What should you do if your pet has a tummy bug?

The most common cause is food poisoning.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

You may find your pet sometimes regurgitates its meals shortly after feeding. Or suffers diarrhoea that you cannot explain, or loses their appetite and won’t eat no matter how much you tempt them with their favourite food.

Just like humans, pets suffer from different digestive disorders such as stomach upsets, which can be severe or chronic therefore persisting for a long time or keep recurring.

So, what causes tummy troubles in pets?

 The most common cause is food poisoning. It could be from leftover food that has spices that were rough on the pet’s stomach or they could have chewed on a plant which they should not have. So, due to the absence of certain chemicals that can handle foreign food, some pets cannot process many compounds effectively, leading to vomiting or diarrhoea. 

Different meal

It could also be due to a new type of meal that you have introduced. If you think your pet is affected by this, try going back to a simple diet and sticking to one protein, for example, fish or beef until you see an improvement.

You will know the cause is dietary if your pet throws up 20 minutes or even immediately after eating. Or you may notice that they put off eating for as long as possible as they know the food is going to make them nauseous. 

Intestinal parasites are another cause for diarrhoea or vomiting. Your cat or dog picks the parasite from contaminated food or water or a cat can pick it up from the faeces of other cats when burying theirs in the same litter tray. 

For cats and dogs, hair or fur balls which they gather when grooming themselves can upset the stomach. They occur when they are licking their fur during grooming and in the process swallows some of it. Normally, the pet’s digestive system should handle this fur, which simply passes through the intestines tract and out as faeces. But there are instances when fur balls get very large and may need vet intervention.


Treatment of diarrhoea due to upset tummies generally is to wait for it to run its course. Let the pet guide you. Some will want to starve themselves, some may eat a bit. Keep an eye on them to make sure they are not deteriorating. Provide fresh water all the time to keep them hydrated. If you notice they are getting worse and looking weak, take them to the vet.

Maryanne is a pet owner. [email protected]