Home Care for Vomiting and/or Diarrhea

If our gastrointestinal system is upset, for whatever reason (virus, stress, foods), the first thing it needs is rest. No solid food of any kind should be given for 24 hours. Staying hydrated is important, however, especially for small animals. Pick up a bottle or two of generic pediatric electrolyte water at the drug store and offer this instead of your pet's regular water. I usually get the unflavored variety. If your companion animal doesn't like it, offer bottled or filtered water instead. It's important that they continue drinking to avoid dehydration.

It's nearly always safe to give your dog Pepto-Bismol®; a teaspoon three times a day for a small dog and a tablespoon for a large dog. Tablets are just as effective, and it does soothe the stomach. This product has aspirin-like qualities, so do not use it for cats. Kaopectate® can be used in both dogs and cats, using the infant dosage.

Since there is inflammation of the stomach or intestines in many cases, an injection is often helpful to reduce the turmoil and settle things down. We prefer a combination of penicillin, dexamethasone, Centrine®, and vitamin C. This gives an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmotic, and vitamin C for recovery. For dogs we also may send home an antispasmotic tablet to be given three times a day. If there is diarrhea, you'll want to use these tablets until the stool is formed, then stop.

After the 24 hours, you can offer your pet small amounts or their regular food. In severe cases, you might want to cook some rice and hamburger (pour off the fat), and just offer a small amount of half rice and half hamburger for a couple days, gradually adding their regular food. Don't push the food too soon or too fast. Remember the last time you had intestinal flu. You probably only wanted toast and soup when you started getting better.

If your pet is not obviously better within two or three days, don't hesitate to call your veterinarian. These things usually pass quickly, but if prolonged, there may be another problem.

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