As with every post of this nature, I state at the beginning that I am NOT a Veterinarian. This blog should never replace or steer you away from visiting your veterinarian when your dog needs attention. Then why bother to write this? And why should you bother to read it? What I do is “Speak Veterinarian Language”. As with many medical professionals, Vets speak a technical and complicated language. I have made it my business to understand what they mean, and then make it understandable to people that don’t have the time to study what they are saying. In the writing of this blog, I pass everything by a Vet for accuracy. Hopefully, it relieves some of the stress of having a sick puppy, and gives you a foundation for asking your Veterinary Professional informed questions…
More than any other problem, we hear questions and concerns about puppies and dogs vomiting. This is good, because it means you are concerned, observant, and caring. Nothing seems to cause dog owners more worry than vomiting, diarrhea, or other digestive problems. Words like “Mega Esophagus”, “Bloat”, and “malabsorption” are very frightening, (and justifiably so.) So I want to share a bit of information to help you thru these concerns. Often, they are simple troubles, that relieve themselves. When they are not, knowledge is your best ally.
The most important thing I can start with is this: Canines have a highly developed part of their brain that controls vomiting. Far more so than the human version. Dogs may vomit when mentally stressed. They might vomit when they eat something they shouldn’t. (And they WILL!) They vomit when they eat too fast, or too much. They may suffer motion sickness, especially as puppies. They may vomit when forced to watch American Idol or The Voice… Fortunately, you can help your dog get thru these things yourself. Bottom line? If your dog vomits, DON’T PANIC, BUT DO BE ATTENTIVE AND OBSERVANT. First, follow a simple procedure to reason out what is happening. Your first question should be:
1) Is my dog/puppy vomiting or regurgitating?
Regurgitating is a relatively effortless spitting up of food that is undigested. It happens when the dogs esophagus is physically blocked by an obstruction, or the controlling muscles of the swallowing action are not working properly due to disease or injury.
Vomiting is a more forceful, even violent expulsion of the stomach contents. Usually, drooling or retching will come before the ultimate event, and the results will have a nasty smell, and the appearance of yellowish stomach bile. Very unpleasant, and a sure sign that your dog is at least sick to his stomach, if not something worse.
Most books or veterinary websites have a tendency to start with the “worst case scenarios. ” They are designed to make you run to the Doctors office without a moment’s delay. Which is not a bad idea, but is promoted by those with a financial interest in your dog. A more measured and reasoned approach might be more reasonable.
There are some investigative questions you can ask yourself when deciding what to do:
1) Is the vomiting a “One-time only” occurrence?
2) Is it happening persistently or is it chronic?
3) How close to meal intake does it happen? Immediately? 30 minutes? An Hour?
4) What are the contents of the vomit? Fecal matter? Paper? Bad meat? Blood? Be specific!
5) Is it frothy and clear?
Your first step, if you suspect indigestion, is to rest the dogs stomach for several hours. No food, no water for several hours. Some recommend up to 12 hours. If the vomiting ceases, a few ice cubes may be allowed. You want to keep the dog from dehydrating, as persistent vomiting will do. After this time has elapsed, soft, bland food, may be allowed in small quantities. Cottage cheese, boiled rice with a bit of hamburger, even strained meat content baby food. Watch for your dogs reaction to the food. If vomiting recurs, stop feeding, and call the Vet.
If diarrhea accompanies the vomiting, don’t take the risk. Call your Vet. If blood or a substance that resembles coffee grounds appears, call the Vet. Lethargy and unconsciousness are obvious signs of CALL THE VET!!!
An unproductive attempt to vomit, with obvious distress, is a sign of bloat. We all fear this, so don’t delay…Call the Vet, Get in your car, and GO!
Let’s talk Diarrhea for a moment: The top two reasons for diarrhea in your dog are Eating something bad, (spoiled food, feces, spicy human food, etc.) or internal parasites. But be aware that many canine infectious disease accompany diarrhea. If the condition is persistent and regular, take note of everything your dog eats! It may require a food change, or other action. Food that your dog eats takes between 7 and 10 hours to pass thru the small intestine, so be aware of WHEN your dog ate. Your dog may have a Food intolerance of some sort, lactose, certain grains, salt, fat, or other things. Human food is usually a culprit behind mild diarrhea. Resting the dogs stomach intake for 12 to 24 hours will give you an idea what may be causing the problem. Again, asking and answering certain questions will help you decide what action needs to be taken.
1) Color of stool. Black? Bright Red? Blood is mixed in there, consult a Vet.
2) Has the diarrhea lasted more than 24 hours?
3) Is the dog listless or inactive?
Don’t ignore, or say, “That’s just my dog’s digestive system. He’s fine…” Such symptoms are painful to your dog, and they are experts at hiding discomfort and pain. Be observant, and pro-active.
Above all else, be knowledgable of What your dog eats, what’s in the food you feed, (Many commercially available kibbles mixes are crap in a bag) and be sure that your dog has fresh, clean, water all the time!!! The Omorrow Facebook page is a well-spring of good advice on feeding your dog, take advantage of it and LEARN!!! http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hp#!/omorrow.shepherds