What To Do if Your Pet is Vomiting

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

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The sound and sight of a sick pet is understandably worrying, and it can be easy to panic. Vomiting always seems like one of the worst parts of your beloved animal being unwell, particularly as your pet is unable to tell you exactly what is going on with him. Knowing what to do in this situation can help keep you calm and ensure that your pet gets the help he needs to feel well once more.

sick cat

What causes a pet to vomit?

Vomiting is rarely a specific sign of a specific problem. From something he has eaten disagreeing with his stomach to a chronic underlying health condition that causes your pet to be sick, vomiting can occur for a wide variety of reasons. Many vomiting episodes happen as one-offs, and these are often due to your pet having eaten something that they shouldn’t, or due to stress or anxiety and start to yelp.

However, in some circumstances, an animal may suffer from chronic vomiting. This refers to repeated episodes, lasting more than a few days. In this instance, the vomiting is almost certainly the result of an ongoing health problem that requires professional veterinary attention.

Some of the most common causes of pet vomiting include:

  • Dietary intolerances
  • Constipation or irregular bowel movement
  • Motion sickness
  • Parasite infestation
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Swallowing/eating a foreign body
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Side effects to prescribed medications
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney and/or liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Infections
  • Some types of cancer
  • Hairballs

Vomiting and hairballs

Hairballs are most commonly associated with cats and are one of the primary causes of feline vomiting. Hairballs occur as a result of your cat’s fastidious grooming routine, and so the more that your cat grooms herself, the more likely she is to suffer with them.

As your furry friend grooms herself, she uses her tongue to clean, smooth and straighten her fur. Each cat’s tongue is covered in microscopic needles and the hair gets caught on these, where it inevitably gets swallowed. Most of this hair passes through the digestive system with no problem. However, some damp hair can remain behind in the stomach. Over time, this accumulates into a larger wet clump known as a hairball.

Eventually, these hairballs need to be expelled from your cat’s body. As they can’t pass through the digestive tract, your cat will instead get rid of them by vomiting them out.

Hairballs can be quite hard work to pass, so your cat may have to retch and vomit quite hard multiple times to sufficiently clear them. Once out, the hairballs looks like a long tube of hair, rather than a spherical shape. If your cat is vomiting persistently and producing hairballs, then this is not a huge cause for concern.

When to seek a veterinarian if your pet is vomiting

Vomiting is one of the most common reasons for seeking veterinary assistance. In instances where there is just one or two short episodes of vomiting, and the vomit looks normal, there is probably no cause for urgency.

However, you should still keep a close eye on your pet to check that there are no other worrying symptoms, and the vomiting doesn’t persist. If you spot blood or anything unusual in your pet’s vomit, you should seek immediate veterinary advice, so your animal can be properly examined and checked for any serious medical conditions.

If your pet is repeatedly vomiting in a short space of time, you should contact Dr. Alcorn at Care Animal Hospital immediately. Animals who vomit frequently are at risk of becoming very ill very quickly as a result of the vomiting, which is in addition to whatever is causing him to vomit in the first place. This is because vomiting can cause your pet to become dehydrated, their stomach lining and esophagus can become inflamed causing severe pain, stomach acid can erode your pet’s teeth, and the entire process puts a great deal of strain on your pet’s body.

If your pet is vomiting repeatedly, and it is not due to trying to pass a hairball, then you should seek professional advice immediately. Don’t delay, call Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, CA immediately at 951-676-4690 to check whether your pet needs medical attention.