Time to talk about Tummies

It’s hard to believe we’ve passed the half way mark of 2019 already! Time flies when you’re having fun, that’s for sure!

This month we’re going to tackle the topic of gastrointestinal tract diseases. If you’ve been reading our previous years blogs, you’ll see that a couple years ago we did a story on one of our nurses dog’s Willis, who is a garbage guts and needed emergency surgery to remove foreign objects in his stomach that he thought were delicious to eat! This time, we are going to look at the different types of conditions that can make our pet’s stomachs and intestinal tracts upset. There are many different disorders that can affect our furry friends, so grab yourself a hot Milo and get comfy!

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and diseases affect our pet's stomach and intestines, resulting in pain and other problems. The first signs you’ll see from them include

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea or Constipation
  • Regurgitation
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Straining to defecate

As you are aware, the signs above can be symptoms for many other diseases and health conditions, so it’s definitely a good idea to make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable vets if you’re concerned for your fur-child!

When you bring your pet in, the vet will perform a thorough examination. They will have feel of their tummies and possibly of their bottoms (to feel if their poo is hard or if they can feel anything unusual). Depending on what the initial examination reveals, additional tests might be needed to determine the cause of the problem. These might include:

  • Sending away a blood test to look for abnormalities or if there is any bacteria/viruses involved
  • Performing an x‑ray or ultrasound to look for foreign objects your beloved pet may have swallowed
  • Using an endoscope to perform an internal examination of the stomach (which will require an anaesthetic)

If your pet is really unwell and is dehydrated (due to diarrhoea, vomiting and/or not drinking), they may need to stay in hospital on a drip to help make them feel better. This way, our lovely team of vets and nurses can give those injections of medications to help relieve their pain and also to help treat the cause of their upset tummies -let’s be honest: the last thing they would want would be to swallow tablets when they are feeling sick!

As we said before, there are many different gastrointestinal diseases and disorders that can be the reason our pooches (and kitties!) feel unwell. Some of the conditions include:

  • Colitis - An inflammation of the membrane lining the colon (large intestine).
  • Constipation - Usually caused by insufficient fibre and water intake, eating hair, bones or other foreign objects. It can also be due to aging, tumors, trauma or fractures, prostate disease, spinal cord disease, metabolic or endocrine disorders and debilitation.
  • Gastroenteritis - Inflammation or infection of the gastrointestinal tract, primarily the stomach and intestines. Causes may include eating rotten or spoiled food, swallowing foreign objects, eating toxic plants, internal parasites, stress, and food allergies
  • Pancreatitis - An inflammation or infection of the pancreas (a gland that is located behind the stomach). Origins are frequently unknown. Potential causes are feeding foods high in fat or rich table foods, infections, disease or trauma. Have a read of our pancreatitis handout here!
  • Diarrhoea – Yes, this was in the symptom list! But it’s actually a condition that is caused by infections, internal parasites, stress, and a change in pet food, table scraps or rich snacks, eating spoiled food from the garbage and body organ dysfunction.

We can sense by now your mind might be a slight overdrive with all this information about vomiting and poo! The great thing about this all is that if treatment is started early, your pet should be able to make a full recovery after receiving treatment. And the easiest way to prevent it from happening is to monitor what your furry friends eat and to give them a balanced, high quality dry food and make sure they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t! But also make sure they are kept up to date with their worming and keep an eye out for any of the symptoms we have spoken about. That way their tummies will be feeling happy and healthy!