Dog vomiting and diarrhea are probably the commonest symptoms that appear in dogs. The presence of these symptoms should not cause undue alarm, for their causes are generally very simple and treatment is a matter of routine. However, it must be remembered that they may also be indications of very serious diseases, fatal to the animal if neglected. Therefore, if first-aid measures fail to yield definite improvement within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, it is imperative that the animal be given professional attention. Of special significance is the appearance of blood either in the matter vomited or in the stool. If this should occur it is safer to consider the matter a medical emergency and not to attempt any home treatment.
At the first sign of either vomiting or diarrhea, water and meat or dog food should be eliminated temporarily from the diet. If the animal appears desperately thirsty, the thirst should be quenched with milk. If the animal refuses the milk and insists on water, the most that can be done is to allow the animal to lick an ice cube for a couple of minutes and then to remove it. The precaution of not feeding water is taken because water will serve only to aggravate the condition. So careful must the owner be in this regard that it is even advisable to keep the bathroom bowl covered, for in this condition animals have been known to get water in this manner and thereby completely disrupt a course of treatment that otherwise would have been effective.
Dog vomiting and diarrhea ordinarily indicate that the lining membranes of the stomach and intestine are inflamed. Usually, the more frequent the eliminations, the more serious is the degree of inflammation. The appearance of blood will indicate a more serious attack.
When the lining membranes of the stomach and intestine are inflamed, it is very likely that this is accompanied by severe abdominal pain. In the same way that you would not feel happy about eating a steak if you had a terrific stomach ache, the dog cannot be expected to eat heavy food when it is similarly affected. Only soft, soothing food should be given to the ailing animal. Milk, a cereal mixture such as milk and pablum, and baby foods or meat broth mixed with cooked rice are recommended. Meat in the baby-food form is not harmful because these foods are especially prepared to be very easy to digest. In cases where an animal is known to be unable to digest milk or otherwise shows an intolerance to it, milk should naturally be avoided. Boston Terriers very commonly show this intolerance to milk by vomiting it whenever it is fed. Where this intolerance occurs, the pablum made into a thick cereal with water will usually be effective. Water incorporated into a cereal will not be harmful in this condition.
Quite often the vomiting disappears within twenty-four hours and the diarrhea will persist. As the condition improves larger quantities of cooked rice may be added to the diet because this has a salutary binding effect.
If the symptoms disappear within one or two days, the diet should be gradually returned to normal over a period of several days. If the symptoms are not relieved in the specified time, if they recur, or if at any time the animal should show extreme distress, a veterinarian should be consulted. If the symptoms show considerable relief but do not entirely disappear in a couple of days, it is safe to continue the above-mentioned mode of treatment until the symptoms are no longer present. In the average case this might take anywhere from three days to two weeks.
Vomiting and diarrhea are due to causes almost too numerous to mention. Most of the time they are the result of a simple stomach upset. But vomiting and diarrhea may also be symptoms of other diseases, some of them quite serious ones. In such cases, the above treatment will give at best only temporary relief, and the animal will need veterinary attention. Another obvious cause of dog vomiting is the swallowing of some foreign body such as a stone, needle, bone, or some other object. In such instances routine home treatment is useless. All cases of swallowing foreign bodies are emergencies and should be called to the veterinarian's attention immediately. Any appreciable delay might result in the death of the animal. If the swallowing of some poison is suspected, the same advice applies.
Many helpful medications could have been mentioned in our discussion of treatment. However, if the condition of the animal is serious enough to require medication, it is no longer a problem for home treatment but one for the veterinarian.
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