The Rumble Down Under: Navigating Pet Tummy Trouble

pet tummy troublesIt’s bound to happen sooner or later: Almost every pet owner, at some point, is faced with caring for a pet whose digestive system is not functioning optimally. Sometimes an upset belly is no big deal, but other times it can be serious business. How is an animal lover to know when to worry?
Beverly Hills Animal Hospital wants you to know when all your furry friend needs is a little TLC and when pet tummy trouble needs attention ASAP.

The Science Behind Pet Tummy Trouble

Pet tummy trouble can manifest in many ways. Be it decreased appetite, vomiting, flatulence, or diarrhea, the culprit behind the problem results in some type of abnormal motility in the digestive tract.

When a pet ingests food, it travels down the esophagus and into the stomach. There it undergoes digestion, moves into the small intestine, and then large intestine where nutrients and water are absorbed. The leftovers are excreted as feces.

When the system isn’t working well, chaos can ensue. Normal forward motility may be disrupted by things such as:

  • Imbalance of normal gut flora (bacteria)
  • Viral infection
  • Physical obstruction by a foreign object
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Systemic disease
  • Toxin ingestion
  • Food intolerance
  • Stress or other physiological disturbances
  • Allergic reaction

Many different causes of digestive upset may appear similarly, making it important to be aware of what’s happening with your pet. A little stress-induced diarrhea may resolve on its own, but a parvovirus infection could be deadly if not treated.

When You Need to Worry

So, when should you call us, and when is it safe to wait and see? Signs that pet tummy trouble needs addressed as soon as possible include:

  • Vomiting more than twice in a 24 hour period
  • Two or more bouts of diarrhea in a 24 hour period
  • Refusing to eat for more than 24 hours
  • Inability to keep food or water down
  • Blood in the stool or vomit
  • Repeated, unproductive attempts to vomit
  • Known toxin or foreign object ingestion
  • Declining overall condition
  • A very small, geriatric, pediatric, or otherwise ill pet
  • Persistence of clinical signs beyond 24 hours

If your pet is exhibiting any of the above, it is best that we take a look right away. In many cases, additional diagnostic testing is required to the bottom of what is causing the issue.

If symptoms are milder, stop giving treats and/or table food and offer only bland, easily digested foods in small amounts. An easy bland diet consists of a 50:50 mixture of lean, skinless boiled chicken breast and white rice.

Be sure to supervise your pet outdoors so that you know exactly what they are doing. It is also often helpful if you can collect a fecal sample for us to test. Be sure to wash your hands well after handling.

Never administer medications to your pet without our instruction. Doing so may be harmful to your pet, depending on the medication and circumstances. Always give us a call first.

Pet tummy trouble is never great for you or your pet, but with a little knowledge, you are better prepared to handle whatever may come your way. Never fear; we are here to help you navigate digestive distress should you need us.