A wide variety of underlying factors can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea in both dogs and cats. To narrow down possible causes, look at some important elements in the pet’s history. These include:
Age- The list of underlying causes in a young, healthy animal is different than the list in an older animal.
Overall health of the animal- Any additional symptoms, such as listlessness or anorexia.
Indoor vs. Outdoor pet- Possible exposure to toxins.
Frequency of vomiting
Presence of blood in vomitus
Potential causes of vomiting and/or diarrhea in puppies/kittens:
1) Foreign Body- This is one of the first things to rule out because puppies and kittens are notorious for eating things that they shouldn’t.
2) Intestinal Parasites- This is a very common cause of diarrhea in young animals. In addition, a high worm burden will sometimes cause vomiting.
3) Toxin Ingestion- Several house plants will cause vomiting if ingested. Additional toxins include: chocolate, ethylene glycol, and rat bait.
4) Viral Infection- In a puppy, it is important to rule out the possibility of a viral infection such as Parvovirus or Distemper virus.
5) Diet- An abrupt change in food or if the puppy/kitten eats something outside of their normal diet, especially something high in fat, can cause vomiting.
Potential causes of vomiting and/or diarrhea in older dogs/cats:
1) Stress- Older animals become much more sensitive to changes in their environment. If the animal has been placed under increased stress in the environment, this can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. The diarrhea will often be blood tinged.
2) Food Sensitivity- This can be due to a change in diet or sometimes dogs/cats will develop sensitivity to their regular food as they age. The most common symptom is chronic unexplained vomiting.
3) Underlying health issue- In older dogs/cats it is very important to rule out the possibility of an underlying health issue, such as pancreatitis, renal disease, or liver disease.
4) Foreign Body- This includes hairballs for cats.
5) Toxin Ingestion- Several house plants will cause vomiting if ingested. Additional toxins include: chocolate, ethylene glycol, and rat bait.