Stomach Upset? Head to the Vet: Why GI Issues Need to be addressed by a Veterinarian

There are lots of reasons why your dog or cat might be experiencing GI issues. Once you notice these signs, contact your veterinarian. Even the most common signs can be related to a serious illness.

Show What You Know

A medical history is often one of the most important steps in identifying the cause of your cat or dog’s symptoms. Be sure to share that history and inform the veterinarian of all current symptoms. Include any changes in diet or behavior and any incidents possibly related to your pet’s current digestive issues.

  • Eating habits. Have there been any changes to recent eating habits? Sudden introductions of new food can trigger GI issues. Access to any human food, garbage or other non-food items can also create digestive disruptions or possible obstructions.
  • Decreased energy and appetite. If your pet hasn’t been acting like herself lately, that’s definitely worth noting for the vet. Decreased energy and loss of appetite may be signs of weakness that are more than just being tired.
  • Clear symptoms.  Diarrhea and vomiting are the two most common signs of digestive issues. Dogs suffering from diarrhea can exhibit a sense of urgency to go outside or have accidents inside the house. Changes in bathroom habits and vomiting are excellent clues to any digestive disruptions.

Pinpoint the Cause


Your pet’s stomach problems may seem relatively straightforward, but these can actually be signs of an infection, chronic illness or a more serious condition. This is why it’s so important to contact your vet right away. When you bring your animal in, your vet will do a number of things to help determine why your dog or cat is feeling sick:
  • Physical examination. Your veterinarian will give your pet a thorough physical exam looking for any indications of the cause of illness.
  • Blood analysis. A blood test can be very helpful in identifying many of the underlying causes of gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Fecal tests. Parasites can be diagnosed using stool samples, so this is a good way to help eliminate parasites as a cause of the issues.
  • X-rays. These are helpful for identifying obstructions and the part of the gastrointestinal system that’s affected.
  • Additional procedures. An endoscopy or ultrasound may be recommended if a more extensive evaluation is required. These procedures can provide additional information to help your veterinarian make a diagnosis.
The Treatment Plan

Based on all signs and final test results, your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat your pet’s digestive issue. There are a few ways your vet can help improve your pet’s GI upset:
  • Therapeutic diet. Your veterinarian may use this method as either a short-term or long- term solution. A specially formulated food can provide necessary nutrients to help nutritionally manage the condition and support her overall health while being easy on a sensitive stomach.
  • Feeding schedule. If your pet has been diagnosed with an illness that requires a strict feeding schedule and portion size, make sure it is followed. Inform any caregivers of this, as well.
  • Medications. In addition to any changes in daily diet or feeding regimen, your pet may also need specific medications to help treat the symptoms and underlying condition.

Visit Your Vet

It’s never a good sign when your pet isn’t feeling well. If they’re having consistent gastrointestinal problems, be sure to contact your vet so you can get them back on track to feeling better.

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