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Vomiting & Diarrhea

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Determining the cause of vomiting and diarrhea can be difficult. A typical work-up includes bloodwork to rule out metabolic causes and an analysis of a stool sample for parasites. Imaging, such as X-rays or an ultrasound of the abdomen, are often necessary as well. There are also newer PCR tests that can detect infectious causes of diarrhea. How chronic the vomiting and diarrhea is may determine how many diagnostics are necessary. Acute, short bouts of vomiting or diarrhea may respond more readily to empirical therapy, while chronic vomiting, diarrhea or weight loss often require more diagnostics.


The treatment recommended by your vet will vary depending on how sick your pet is and what the likely cause of the illness is. Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration and some pets need to be hospitalized for IV fluids and more intensive supportive care. Less severely affected pets may respond to anti-nausea medications, subcutaneous fluids, oral antibiotics and/or a bland diet.


If your pet is vomiting:

  • Do not offer any food for 24 hours

  • Do not allow your pet to ingest any plant material (like grass)

  • Monitor your pet carefully for signs of dehydration or lethargy

  • After 24 hours, if your pet has not vomited, offer a small amount of a bland food; continue to offer small meals throughout the day

  • If your pet continues to vomit, contact us.

  • Transition back to your pet’s normal food 2-3 days after the vomiting has stopped

If your pet is having diarrhea but not vomiting:

  • Do not withhold food

  • Offer a bland diet

  • Transition back to your pet’s normal food 2-3 days after the diarrhea has stopped

Examples of bland food for dogs:

  • Boiled white rice and low-fat cottage cheese in a 1:1 ratio

  • Boiled white rice and boiled chicken in a 1:1 ratio

  • Prescription diets such as i/d (available from your vet)


Examples of bland food for cats:

  • Meat-flavored baby food (not containing onions)

  • Boiled chicken

  • Prescription diets such as i/d (available from your vet)


Vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats can be caused by a variety of conditions. In general, we can break down the causes into two main categories: problems originating from within the gastrointestinal tract, and problems arising outside of the GI tract.

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