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Why is my Cat Vomiting ? ( Part 2 )

Why is my Cat Vomiting ? ( Part 2 )



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Published by Roger Baillargeon

Ron Hines DVM PhD

Ron Hines DVM PhD

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Published by: Roger Baillargeon on Jan 27, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Chronic gastritis Certain cats, dogs and ferrets vomit frequently due to aninflamed stomach. Two personality types are involved. One is the animal thatregularly eats objectionable objects such as dirt, gravel, feces, leaves bark andwood. Sometimes this is a response to boredom. We call this condition pica and Icannot say what is going through these pet’s minds. The second group of pets ishigh-strung and somewhat neurotic. They are usually thin and often have dry haircoats. They often also have bouts of diarrhea and can never tolerate changes intheir diets. When I think of this condition I think of German shepherds andSiamese cats and ferrets of any age. The first group of pets has to be supervisedat all times. Some veterinarians give them mega doses of B-vitamins to try toalleviate pica. The second group is best fed a very bland monotonous diet. Thecorticosteroid drugs, prednisone or prednisolone also helps this second group.Gastric Dilatation-volvulus Deep-chested breeds of dogs will occasionally havetheir stomach flip over on itself causing a kink at either end. When this happens,the stomach quickly over inflates with gas. These dogs try to vomit but cannot.They appear quite ill because circulation to the stomach is cut off. This is alife and death emergency. The animal rapidly goes into shock and becomes toxic.Under light sedation I pass a stomach tube into their stomachs to relive thebloat. Then I open the dogs up, replace the stomach to its proper position and sewit to the abdominal wall so it the problem can not reoccur.Two other forms of knotting of the small intestine, volvulus and intussuceptionalso cause vomiting. Volvulus is a spinning round of the intestine causing it tokink. Intussusception is a folding in of the intestine upon itself. In both casesfood cannot pass and circulation to that portion of the bowel is interrupted. Somepeople call this a strangulated intestine. I correct both these problemssurgically.Tumors of the Stomach and IntestinesIn old debilitated dogs, cats and ferretsvomiting can be a sign of tumors of the stomach or small intestine. These tumorscan be large fleshy masses or subtle infiltration of the walls of the stomach andintestine with cancerous cells. I see more of these cases in cats and ferrets thanin dogs. Often I can feel the tumor through the abdominal wall (see article oncancer in pets in this series). If I am uncertain of the diagnosis I give thesepets oral barium sulfate (contrast medium) and then X-ray them periodically as thebarium moves through the stomach and intestines. The contrast medium outlines theshape of tumors that would normally be invisible on X-ray. I usually make thefinal diagnoses by surgically opening the animal and removing samples of thestomach and intestine to be sent to a pathologist. We call this procedure anexploratory laparotomy. These tumors are usually malignant and not good candidatesfor surgery. I try to convince the owners to euthanize these pets - it is theleast you can do to prevent suffering of an old friend.Metabolic Disorders:Kidney Disease And UremiaIn older pets with failing kidneys, toxic products buildup in the blood stream causing depression, nausea and vomission. Earlier inuremia, pets keep their bodies cleansed of waste products by drinking andurinating excessively. Although their kidneys have lost much of their ability toconcentrate wastes in the urine, the large quantities of dilute urine producedmaintain their metabolic equilibrium. Eventually excessive drinking no longersuffices and blood levels of urea and creatinine reach toxic amounts at whichvomiting occurs. At this stage of kidney disease, ulcers also form in the stomachand small intestine. Pets with this problem are noticeably ill. They are usuallydehydrated, thin and anemic. Administering large quantities of intravenous fluids(diuresis) correct the situation for a while but eventually these pets pass away.Kidney transplantation has been performed successfully in cats to cure uremia.These are cats that suffered acute kidneys loss due to consuming antifreeze. Theprocedure is much less successful in cases of chronic kidney disease where otherorgans have been damaged over time.Liver DiseaseLiver disease in dogs, cats and ferret is another cause of vomission.Liver damage can occurs as the result of eating poisonous products or through
bacterial and viral infection. These pets are often jaundiced or yellow. Stoolspecimens from these animals may be light in color or deep yellow. Blood enzymesassociated with liver damage are usually quite elevated. They may also showexcessive thirst, weight loss, prolonged bleeding time and fluid buildup in theirabdomens. Many of these pets respond to treatment and go on to live relativelynormal lives and when they do vomission ceases. Some need long-term specialtybland diets to lessen the workload of the liver.Heat StrokeHeat stroke is common in dogs with flat faces and longhaired breedsleft in the sun too long in the hot summer months. Over heating is extremelycommon in ferrets but not in cats. These pets are giddy. Their breath is rapid andshallow and they often vomit and produce diarrhea. They are depressed, have rapidheart rates and may collapse or have seizures. Their body temperatures can be ashigh as 109F. I lower their core body temperature as rapidly as I can by immersingthem in ice water.Adrenal Gland DiseaseHypoadrenocorticism or Addison’s disease is a condition inwhich the two adrenal glands produce insufficient cortisone. A common sign of thisdisease is vomiting – especially during times of stress. The most common form ofthis disease is probably a form of autoimmunity in which the body destroys its owntissue. Other signs of this disease are depression, diarrhea, hypoglycemia (lowblood sugar), low blood pressure, muscular weakness and an increase in white bloodcells called lymphocytes. Pets may drink excessively. It is a disease with veryvague symptoms, which is why it is frequently misdiagnosed. The problems tends towax and wane, appearing to be a digestive problem one time and a kidney problemanother. Dogs and cats with the problem are usually between 4-8 years old. No onebreed is more susceptible to the disease than another, but about 70% of pets withthis problem are female.Other Disease:Motion SicknessMany pets vomit when they are first taken on car rides. The bestway to prevent this is to not feed them before travel. Rolling a car window downslightly to encourage a dog or cat to look out also helps. After a number of carrides the condition usually ceases. When it continues to be a problem the pet canbe given Dramamine (dimenhydrinate at 2-4 mg/pound in dogs and 10 mg per cat orferret) before travel.Feline HyperthyroidismA common sign of elevated thyroid hormone in cats isvomission. The disease usually strikes middle-aged cats. These pets are thin andhyperactive. (see article on hyperthyroidism in cats in this series).PancreatitisSudden inflammation of the pancreas causes frequent vomiting. Dogspresented to me with this condition are usually middle-aged and plump. Schnauzersand standard dachshunds are the most common breeds that I see affected. Often theyhave recently eaten a very fatty meal. I have not encountered this disease in catsor ferrets. These dogs are depressed and their tummies are tight and painful. Theyare often dehydrated due to vomiting. Some have diarrhea. X-rays of these petshave a hazy “ground glass” appearance characteristic of this disease andperitonitis. When I draw blood from these dogs the plasma is often very milky incolor due to increased cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. High pancreaticenzymes are the signature test for this disease. These tests for pancreaticenzymes (amylase, lipase) are quite elevated and the dogs usually have elevatedkidney and liver tests as well as elevated white blood cell counts. Much of theelevation in test results is due to the profound dehydration that accompanies thisdisease.My first step in treating pancreatitis is to rehydrate the dogs with intravenousfluids, stop the vomission with medications and decrease pancreatic inflammationwith corticosteroids. When I have done this I withhold food and water for 3-4 daysto allow the pancreas to “rest”. Most veterinarians, including myself, place thesedogs on antibiotics of the penicillin/cephalosporin class. I cannot explain therational for this – we just do it. After 3-4 days I being them back on oral fluidsand foods very slowly. Relapses months and years later are common. The best way toprevent them is to feed these pets a high carbohydrate, low fat diet.

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