Dr. Julie Damron

2 minutes reading time (413 words)

Chronic vomiting can signal other health risks

By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record July 12th, 2008

If your pet is vomiting once a month or more, it is a symptom of some underlying disease process.

Chronic vomiting can trigger several additional health problems. Any time a pet vomits, he or she risks inhaling some of the vomited material into the lungs.

This is known as aspiration and can result in pneumonia. Repeated vomiting is also irritating to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and can result in ulceration, secondary infection, strictures and adhesions. Over time, it can cause weight loss, a failure to thrive and other symptoms such as diarrhea.

To resolve this issue, it is important to identify the cause. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of potential underlying problems, and some diseases are more serious or difficult to treat than others. While all the potential causes are too numerous to list here, they include irritable bowel disease, organ disease, hormonal imbalances, parasites, acid reflux, obstructions, ulcers, toxins and foreign body ingestion.

The only situations that are less of a medical concern are hairballs and binge-purge eating. It is still recommended to give medication to reduce hairballs along with frequent brushing. Binge-purge eating patterns can be reduced by feeding small amounts of food frequently, placing a large rock in the food bowl or feeding from a larger container such as a casserole dish.

A medical work up will be needed to identify the underlying disease process. Initially, a blood panel, urinalysis and fecal tests will be recommended. X-rays and/or an ultrasound also might be suggested. A surgical exploration or intestinal scoping with biopsies ultimately could be needed to determine the underlying cause.

Food is frequently withheld for 12 to 24 hours, and then a bland diet is fed in small amounts. Depending on how ill the dog or cat is, hospitalization and IV fluids may be needed. Medications such as antibiotics, antacids and drugs to reduce vomiting or change intestinal motility can be used. A dewormer may be administered even if fecal results are negative.

Please take your dog or cat in for treatment as soon as you notice frequent vomiting. Your veterinarian will design an individual treatment plan for your companion based on the symptoms, severity and potential causes of illness. As with most health concerns, the sooner the initiating cause is identified and treated, the better the prognosis for your pet.

Julie Damron is a veterinarian at Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton. Read all her columns at recordnet.com. Contact her at .

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