Gastroenteritis

gastro-0Gastroenteritis is defined as an inflammation of the stomach and/or intestines.  The animal often shows signs of vomiting and/or diarrhoea, lethargy and reluctance to eat. There are many different causes of gastroenteritis.  A few of the common causes:

  • Sudden change in diet
  • Worms
  • Bacteria
  • Stress
  • Viruses
  • Inflammation or obstruction of the bowel

Dehydration is a major concern for animals with gastroenteritis.  Drugs are administered to stop the vomiting and diarrhoea and tests (such as blood tests, faecal float/smear, radiographs, and ultrasound) are performed to rule out other serious diseases which cause the same signs. .

Treatment for Gastroenteritis

Fluid therapy is required to restore hydration and electrolyte balances as well as to ‘rest’ the gastrointestinal tract until the inflammation subsides.  Therefore a period of nothing by mouth’ is needed.

Drugs to stop vomiting and diarrhoea may or may not be administered depending on the diagnosis.  Other drugs may be given if they are indicated by the clinical signs. These may include antibiotics, drugs for pain relief or to reduce inflammation, and drugs to modify the movement of the intestines..

Home care after treatment for Gastroenteritis

gastro-1Once your pet is able to go home it is recommended a diet of bland food is given for several days.  A bland diet includes boiled chicken and rice or a commercial low fat diet.  Slowly reintroduce the animal’s normal diet after 3-4 days.  Mix the animal’s normal food with the low fat food with increasing ratios: give the low fat food with a small amount of normal food on the first day, gradually changing it until more normal food is given than low fat food.

Gastroenteritis symptoms

  1. Behaviour/Character change, for example depression or lethargy
  2. Gums should remain pink
  3. Colour and texture of bowel movements
  4. Amount and frequency of vomiting

If you see bloody or black diarrhoea, or continuous vomiting, please have your pet re-evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.

Written by Dr Caitlin Logan 

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