Question: Our dog, Enzo, has been vomiting on and off for months. Is this something we need to investigate? He seems to be fine between these episodes. We don't want to be negligent but at the same time don't want to spend a lot of money if there is nothing wrong. We would like to explore holistic options first.
L.C., via email
Answer: Vomiting, which can be acute (less than a day's duration) or chronic (intermittent vomiting on and off, or persistent vomiting for weeks or months), can be a symptom of many conditions in dogs and cats.
Vomiting can actually be useful to your pet as it's an efficient way to remove irritants or toxic substances from the stomach. But when it keeps happening, it's important to get your pet checked out.
After taking a full history and performing a clinical exam, your vet may recommend blood tests to rule out metabolic and infectious causes. X-rays and ultrasound may be required if there is suspicion of a foreign body or obstruction.
Endoscopy is a useful tool to rule out foreign bodies in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum and to diagnose ulcers. Other tests may also be suggested, depending on the suspected cause.
If vomiting persists longer than a day and your pet is not eating, fluid therapy with drugs such as antiemetics (anti-vomiting medication) and antacids may be necessary until your pet can keep food and water down. Proton-pump inhibitors like omeprazole are often prescribed in chronic cases.
If irritable bowel disease is the cause, steroids may be prescribed, while antibiotics and worming medications are needed in cases of infection. If a foreign body is identified, surgery may be necessary.
Vomiting can be caused by something very simple or something very serious, so always take your pet to a vet if he or she is no better after trying the home remedies suggested here.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten a foreign body, rush to the vet, as it's an emergency. Pets that can't even hold water down may have an obstruction.
The most common cause of vomiting is dietary indiscretion, so fasting your pet for 12 to 24 hours and giving him small amounts of water (try ice cubes) is usually all that's needed. After that, feed him bland food warmed to room temperature.
Ginger is helpful as a digestive aid for animals and humans suffering from nausea, colic, flatulence, vomiting and lethargy. At my clinic, I've found ginger to be a useful remedy for dogs and cats suffering from travel sickness and nausea due to chemo- or radiotherapy treatment for cancer. Try feeding Enzo a tiny piece of fresh ginger to quell the nausea.
Peppermint. As a tea, this can be helpful for both dogs and cats to settle an upset stomach.
Chamomile essential oil placed in a simple diffuser or nebulizer can be very effective in calming an upset stomach and alleviating nausea. Allow Enzo to breathe in the scent for several hours. Alternatively, dilute the essential oil with vegetable oil (1:1) and rub a little onto the tips of his ears.
The homeopathic remedies useful for vomiting are:
Nux Vomica 6c.
Suggested dosage: 3-4 times daily until vomiting stops
Arsenicum Album 30C. This is especially good if your pet is very thirsty and vomits immediately after drinking. It can also help if your pet has diarrhea.
Suggested dosage: give every 15 min up to 4-6 times daily for a few days
HomeoPet Digestive Upsets, available from www.homeopet.com, can be helpful.
Suggested dosage: follow the label instructions
Vomiting can be brought on by anxiety and stress, so if this might be the case for Enzo, try using Bach's Rescue Remedy combined with crab apple essence.
Suggested dosage: add 6-8 drops of each essence to an ounce of spring water and give ¼-½ a dropperful four times a day
Traditional Chinese medicine
'Curing Pills' are a traditional Chinese remedy used to treat nausea and prevent vomiting. You can put these tiny pills directly on your pet's tongue or dissolve them in water and syringe them into your pet's mouth. But for chronic vomiting, it's best to a see a traditional Chinese veterinary practitioner and get an individual diagnosis.
Suggested dosage: for dogs weighing 15-50 pounds (7-23 kg), take up to 15 pills; for smaller dogs, take around 10 pills
Applying gentle pressure on the following points for one minute twice daily can help to relieve nausea:
ST 36. "Stomach 36" is located behind or lateral to the tibial crest, on the outer side of the back leg, just below the knee in a depression where the lower leg (tibia) joins the knee.
LIV 14. "Liver 14" is located at a tiny bump along the top of the seventh rib (sixth intercostal space).
PC 8. "Pericardium 8" is located near the dewclaw on the front leg, half an inch above the wrist pad.
Animal reiki or other forms of energy healing can be a fantastic complement to veterinary care and can be safely given by you to your pet. See chapter 5 of my book You Can Heal Your Pet for full details on how to do this.
Rohini Sathish, DVM, MSC, MRCVS, MHAO, MCIVT
Dr Sathish is an award-winning holistic vet with 22 years of experience. After training in acupuncture, acupressure, energy healing, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), animal communication and herbal medicine, she now actively integrates conventional veterinary treatments with complementary therapies and is co-author of You Can Heal Your Pet (Hay House UK, 2015). You can contact Dr Sathish at her website: www.rohinisholisticvetcare.com