Getting to the bottom of a crappy situation…

Most dog (and cat) owners will at some point of their furry friend’s life experienced an incident of vomiting and diarrhoea in their pet. It is one of the most common health complaints vets get across the world.

Gastrointestinal symptoms (cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and smelly gas) can be triggered by a whole host of possible causes of which some are:

  • Sudden diet change (i.e. switching your dog’s food without a week transition period)
  • Viral or Bacterial infection of the gut
  • Inflammation of the large intestine (colitis)
  • Liver, pancreas or kidney disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Antibiotics
  • Eating rubbish, poop, toxic plants and other things they shouldn’t
  • Feeding of table scraps
  • Trauma to the gastrointestinal tract (i.e. from eating bones)

When do I panic?

At what point do you need to take your pet through to the vet? Generally speaking, if your pet is struggling with ongoing (meaning either he vomits every morning for a week) or frequent vomiting (vomits 4-6 x an hour without showing any sign of stopping), or there is any blood in the vomit, it is better that they are seen by a vet to ensure that they don’t dehydrate or lose too many electrolytes.

Regarding diarrhoea, if the diarrhoea is not explosive, and they are otherwise eating, drinking and behaving normally, this is not an emergency. If the diarrhoea has been going on longer than 5 days with no improvement, if there is blood in the stool, if your pet becomes lethargic and goes off their food, or if the diarrhoea turns projectile explosive, this is the point at which you need to pay us a visit!

What can I do to help my pet in the meantime?

If your pet is ongoing vomiting, but you are not in a position to bring them to the vet immediately, please call us so that we can guide you as best we can over the phone. There are a few human medications that you might have in your pet first aid kit that can help you in a sticky situation. One is Valoid, (even better, Vomiz), which will assist with mild nausea. Phone us and we will give you the correct dose range for your pet, it is important to ask the vet’s advice as you could easily overdose your pet on human medications. It is also important to note, that these medications are not registered for your pet, and could be harmful if used incorrectly. If you are concerned that your pet is dehydrated, you can give them a self-made rehydrate mix of 4 cups of water, 1 Tbsp sugar or honey, and 1 level tsp salt. Again, phone your vet for advice on how much of this mixture to give per hour, but the general rule for minimum hydration is 2ml per kg bodyweight per hour. As soon as you have opportunity though, please take your pet to the vet for evaluation and possible drip.

If your dog has diarrhoea, you can come and collect an anti-diarrhoeal paste called “Diomec” or “Canigest” from us over the counter as well as some probiotic sachets. A lot of the time this is all that is necessary for the gut to fix itself, though it does take 3-7 days.

So how do I ensure my dog has the perfect poop?

Plain and simple. Good quality food. “But my dog loves the supermarket food! And he won’t touch the expensive vet stuff…”. Yes, kids will also choose McDonald’s over vegetables every day of the week, it doesn’t mean it is good for them. And yes, many dogs do perfectly fine on the bare minimum, and if you are one of those lucky pet owners, that is fantastic! However, many dogs do have sensitive tummies and putting them on a highly digestible, high fibre good quality food will prevent many illnesses, including gut issues. Speak to your vet about which food is best suited for your dog and whether there are any other health concerns around your dog’s digestive system.

“But my dog is already on the best vet diet and he still gets diarrhoea, why isn’t it working?” As mentioned before, there are many causes to upset tummies, ranging from something as simple as a sudden change in diet, all the way to the more serious stuff like liver disease, or IBD. We need to see your pet and ask a bunch of questions to guide us in the right direction, and perhaps further tests are warranted to figure out why the spuitpoep… Just with humans, pets do not have a “one size fits all” when it comes to food, and it is our job to work together with you to find what works for your pet.

What about probiotics?

Adding a good probiotic daily or during times of diarrhoea helps as well. We recommend Protexin for the everyday, and Probivet for the gastro cases.

What about Kefir? Yes, Kefir is a great source of probiotics and can be used at a dose of 1 Tbsp per 5 kilogram bodyweight per day. Stay away from other dairy in general. There is no benefit of adding dairy to your pet’s diet, other than Kefir. Plain Yoghurt is also acceptable but Kefir has less chance of gut upsets and has great probiotic properties.

Having an anti-diarrhoeal paste such as Diomec or Canigest in your pet medicine arsenal is also helpful. It is over the counter, and is pretty safe to give to your pet in an emergency type situation.

We hope this article has given you a little more insight on the good, the brown and the ugly when it comes to gut issues, but if you have any questions on the article or would like to book your pet in for a digestive consult, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us! Email us at or give us a call on 021 851 3511.