July 2009 Issue

Vomiting: When to Take it Seriously

An occasional hairball is normal, but a chronic problem with vomiting warrants a trip to the vet.

You hear a familiar retching sound in the kitchen. Striker is vomiting up his dinner again. As you walk downstairs to clean up the mess, you wonder if itís just hair balls ó or something more serious that requires a trip to the veterinarianís office. Cats vomit for numerous reasons, ranging from benign dietary indiscretion to potentially fatal systemic diseases such as renal failure or hyperthyroidism. The experts say that cat owners should pay close attention to a cat that regularly becomes sick to his or her stomach. Be Observant. "When it comes to vomiting, the important concept for cat owners is observation," advises Fred Scott, DVM, PhD, interim director of Cornellís Feline Health Center. "Vomiting in association with signs of systemic illness must be addressed rapidly." Signs include lethargy, fever, loss of appetite or weight loss. Even if the cause of vomiting is transient or self-limiting, loss of fluids and electrolytes can have life-threatening consequences.

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