Animal Care Clinic Tips

Jul 29, 2010 1:17 PM by Dr. Bonnie Markoff

Ask the Expert: Vomiting after meals

Dear Anna,

Thank you for telling us about Asia. Vomiting after meals is a common problem and can be very disconcerting (let alone messy!) Luckily, there is much that can be done to help Asia to be happier and healthier. There is no doubt that vomiting after every meal is not normal.

There are an almost limitless number of causes for vomiting in animals. When we know an animal is feeling well enough to eat and is not losing weight, the possibilities decrease significantly. Part of determining the cause of Asia's vomiting would include getting a much more detailed history and performing a complete physical exam, which I cannot do online! So, I will try to describe the most likely scenarios.

Some cats and dogs vomit because they eat too fast or because they are anxious. We consider these behavioral problems. While these are addressed differently than "medical" problems, we still need to rule out medical causes of the vomiting first.

I see a lot of overweight cats that vomit or have diarrhea occasionally. (A 15# cat is almost certainly overweight.) In most cases they have a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD includes a number of different subtypes of diseases that cause the intestine or stomach to be infiltrated by inflammatory cells. This infiltration makes it hard to absorb some nutrients and also makes it hard for the GI tract to move. The stomach and intestine of dogs and cats (and people) is almost always in motion - pushing things from North to South (mouth to anus.) If things stop moving, we can see a reversal of flow (vomiting.) So IBD causes vomiting when movement is hindered and it causes diarrhea with weight loss when absorption is hindered.

Many cats with IBD also have low grade liver inflammation and pancreatic inflammation. Both of these conditions can cause vomiting, although they usually make kitties feel sick to some degree. Overweight cats are much more prone to these two conditions. If Asia does not have liver or pancreatic disease now, she could develop these problems in the future, especially if she stops eating for just 2-3 days.

So what should we do for Asia? We can't know exactly what path to follow without first meeting both you and Asia. We would work closely with you to determine the best way to get a diagnosis that fits into your budget and lifestyle. I am confident that we can find a way to make her feel better.

Bonnie Markoff
Animal Care Clinic

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