Vomiting & Diarrhoea in puppies & kittens

Upset tummies can be common in puppies and kittens, but it's important to be able to understand the cause, and what to do to help them

Vomiting and diarrhoea are common problems in puppies and kittens. Very often, this is due to a change in diet following leaving their breeder or rescue centre to join your family.

However, while less common, there can be other, more serious reasons, that your puppy or kitten has an upset tummy and sickness, so make sure you rule them out first. Could your little one have eaten a foreign body like a sock or toy, have parasites or ingested a poison or toxin?

If your puppy or kitten is being sick or having diarrhoea, first of all think about the history of the last few days, have they eaten anything poisonous?

Are you missing any toys or objects they like to play with? Did you see them with anything toxic like chocolate or plant material in their mouth? Has your puppy or kitten lost their appetite? If any of these are relevant then you should contact your vet as soon as possible

If your puppy is still bright and well, but vomiting occasionally, withhold food for 6 hours. They can have access to water but little and often so they don't bring it back up again. After 6 hours they can be fed a bland diet, something like chicken and rice, small amounts fed little and often throughout the day. If vomiting continues or starts again then seek veterinary attention.

After 2-3 days on a bland diet their normal food can be reintroduced gradually. If your dog isn't vomiting but has diarrhoea then there is no need to starve them and a bland diet can be introduced little and often right away.

In kittens there also can be many reasons for vomiting and diarrhoea. It could be a diet change, parasites, infections, toxins or a medical condition. It’s important to think of the overall health of your cat as if they aren't eating or drinking they can become very ill.

Are they lethargic? As they are young and therefore small, they are likely to dehydrate quickly, so if any of these are likely then contact your vet as soon as possible.

If your kitten is well and bright and having occasional vomiting and diarrhoea then food can be withheld for up to 4 hours, but water can be available. After this time, a bland protein only diet can be introduced something like plain cooked chicken or white fish and fed little and often. You can also water down the food a little to help with hydration as cats a prone to not drinking. After 2-3 days their usual food can be gradually reintroduced. If your cat continues vomiting or it starts again then seek veterinary attention.

If your cat isn't vomiting but has diarrhoea then there is no need to withhold food.

It’s important to recognise if your pet is unwell, quiet, lethargic or showing signs or dehydration, if they are passing black tar-like faeces, vomiting blood or dark coffee-coloured vomit then you should contact your vet as soon as possible.

Also, for any young puppies and kittens that have had vomiting or diarrhoea longer than 24 hours, you should seek veterinary advice.

If your pet is unwell and you would like more advice please contact the Pet Health Helpline on 03333321947. Vet nurses are on hand to answer your queries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.