There are few worse sounds to wake up to than your pet getting ready to toss his or her cookies on your bed. However, pets experience all sorts of tummy trouble, and for many different reasons. If your furry family friend is plagued by gastrointestinal issues, it can be a tough problem to get a handle on.
Signs of Tummy Trouble
That rumble in your pet’s belly might just be digestion, but it could also be a sign of trouble on the horizon. Pets can experience acute (sudden) gastrointestinal issues or more chronic problems. There are several indications that your four-legged family member may need to be examined.
Signs of a gastrointestinal issue can include:
- Diarrhea or soft stools
- Weight loss
- Frequent belching
- Abdominal enlargement
- Blood in stools
Gastrointestinal issues are often no big deal, but they can certainly be an emergency. Do not delay having your pet seen if vomiting or diarrhea episodes continue, your pet is not eating, if he or she seems to be in pain, or if there is unproductive retching. It is always better to err on the side of caution if you feel something is not right.
Pet Gastroenterology Basics
Pet gastroenterology can cover a wide variety of issues. Anything that affects the esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, or intestines can fall into this category. Some of the more common causes for tummy trouble in our pets include:
- Foreign bodies
- Motility problems
- Malabsorption disorders
- Pancreatic issues
- Bile duct/gallbladder problems
- Food allergies/sensitivities
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Because such a wide variety of issues can present very similarly, diagnostic testing is an important component of pet gastroenterology. Arriving at a correct diagnosis ensures the best possible treatment outcomes.
If your pet is experiencing gastrointestinal trouble, we may recommend fecal testing, blood testing, radiographs, ultrasound, endoscopy, and/or food trials to get to the bottom of things. While many problems can be diagnosed quickly, some problems need to be diagnosed by excluding all other possibilities, which can be a long road.
Sometimes patients can be treated on an outpatient basis with oral medications and special diet. There are situations, however, when hospitalization is necessary. This is particularly true if there is a concern for infection, dehydration, shock, or electrolyte disturbances.
Gastroenterology in pets is one of the more common things that we do. Thankfully, most times we are able to help. That makes for happy critters and even happier owners. Here’s to no more waking up to vomit!