There is rarely a day that goes by where we don’t see an animal who has been vomiting lots quite suddenly or has been intermittently vomiting for a fair period of time. Dogs and cats in particular are prone to vomiting.
You would think, therefore, that we would be masters at knowing the cause for this symptom in each and every animal. However, vomiting is a very non-specific clinical symptom. Many, many conditions will cause vomiting.
In its simplest sense, vomiting is the body’s natural defence mechanism to get something it deems harmful to the body back out! Infection by bacteria, parasites, viruses, ingestion of an irritating or even poisons, foreign objects causing blockages, a twisted stomach or irritable bowel disease are naming a few which are caused by the direct primarily. Lots of other problems around the rest of the body cause vomiting also; pancreatitis, pyometra (infected wombs), liver disease, kidney disease, hormonal disease, diabetes and ear disease are again just a few of them.
Our job is to take a logical approach to each pet. Firstly, we gain an accurate and precise history from the owner (this is why we ask you so many questions!), to perform a physical examination (this is why telemedicine consultations during COVID-19 restrictions are not an ideal solution to the pandemic social distancing we faced), together with blood work and imaging to form a complete picture of the patient.
This way we can diagnose the problem and see what other effects the vomiting has had on the body which may be more pressing to treat!
The biggest threat to our pets is the dehydration that can swiftly ensue once vomiting begins. Other serious complications can continue from here. Some pets can be treated as outpatients, leaving the same consultation they walked into with some supportive medication and a seemingly ‘quick fix’. Other may need to stay with us so we can look into their condition a little more deeply and treat them in a more urgent way.
We wish animals could talk so we could get the answer a little quicker sometimes but we now that even with some humans, it can take time and a bit of detection work!