Of all the illnesses I have to deal with in my humble little practice, the one that gives me the most challenge is that of cats and dogs vomiting. Just for fun this morning, I typed in to the Google search engine the words “vomiting in dogs” and got 276,000 replies. I got 767,000 hits for “vomiting in cats! My point is, that with the exception of the obvious causes where the owner actually sees the dog getting in the garbage or eating a rotten deer carcass, most of the time I cannot give an absolute answer as to why they’re pet is throwing up. And it drives me crazy!

There are literally thousands of things that cause vomiting in our pets. In my practice, here are the top reasons I see. The first is the general category known as dietary indiscretion. That’s a fancy medical term meaning the dog has eaten too much of what it normally eats, or, its eaten something it shouldn’t have eaten. Some examples are: getting in the garbage, eating dead critters in the forest, getting fed table scraps by all of the visiting grand children, etc., etc. Although most of the time the problem goes away in a couple of days, it can also be fatal. Occasionally, the dietary indiscretion can lead to more serious illnesses such as pancreatitis, botulism and E. Coli infections, and rarely, intestinal blockage.

A second common cause of vomiting is worms, especially if the dog acts fine otherwise. There are a couple of theories why as to why this is so. One is that the worms literally block the intestinal tract and don’t allow food to pass. Another is that when the worms crawl and slither around in your pet’s intestines doing their little repulsive worm-things, this movement causes the guts to spasm which, in turn, leads to expulsion of the gut contents.

A third simple cause is just an uncomplicated gastritis or enteritis. By this I mean any minor irritation or infection of the stomach or guts. How do they get it? It can be something as simple as eating a piece of rabbit poop or some seeds that have fallen down from a bird feeder to getting into the compost pile. But most of time, however, we don’t know. I’m told it happens all of the time in our own species and that a good deal of the time, my esteemed human counterparts, likewise, have no clue as to why as well.

Finally, reasons number 4 through 276,000 are a little tougher and more expensive to diagnose but can include such things as: parvo virus infection in unvaccinated dogs, liver insufficiency, pancreatic insufficiency, kidney disease, intestinal cancer, spasmodic pyloric sphincter, intestinal blockage, irritable bowel disease, and on and on and on. Thanks again.

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