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Treatment and Prognosis for Vomiting in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015

Goals of Treating Vomiting

Effective treatment of recurrent vomiting in dogs involves identifying and correcting the initiating cause of the problem, and then providing the fluids, electrolytes and medications necessary to stop the cycle of vomiting and treat any related medical conditions, such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. The goals of treating vomiting also include the provision of nurturing supportive care.

Treatment Options for Vomiting

When a dog has been vomiting for several days, has been vomiting with blood coming up (hematemesis) or has been vomiting and also has bloody or mucoid diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, depression, abdominal pain, fever or confusion, a trip to the veterinarian certainly is warranted. If a dog is unable to hold down even small amounts of food or water without “throwing up,” something is seriously wrong. The animal could be suffering from poisoning, an intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, bloat/gastric dilatation and volvulus, kidney or liver failure or some infectious disease such as parvovirus. All of these conditions require immediate treatment, before they become life-threatening to the dog.

Many authorities recommend that dogs with recurrent or frequent vomiting be taken off food for a short period of time. The dog’s veterinarian is the best one to outline the precise course of treatment. Withholding food is called “NPO,” or “nothing per os” (nothing by mouth). The purpose of withholding food is to let the dog’s gastrointestinal tract rest. The next step in treatment normally is to provide small sips of water or maybe ice cubes until the cause of the vomiting is determined. Intravenous or subcutaneous fluids may be administered if the dog is severely dehydrated and has to be hospitalized. Electrolytic fluids can be administered if the dog has been diagnosed with an electrolyte imbalance.

Veterinarians will use physical examinations and blood and other tests to try to determine the cause of the vomiting and assess the dog’s hydration and electrolyte status. If these methods don’t point toward a primary cause of the vomiting, more specific tests will be necessary. These may include radiographs (X-rays) and abdominal ultrasound, which might uncover any physiological deformities in the dog’s digestive tract which could be the cause of its vomiting. Drugs that reduce vomiting (antiemetics) can be prescribed to give the dog’s digestive tract time to heal. If a food allergy is suspected as the cause of vomiting, the veterinarian may recommend a hypoallergenic diet. Biopsies of stomach and intestinal tissues may be needed to diagnose bacterial or viral infections that are contributing to the dog’s vomiting.

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