases of the digestive system are very similar, regardless of the etiology of the disease. The reasons for the problems of the digestive tract are numerous and can be simple, which are reflected in eating food that is harder to digest in the intestines and leads to mild changes, through infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, but also many complicated and serious diseases, such as neoplasia and immune diseases of the digestive tract.

Sick dog

Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms. Vomiting usually indicates that the problem is localized in the stomach or upper parts of the small intestine, while diarrhea occurs due to problems in any part of the intestine. If they are not intensive, the treatment is carried out in internal medicine clinics in the form of supportive therapy, with or without specific therapy of the cause. However, in certain situations, the losses caused by vomiting and diarrhea are extensive and can lead to serious systemic changes in the body, with the appearance of hypovolemic shock, which requires urgent hospitalization and intensive care.

The appearance of the vomited contents as well as the feces can indicate the specific etiology of the disease. If it is vomiting due to the intake of a foreign body, it is possible to see pieces of swallowed foreign body in the vomited contents. If there is bleeding at the level of the digestive tract, it is possible to see this by observing the color of the vomited contents and feces (they are mostly dark in color and occur as a consequence of “digestion” of blood in the digestive tract). Also, the consistency of feces, the frequency, the presence of fresh or boiled blood can tell us whether the process is localized in the small intestine or large intestine.

In severe conditions, patient stabilization is vital. Replenishment of lost fluids and electrolytes, through fluid therapy, as well as targeted therapy to prevent further losses is very important. It is important to eliminate the signs of shock if they are present and rehydrate the animal (this takes time and, often, hospitalization of the patient, in order to compensate for all losses in an adequate interval, without creating additional problems). After stabilization, further diagnosis is often required to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.