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Gastroenteritis in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Acute vomiting and diarrhea are characterized by a sudden onset and short duration of less than two to three weeks. Acute vomiting, a reflex act that results in the forceful ejection of gastric (stomach) and/or duodenal (intestinal) contents through the mouth, and diarrhea, an increase in fecal water content with an accompanying increase in the frequency, fluidity, or volume of bowel movements, are both extremely common in the dog.

An occasional bout of vomiting and diarrhea is quite common in dogs however, severe, acute vomiting and diarrhea is not normal, and can be associated with life threatening illnesses. It can cause extreme fluid loss, acid-base imbalance, and electrolyte disturbance.

What To Watch For

  • A continuation or worsening of signs (greater than several days)
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Listlessness
  • The presence of blood in the stool or vomit.

    General Causes

  • Dietary indiscretion – eating inappropriate food/material
  • Dietary intolerance
  • Infectious agents – bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic
  • Drugs and toxins
  • Obstruction/blockage – intussusception, which is telescoping of the bowel into itself; masses/tumors; foreign bodies        
  • Metabolic disorders – kidney and liver disease, diabetes mellitus, hypoadrenocorticism
  • Abdominal disorders – pancreatitis, peritonitis, pyometra, prostatitis, sepsis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Miscellaneous – gastroduodenal ulcers, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, stress, gastrointestinal lymphosarcoma (cancer)

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