From vomiting and diarrhea to flatulence and abdominal bloating, digestive issues are one of the most common reasons pets are brought to the vet. So what can you do if you notice your pet is showing signs of gastroenteritis? First things first, make an appointment with your vet so they can get to the bottom of why the issue is occurring and come up with a plan for how to treat it. But more often than not, your pet’s tummy troubles are caused by one of these five main culprits.
One of the most common reasons for an upset stomach is because your pet has eaten something they weren’t supposed to. Spoiled food, grass from the yard, or stuffing from their favorite toy, there are a number of things that can cause severe irritation of the gut and an imbalance in the normal gastrointestinal (GI) flora. It can be difficult to prevent these types of tummy issues, but if your pet commonly gets into things that they shouldn’t, talk to your vet about tips for protecting them from their indiscretions.
Maldigestion and Malabsorption
Whether your pet’s GI flora is out of balance or an anatomical condition is preventing the absorption of nutrients from food, maldigestion and malabsorption can cause serious nutritional deficiencies. If your vet suspects that these are the cause of ongoing tummy troubles, they will suggest a few different tests. Fecal cultures, blood work, an abdominal ultrasound, and possibly biopsies of the gut may all be required to make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan.
Food allergies account for only about 10% of total pet allergies, but they can have a significant impact on the life of your pet. The difficult thing about this type of allergy is that in addition to gastroenteritis, they can also cause serious dermatological issues. To determine what specific allergen is causing the problem, your vet will conduct a series of blood tests, skin tests, and elimination diets. Once the allergen has been identified, your pet will be prescribed a limited ingredient or hydrolyzed protein diet, as well as medications to help clear up any lingering skin or gastrointestinal issues.
When it comes to parasitic gastroenteritis, fleas, ticks, and heartworms are often at the root of the problem. Fortunately, these types of tummy issues are easily avoided simply by ensuring your pet takes their monthly parasite preventatives. Today, there are many medications available protect your pet from not just one parasite, but several. If your vet suspects that parasites are the cause of your pet’s issues, they will conduct a fecal examination and prescribe antibiotics and deworming agents to treat the problem.
Viruses and Bacteria
While infectious diseases are most likely to cause acute gastrointestinal distress, this can become a chronic issue if left untreated. To determine whether it’s a virus or bacteria that’s wreaking havoc on your pet’s GI system, your vet will do a fecal culture, blood work, and imaging. If the issue is bacterial, your pet will be prescribed antibiotics and probiotics, while viruses will be treated with supportive care and possibly antibiotics if secondary bacterial infections appear. However, the best way to keep your pet free of the most common viruses is to ensure that their vaccinations are up to date.
To keep your pet’s gut happy and healthy, the best thing you can do is to provide them with plenty of water and a healthy diet of fresh foods, like Freshpet’s line of refrigerated meals. For a little extra help, you can also talk to your veterinarian about supplementing your pet’s food with a daily probiotic to keep GI flora in check.