Pets are a lot like babies in that they can’t always tell you when they’re not feeling good.It can be scary and frustrating trying to determine when to take your pet to the vet. Home remedies and common sense can help with minor problems but sometimes pets need to
get to the doctor to stop a simple problem from becoming life threatening. The followingare some common ailments and some advice on how to handle the situation.
Vomiting is a symptom rather than a disease. It is a very non-specific symptom, which means it can occur with many disease processes. Many times, simple cases of vomiting are self-limiting; they resolve on their own after a few days. But vomiting can also occur with many illnesses, some very serious. Intestinal or stomach viruses, parasites, changes in diet, endocrine disease, cancer, kidney disease, bowl obstruction and poisoning can all lead to vomiting. Cats will sometimes vomit from ingesting too much hair after they groom themselves and puppies will vomit from just a car ride. Even simple cases of vomiting can lead to death due to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Additionally, puppies, kittens, and senior patients are much more sensitive to this and require careful monitoring and treatment to prevent vomiting from becoming fatal.
So, as you can see cats and dogs will vomit for a variety of reasons but the most common is eating something that upsets their stomach or intestines, i.e. hair or garbage. If your pet vomits, but seems otherwise healthy, the best thing to do is to take away the food for 12 to 24 hours. You still want to give water though, so they don’t get dehydrated. Small amounts every couple of hours is best. The cells that line the stomach turn over very rapidly and can heal themselves. If your pet has been able to keep liquids down after 24 hours, you can start feeding them small amounts of a bland diet like cottage cheese and cooked rice or boiled white meat chicken and rice. Frequent small feedings are best and then gradually mix in their regular diet. If your pet cannot keep water down or is lethargic, running a fever or exhibiting abdominal pain you must take them to the vet. If they repeatedly vomit food even though they can keep water down, you need to take them to your vet as well. You can also call your vet who may instruct you to give over-the-counter medicine such as pepcid but I would check with your vet first. Remember these rules do not always apply to kittens and puppies so you should call your vet first.
Diarrhea is something that at one time or another your pet will probably experience. Again, diarrhea is a symptom not a disease and just like vomiting can occur with a wide variety of illnesses and ailments. Diarrhea can also, if severe and lengthy, lead to death due to dehydration, protein loss and electrolyte imbalance. Mild cases can be resolved with simple treatments. Diarrhea can be secondary to stomach or intestinal viruses, intestinal cancer, colitis, parasites, change in diet and endocrine disease. Your veterinarian should treat bloody diarrhea, persistent diarrhea, or diarrhea associates with other clinical signs such as vomiting, lethargy or abdominal pain immediately. If your dog seems healthy but has developed diarrhea the best thing to do, like vomiting, is to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours to allow the cells that line the intestinal tract time to heal. Water should be given to prevent dehydration and often-mild cases of diarrhea will resolve. Then start offering a bland diet such as cottage cheese and rice or boiled white meat chicken and rice. You can give over the counter medicine such as Imodium but I would check with your vet first.
Lameness is very common in pets and simple cases may resolve on their own. But if your pet cannot put any weight on its limb or is very painful then you need to see your vet right away. On the other hand, if your pet is limping but will let you examine the leg and paw and is not too painful then try resting your pet for a couple of days. This means no walks, only going out to potty and then coming right in. Mild cases of muscle aches and pains will resolve with rest, and you can call your vet to see if an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory is appropriate such as aspirin. Cats are very sensitive to such medicine and one Tylenol can cause death so never give anything to your cat without checking with your vet first. If the lameness has improved with rest, then gradually work up to their normal routine. This means starting out with short walks and lengthening them over a couple of weeks.
Many times, simple cases of vomiting, diarrhea and lameness will resolve without having to take your pet to the vet. However, there are times when you should always take your pet in for treatment; coughing, wounds of any kind, eye problems and difficulty breathing are all symptoms that necessitate a trip to the vet. Sometimes taking your pet to the vet sooner rather than later can not only save you time and money but it can also save your pet’s life!