Inflammation of the stomach and intestines
Gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the stomach and intestines, can cause a variety of symptoms in pets. Signs may include:
- Vomiting: Can range from frequent or persistent episodes of vomiting to intermittent “on and off” instances
- Diarrhea or loose, watery stools
- Lethargy or decreased activity level
- Loss of appetite or decreased food intake
- Dehydration: If your pet is vomiting or having diarrhea, they may become dehydrated. Look for signs such as increased thirst or dry gums.
- Abdominal pain or discomfort: Signs include restlessness, pacing, or a hunched posture
- Fever: An elevated body temperature may indicate an underlying infection
Cats often show more subtle signs of pain or discomfort, such as:
- Increased hiding
- Reduced grooming
- Changes in vocalization
- Changes in litter box habits, including urinating or defecating outside the box
Gastroenteritis can be caused by various factors, including dietary indiscretion, infections, parasites, or inflammatory conditions. Other health conditions may share similar symptoms with Gastroenteritis, including Pancreatitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or a Foreign Body Ingestion.
If you notice any of these signs or if you have concerns about your pet's health, consult with a veterinarian.
When you visit your veterinarian for concerns related to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, the following may occur:
- Medical history: They will review your pet's medical history and discuss details about your pet's symptoms, duration and pattern of occurrence, and any potential triggers or dietary changes.
- Physical examination: The veterinarian will perform a thorough exam, checking for any abnormalities, particularly in the abdomen.
- Diagnostic testing: Diagnostic testing such as blood tests, fecal examination, and imaging (such as X-rays or ultrasound) may be recommended to evaluate the gastrointestinal tract and to rule out other underlying conditions such as foreign body ingestion. Advanced diagnostics may be discussed in cases of chronic or severe gastroenteritis.
- Treatment options: These can vary depending on the severity and underlying cause. It may involve fluid therapy to address dehydration, medications to control vomiting or diarrhea, supportive care to alleviate symptoms, and in severe cases, hospitalization with intravenous fluids and medications.
- Follow-up care: Your veterinarian will discuss a follow-up plan, which may involve diet change, additional tests, or adjustments to your pet’s daily routine.
Your veterinary healthcare team will partner with you to decide which treatment option is best for your pet's and your family’s specific condition and situation.
While it may not be possible to prevent all instances of gastroenteritis, there are proactive measures you can take to reduce the risk and protect your pet's digestive health. Here are some preventative measures you can implement at home:
- Provide a balanced and appropriate diet: Feed your pet a high-quality, balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your pet's specific requirements.
- Avoid sudden dietary changes: Gradually introduce any new type of food to minimize the risk of stomach upset.
- Avoid giving table scraps or inappropriate foods: Human food, especially spicy, fatty, or toxic foods, can contribute to gastroenteritis in pets. Stick to a diet suitable for pets and avoid sharing table scraps.
- Prevent access to harmful substances: Keep household chemicals, toxic foods and plants, and human medications out of your pet's reach to prevent accidental ingestion.
- Practice good hygiene: Regularly clean your pet's food and water bowls, provide fresh water, and practice proper waste disposal to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.
- Prevent parasites: Ensure your pet is on a regular parasite prevention program.
- Regular veterinary check-ups: Schedule routine check-ups to monitor your pet's overall health and detect any early signs of other conditions.
- Vaccinations: Keep your pet up to date on vaccinations. Certain viral infections, such as parvovirus in dogs or feline panleukopenia in cats, can cause severe gastroenteritis.
Consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice and guidance on preventing gastroenteritis in your pet. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your pet's specific needs and medical history.
Please note the information provided here is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your pet has gastroenteritis or any other health concerns, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.