Original Question: My puppy has been inactive and hasn’t eaten any meals since yesterday. He has even thrown up the milk we have fed him and has been sleeping since yesterday. Can you help me with some advice? - Anonymous
Thanks for your question.
There is no way for me to know what is going on here as there is very little detail in your question, however I can give you some general advice for dealing with scenarios like this.
Vomiting and diarrhea can be due to over a hundred different reasons so figuring out the cause at home is not the goal. How you respond and deal with it is what is most important.
My recommendation for you is to monitor your dog closely. If your pet is acting normal and appears healthy, I would withhold food for about 4-6 hours to give the gut a bit of a rest but make sure there is free access to fresh water at all times. You can reduce the amount of food you’re offering and turn a daily amount of food into smaller meals given more frequently so the gut isn’t processing a large amount of food at a time which can be irritating or result in more vomiting and diarrhea. You could consider picking up a probiotic at your local pet supply shop which will seed the gut with good bacteria. If there is no improvement I would recommend that you visit your veterinarian for a consultation and physical exam.
I have a heavy warning for you. A puppy with vomiting and diarrhea will be experiencing water losses and can become dehydrated rapidly. The symptoms of dehydration are lethargy, listlessness, dry gums, dullness, reduced appetite, and weakness. The longer you wait to treat this, the worse it can get. Many pet owners will try to force water on their pet which could result in more vomiting and a worsening condition. For this reason, it is always ideal to seek veterinary attention even if it is just to have them asses the level of hydration and seriousness of the condition.
You may want to act quicker for other reasons as well. If your puppy has played with a new toy or treat recently, they could have ingested some of it and it may have a blocked gastrointestinal system which is an emergency. Look around the house for new items like toys, especially chewed up or destroyed ones, new plants, renovation materials, poisons, fertilizers, and any other toxins that they could have gotten into. Chances are more likely that it is a viral or bacterial infection much like us getting ‘food poisoning’ but you can’t be certain of anything so again, it’s good to seek medical attention early. Puppies frequently have gastrointestinal parasites that can contribute to these symptoms so fecal testing would also be recommended.
If it doesn’t resolve rapidly, I would recommend you visit your veterinarian for some diagnostics and a physical exam. Some common causes are gastrointestinal parasites, viral infections, dietary sensitivity, bacterial infection in the digestive tract, and dietary indiscretion which is a fancy way of saying that your dog could have eaten something off the ground that has upset their stomach, or an ingested object that is irritating the gastrointestinal system. Talk to your veterinarian about a list of tests you can perform but also a list of treatments to try. In an ideal world, we would perform all the tests on the first day and get an answer, but many people choose to do a few broad tests while implementing general therapy for a suspected condition, that way you may find the cause on a test, but if not, one of the treatments may have worked to solve the condition in the meantime.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway