Insider Tips: Preventing Your Pet from Getting a Holiday Stomach (or More) (12/19/23)

By: Lonnie M. Pitke, DVM ~ Cape Small Animal Clinic

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

This holiday season, it’s important to be aware of potential gastrointestinal (GI) issues that can affect our beloved pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), stomach upset is the third most common cause of veterinary visits. With tempting foods and increased stress levels during this time, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs that could indicate GI distress in our furry friends.

Call us if you notice any of these symptoms:

• Vomiting or diarrhea (may contain blood or mucus)

• Weight loss

• Less appetite than usual or absent altogether

• Fever

Dehydration or not drinking water

• Abdominal pain or distension

Some of the most common causes are food-related, stress-related, and intestinal obstructions.

Food-related digestive problems in pets often stem from their curious nature, which causes them to eat things they shouldn’t—whether it’s table scraps or unexpected snacks on the sidewalk. Sudden changes in your pet’s diet can also cause digestive upset. To make this transition easier, we recommend introducing the new food slowly over one to two weeks, allowing your pet to adjust.

Stress can also be a factor in your pet’s upset stomach. Travel, boarding, or having more guests in their home – all of these can affect your pet’s daily routine, increasing stress levels.

Intentional obstructions are obstructions, also called foreign bodies, that prevent food from passing through the digestive tract. While some obstructions can be caused by factors such as hernias or cancer, most are caused by pets that are unable to eat. Dogs will eat many things: small toys, sticks, rocks, and even socks or blankets. Intestinal obstructions can be very serious and can quickly become fatal. Symptoms may include severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and possible intestinal damage. Call us right away to find out if the situation is an emergency or if we need to schedule an exam and x-rays. Often and unfortunately, surgery may be necessary to remove some objects.

In the end, it’s best to avoid table scraps and do your best to reduce stress for your pet now and especially during the holiday season.

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