Around the holidays, probably one of the most common issues seen in the veterinary clinic is the development of digestive upset in dogs and cats, usually vomiting and/or diarrhea. This is especially common this time of year, when animals often have access to fatty holiday meals and/or treats.
While most cases of digestive upset can be self-limiting (with a brief fast and feeding a bland hamburger and rice or 50/50 white meat turkey/sweet potato diet), some pets will require more specific medications. This is especially true if diarrhea and/or vomiting is severe or prolonged, and/or if this is accompanied by a decrease in thirst or appetite. If there are any questions, a veterinary exam and evaluation will always be recommended.
There are many possible causes of diarrhea or vomiting, from dietary indiscretion/hypersensitivity, food allergies, intestinal parasites, inflammation of the liver or pancreas, as well as a chronic disease called inflammatory bowel disease. A full medical evaluation can help sort out these vast causes. There are many effective over-the-counter agents that can help soothe an irritated or inflamed digestive tract.
I have always found the mild herb slippery elm (available from the health food store) quite effective in helping soothe an irritated or inflamed digestive tract, and it often provides quite effective symptomatic relief for diarrhea. If a pet is holding some food or water down, the antacid Pepcid AC (famotidine) can be used at a dose of one half mg per pound twice daily in either the dog or cat.
Probiotics such as Fast Balance G.I. and/or FortiFlora can help restore healthy flora to the digestive tract, and shorten the course of digestive upset in our pets. I am also a big fan of incorporating digestive enzymes, such as NaturVet Digestive Enzymes to meals, not only in the short term, but as long-term preventative for dogs prone to digestive upset. Some pets will need prescription medications to calm an irritated digestive tract, including the anti-nausea drug Cerenia, as well as the intestinal antibiotic known as metronidazole. If there is every any question about a pet’s hydration or clinical status, a veterinary exam and evaluation is always recommended.