Sickness and Diarrhoea: Is it an emergency?

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Taking Action

The first step, if your pet is being sick or has diarrhoea, is to stop feeding and to give only small sips of water little and often.. If your pet continues to vomit, seek veterinary advice. Self-limiting diarrhoea should normally settle in 2-3 days. There are important circumstances where you should not wait for 24 hours before talking to your vet, if your pet is being sick. 

Call your vet if…

  • Your pet is very young or very old (as they can become dehydrated very quickly)
  • Your pet has an existing health condition, such as diabetes
  • Your pet already takes medicine. Ask for advice about whether it can or should be stopped while your pet is being sick
  • You see blood in vomit or diarrhoea or black, tarry looking material is being passed
  • Your pet looks very miserable, becomes depressed or the gums feel dry and tacky
  • Your pet’s tummy starts to swell or the pet starts to groan or strain. Swelling can be a sign of a serious problem – so call your vet immediately if you spot this.
  • After 24 hours, your pet’s tummy appears to settle and you need advice about what to feed next, talk to your vet. Vets will often recommend a specially formulated food such as Hill's™ Prescription Diet™ i/d™,  rather than an immediate return to your pet’s normal food.

One last word of advice – call your vet before taking your sick pet to the practice. They may ask you to wait in a different waiting area if they suspect your pet could be infectious to other patients.


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