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This is Garbage Gut

EdGrrr pilfers a cantalope rind

By Kim Everson, DVM

It may seem like a matter of semantics but vomiting and diarrhea are not normal in a dog. They may be common (depending on the dog), but they are not a normal and simply over-lookable occurrence.

Vomiting and diarrhea are common and vague symptoms of illness in dogs (and cats!). Sometimes, like in people, these problems are mild and self-limiting. The causes of innocent short term GI upset range from non-threatening viruses to eating something that “disagrees” with the pet. On the other hand, vomiting and diarrhea can also signal more serious problems such parasite infestation, pain, infection, organ failure, intestinal blockage and cancer!

The good news is that these latter causes are far less common than the former! Dogs, especially those that enjoy moderate levels of freedom in their day-to-day activities, very frequently ingest things that make them barf. To most dogs, edible is an all encompassing descriptive term that includes decomposing animals, poop from just about any other living thing, and refuse–among other things.

Many times, “dietary indiscretion” results in a short bout of decreased appetite, soft stool, and possibly vomiting. But sometimes “garbage gut” produces such severe gastrointestinal discomfort that dogs require veterinary intervention and medications. In the worst case scenarios, a dog’s dining habits may result in life threatening pancreatitis or surgery to remove a foreign body!

What do you do if your dog starts having soft stools, vomits or rejects his dog food? You know your dog best. I find that owners are often a good judge of the severity of their pet’s illness (denial is, of course, a powerful and detrimental part of medical cases and can unfortunately delay treatment of serious problems). If you are not sure, it’s never a bad idea to call your veterinarian and describe your dog’s symptoms.

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