Got a Dog With Diarrhea? Or a Vomiting Cat? Here's How to Manage the Mess

Dietary Details

Many pet owners want to give their dogs or cats food after they have vomited or have had diarrhea, but this is mainly to help themselves feel better. Do you feel like eating after you’ve had a digestive disaster? I didn’t think so.

The standard advice for a pet who has upchucked is to withdraw food for 12 to 24 hours to give the stomach a rest and then feed small amounts of a bland meal, such as boiled hamburger and rice (unless your veterinarian advises otherwise). In cats, food shouldn't be withheld for longer than 24 hours.

The boiled hamburger-and-rice meal can work for mild digestive upset. Another option I like to recommend is that people have three cans of a special veterinary gastrointestinal diet on hand for just such occasions. Once your pet’s, er, output is back to normal, you can gradually reintroduce his usual food.

Instead of providing water, put ice cubes in your pet’s drinking dish. That way, they melt slowly and ensure that he doesn’t take in too much water all at once.

Spotting an Emergency

How do you know if a case of vomiting or diarrhea warrants a visit to the veterinarian? Puppies, kittens and older animals are more prone to dehydration and may benefit from subcutaneous fluids and anti-diarrheal medications, so it’s best to take them in sooner rather than later. Other causes for concern are an increase in the volume or frequency of vomiting or diarrhea; the presence of blood in the vomit or diarrhea; and signs of discomfort, such as straining or lethargy. When in doubt, call your veterinarian.

An occasional bout of vomiting or diarrhea in pets isn’t unusual, but if it continues or occurs frequently, it’s cause for concern. Schedule a visit with your veterinarian if the problem persists or you have any lingering worries.

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