Vomiting in pets - what to do

As owners you can sense when your pet is feeling unwell and witnessing them vomit is an unpleasant experience. Seeing their sad face and hunched over posture can be a worry, but how do you know when it’s an indication of something serious?

Vomiting is a common occurrence in cats and dogs, and the good news is that most of the time the sickness will pass over the course of 24 hours without any medical treatment. However, occasionally it can be the start of something more dangerous, depending on the situation.

Our experienced team at Clent Hills Vets in have put together a helpful guide on this topic, highlighting some of the common reasons for vomiting, how to care for your pet when they are feeling sick and when you need to contact the vet.

Contact us if your pet is unwell

The dangers of everyday items

Young animals are the number one culprit for sicky symptoms, and this is because their curious behaviour means they like to chew everything they can get their paws on.

According to Vet Alun Edwards, common items that puppies and kittens chew and sometimes swallow include:

  • Toys
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Sticks
  • Blankets
  • String or ribbon
  • Hairbands
  • Underwear
  • Items from the rubbish bin

Luckily, in most cases this activity doesn’t cause damage, but sometimes these ‘foreign bodies’ can aggravate the digestive system, or even cause toxicity or an obstruction. Unsurprisingly, one of the first symptoms of stomach irritation is vomiting, and this happens as the body tries to reject and push out the unfamiliar substance or item.

Common causes of vomiting

Another common reason for your cat or dog vomiting may be that they are eating their food so quickly that they bring it back up undigested. This is regurgitation rather than true vomiting and is often behavioural and most prevalent in puppies. Sometimes cats will regurgitate to bring up hairballs. Neither of these symptoms are serious unless they become frequent; please call our Kidderminster Road team on 01527 889810 if you suspect your pet is regurgitating and we will happily advise you on how best to prevent it.

Vomiting can also be a sign of a serious underlying condition such as kidney disease or pancreatitis, so further investigations may be needed. Other reasons your pet may be vomiting include:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Food allergies
  • Travel sickness
  • Worms
  • A change in diet
  • A reaction to a medication
  • An infectious disease
  • Ingesting something poisonous

When to call the vets if your pet has vomited

Alun explains that for most one-off cases of vomiting, emergency veterinary treatment is not required, and the symptoms will pass through in a few hours. There are situations that warrant emergency help and can be serious if left untreated. You should call us immediately if your pet experiences any of the following,

  • Vomiting often and frequently, for example, more than once in 24 hours
  • Unproductive vomiting - where nothing comes up or frequent retching
  • Your pet is vomiting and is very young or very old and therefore more vulnerable
  • Your pet has other serious diagnosed conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease
  • Your pet has a bloated and/or tender tummy
  • The vomit is a red/brown colour or contains specks of red, indicating blood
  • Your female dog is vomiting and is pregnant and/or has vaginal discharge
  • The vomiting is accompanied by diarrhoea
  • Your pet is wobbly or unsteady on its feet
  • Your pet collapses or seizures

It is important to stress that if you think your pet has eaten something poisonous or toxic, even if they have not vomited, do not wait until your pet shows symptoms, call us immediately on 01527 889810.

See our emergency care details

How to care for your pet when they are sick

If your pet has been or is about to be sick, they will likely feel nauseous. Signs may include:

  • Salivating or dribbling
  • Licking lips
  • Shying away from food
  • A hunched posture
  • Restlessness and pacing around (dogs)
  • Sitting still with eyes closed or half closed (cats)
  • Being ‘clingy’ and not wanting to leave your side
  • Hiding away
  • Eating grass (dogs)

Here are some tips on how to best care for your pet if you notice these signs:

  • Ensure they have calm, safe, quiet surroundings so they can rest
  • Keep warm and comfortable
  • Offer them small amounts of fresh drinking water but do not force them to eat or drink
  • Do not walk or exercise them for 24 hours except to go to the toilet
  • If vomiting has stopped and they seem brighter it is safe to offer them a small amount of bland food such as plain boiled chicken, however it is best to call us first for feeding advice

If you are unsure of what to do if your pet is vomiting and unwell, please call the Clent Hills' team on 01527 889810 and we will advise you on the best course of action.