Throwing up!


Stages, causes and consequences

Vomiting (or Emesis) is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth. Although it probably evolved as a mechanism for expelling ingested poisons, vomiting may result from many causes not related to poisoning. Here’s more on it.

Stages of vomition…

There are six stages of vomition. In general, a vomiting episode is preceded by a state of nausea in which your dog appears uncomfortable and turns in circle, as if your dog is trying to purge. Then when your dog tries to vomit, violent heaving of the flank and thorax is observed. After a final effort, the contents of the stomach are ejected. In cases where only the contents of the oesophagus are regurgitated, there is no noticeable effort; the food is easily ejected by means of simple reflex.

Vomiting may be:

  • Central: It occurs when there is stimulation of the vomiting centre CTZ (chemoreceptor trigger zone) of the medulla.
  • Peripheral: Irritation of mucosa of the alimentary tract.
  • Emotional: Stimulation of higher centre out of fear, agony, tension may produce vomiting in dog or cat.

Causes of vomiting…

Vomiting is usually an indication of inflammation or excessive distension of organs, namely those of the digestive tract, oesophagus, stomach, intestine, and liver. The causes are numerous – mainly these include poisoning, gastritis, ulcers, gastroenteritis, foreign objects, intestinal obstruction, gastric dilation torsion or spoiled food. Vomiting may also be a symptom of an infectious or viral disease. Absorbin

g excessive quantities of food, foreign objects or substances that prevent the stomach from emptying the contents into small intestine also cause gastric distension and consequently vomiting. Finally vomiting can also be an indication of diseases that affect other organs, especially renal or hepatic insufficiencies or even nervous disorders such as motion sickness.

Vomiting can be acute or chronic. In acute stage, it can occur suddenly and is temporary in nature. And in chronic stage, it builds progressively and is recurrent for a month.

Consequences of vomiting…

Vomiting may have serious effects in that fluid and electrolytes may be lost in large quantities. Vomiting causes dehydration and rather severe malnutrition as well as blood imbalance. Sooner or later, it will have repercussions on the general health of the dog. This is why vomiting must be treated quickly, especially in young animals.

When to call a vet…

Vomiting is often seen in dogs and if your dog vomits only once and your pet is alert and active, it is unlikely to be a problem. However, if it is frequent or occurs over a period of few days, there

may be an underlying problem. If your pet is dull and lethargic, seek a vet immediately.

Musts for treatments…

In order to help the vet establish a diagnosis, it is important to know the frequency of vomiting, the time when it occurs – like after a meal or drinking, and its appearance. If there is any doubt about the presence of blood in vomitus, biochemical tests should be performed. All these information will give the vet indications about its origin and help him prescribe a treatment.

(Dr Munmun De is a veterinary specialist, with a degree in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry (BVSc & AH).)