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When to worry about a tummy upset

Tummy troubles in pets are one of the most common reasons owners contact a vet. The clinical signs of a gastric upset can include vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, inappetence and lethargy.

These symptoms can occur for a variety of reasons 

  • A sudden change in diet
  • Eating something that does not agree with them
  • Eating mouldy food
  • Ingestion of a foreign body that could be causing a blockage
  • A virus  
  • A bacterial infection  
  • Accidentally eating something toxic or poisonous  
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Trauma to the abdomen
  • Pancreatitis
  • Reaction to medication  

Some symptoms can be managed at home but if your pet is very young or very old or has any of the above symptoms along with a distended abdomen or seems very lethargic then we would always recommend contacting a vet straight away. 

The general advice for adult cats and dogs with diarrhoea is to feed bland food such as boiled chicken breast or white fish with rice or pasta, in small meals throughout the day. Little and often keeps the intestines moving and should help the faeces firm up more quickly. 

For vomiting pets try withholding food for 24 hours from their last meal then reintroduce food as you would for diarrhoea; bland food, little and often. If your pet seems to be improving, then think about slowly weaning them back onto their own food after 2 - 3 days. In all cases ensure your pet has access to fresh water. 

The most common poisons for pets are:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes/raisins
  • Onions/garlic
  • Xylitol (found in sugar free gum and sweets)
  • Ibuprofen for dogs and paracetamol for cats
  • Daffodil, Crocus and Bluebells (bulbs, leaves and flowers)
  • Lilies for cats

If you think your pet may have eaten something poisonous, whether or not they develop a tummy upset, time is of the essence so act quickly and call your vet for advice.

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