Vomiting is defined as the active and forceful expulsion of stomach contents, and it is a common reason owners seek urgent and emergent care for their pets. In fact, recent data from several pet insurance providers revealed that gastrointestinal tract abnormalities were the most common reasons for non-wellness related veterinary care in both dogs and cats. Pet owners often inquire as to whether or not veterinary care is needed for the vomiting pet. Unfortunately, the question is more complex than it sounds.
Vomiting can be mild and self-limiting, resolving without any intervention. Vomiting can be a sign of severe and life-threatening disease. And of course, there is everything in between. To further complicate matters, vomiting is often a result of actual gastrointestinal disease, but it can also result from various systemic and metabolic conditions. Dietary indiscretion, intestinal blockages, liver disease, and pancreatitis all result in a similar set of clinical signs.
So, there is no easy answer to the question as to whether vomiting warrants emergency care, but the following are some situations in which a visit to the emergency clinic would be advised:
- Vomiting for consecutive days, especially if appetite is concurrently decreased
- Ingestion of foreign material (ball, corn cob, etc) prior to vomiting
- Multiple vomiting episodes in one day
- Vomit that contains frank blood (red) or digested blood (coffee-ground appearance)
- Vomiting that is associated with concurrent lethargy or weakness
The GLVC team can carefully assess your vomiting pet and decide the best course of action. We have in-house laboratory equipment and digital radiography. We also have all of the surgical tools and capabilities for those dogs and cats that made poor dietary decisions! Whether your pet needs a simple in-and-out treatment with an anti-nausea medication or multiple days of in-hospital treatment, our team is well-equipped to handle the emergent and not-so-emergent cases of vomiting.
Daniel Langlois; DVM, DACVIM
Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine
GLVC Medical Director