Vomiting is one of the most common clinical signs seen in pets. It is described as a sudden, spontaneous, involuntary, forceful expulsion of ingested or swallowed contents from the stomach through the mouth (very rarely nose). It is very common for pets to vomit from time to time. It could be caused due to eating too fast, overeating, physical activity soon after eating.
Vomiting can be caused by numerous factors such as food allergy, ingesting raw, uncooked, stale food, scavenging, infections such as bacterial, viral and fungal, reactions to known medications, imbalances, intestinal conditions, kidney and liver diseases, poisoning.
Vomiting always results in stomach upsets (due to a cat’s sensitive digestive system) and loss of fluids (sometimes extreme losses can occur). This causes dehydration, weakness, fever, weight loss, immunity imbalances and can also make the pet susceptible to other secondary diseases.
A one time episode is very normal. If vomiting is seen in multiple episodes, this could be an indicator of an underlying disease or condition. It can be a sign of a mild infection or a more severe disease.
Acute stage is when vomiting is seen for a few days up-to a week. Chronic vomiting is a more persistent form, seen for over a week. Vomiting with diarrhea is called gastroenteritis.
If you observe your cat vomiting even on an empty stomach and there is a presence of bile (yellow liquid), please contact your veterinarian immediately.
There are numerous factors which causes vomiting. They are:
› Bacterial infections such as Campylobacteriosis, Salmonellosis, Helicobacteriosis
› Fungal infections such as Aspergillosis, Pneumocystosis, Pythiosis
› Parasitic infections such as Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms, Stomachworms, Giardiasis
› Food allergy resulting from intestinal reactions such as human foods
› Reactions to known drugs and medications and overdoses
› Poisoning associated with known chemicals, disinfectants, pesticides, insecticides,
› Environmental causes
› Ingesting contaminated water, food
› Eating unknown plants
› Diseases such as Addison’s disease, Amyloidosis, Hypokalemia, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Otitis Externa, Otitis Interna & Otitis Media,
› Kidney and Liver diseases
› Viral infections such as Feline Panleukopenia (FPL), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Acute vomiting progresses into chronic vomiting in some of the severe diseases.
Clinical Signs & Symptoms
Common symptoms seen are:
› Hematemesis (Vomiting Blood)
› Vomiting with bile
› Pyrexia (Fever)
› weight Loss
› Diarrhea (Loose stools)
› Anorexia (Loss of Appetite)
› Abdominal Pain
› Hematochezia (Blood in stool)
› Recurrent vomiting (multiple times a day)
Acute vomiting is not a disease but a symptoms seen in known conditions. Diagnosis can be tricky, however prompt and correct diagnosis needs to be established to identify the cause.
Veterinarians will require a complete history of your cat which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done with a combination of tests. These include routine lab examinations and special tests. They are:
› Physical examination
› Complete Blood Count (CBC)
› Biochemical profile
› Fecal Examination (looking for presence of parasites)
› Abdominal Radiograph (X-rays)
Once the underlying cause is identified further teats may be recommended.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Sometimes mild vomiting can resolve without medications. Common treatments include:
› IV Fluids
› Fluid therapy
› Antibiotic medications
› Medications to stop vomiting
› Prescription diets
› Dietary changes (warm, moist, non chew-able food should be given. Avoid meat, uncooked food, anything chew-able)
Vomiting can be a result of eating food too fast, overeating, physical activity immediately after eating, It can be a clinical sign of a mild infection or a severe disease. This cannot be prevented.
Home care should aim at improving the condition. Treatments can take a few days to weeks. Most pets show signs of recovery within 3 to 5 days. If you observe any behavioral changes, or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian.
› It is mandatory to provide a stress-free environment for your cat. Keep water and food bowls within reach. Avoid physical activity. Keep your cats away from any noise and commotions.
› You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicine as directed by your veterinarian.
› Do NOT travel with your cat.
› Do NOT allow your cat to roam freely. They like to scavenge especially from garbage bins, leftover food in kitchen.
› Monitor and administer all medications as directed by your veterinarian and complete the dosage.
› Humans, especially children, pregnant women and ones handling infected pets need to exercise caution. Wear gloves when dealing with a pet, cleaning the litter boxes, disposing any and all contaminated materials, garbage disposals etc. A thorough wash of hands is advised. Practice hygiene.
› Dietary changes to warm, moist food. Avoid feeding meat, uncooked foods, chew-able foods.
› De-worming medications will be given if resulting from parasitic infections.