/ Dr Peto Says

Vomiting or Regurgitation ~ An Important Distinction

Published July 16, 2012 in Dr Peto Says, Monthly Care Tips, What's New |

Vomiting is a symptom that commonly affects both cats and dogs.

Even though vomiting is very common, one of the first things that a veterinarian has to do when faced with a “vomiting” animal companion is determine whether or not that is truly what is occurring.

Vomiting can easily be confused with regurgitation, and making the distinction between vomiting and regurgitation is crucial. Not only are their causes very different, but so are the treatments that are most likely to help.

Of course, it is ultimately the veterinarian’s job to determine whether an animal companion is vomiting or regurgitating, but it is very helpful if fur parents know what distinguishes the two conditions so they can accurately describe what they are seeing at home.

Vomiting is an active process. It involves contractions of the abdominal wall (i.e., retching) prior to the actual event and the sensation of nausea, which is often associated with excess salivation, licking of the lips, and drooling.

Regurgitation, on the other hand, is passive and may occur just after an animal companion changes position (e.g., lowers his head).

Where the material comes from is also important. Vomitus originates in the stomach and sometimes the first part of the small intestine. If you see bile, a yellow or orange digestive fluid that is produced by the liver and delivered to the small intestine, you know your companion is vomiting, but an absence of bile does not eliminate vomiting as a possibility.

Regurgitated material travels backwards from either the esophagus or pharynx into the mouth or nose. Regurgitus sometimes exits the body in the shape of a tube because of the time it spends in the esophagus and typically contains food, saliva, and some mucus but no bile.

Not to confuse matters, but another symptom that is sometimes called “vomiting” by owners is expectoration. If your animal companion coughs a few (or more) times and then gags up a glob of mucus and associated expectorus, he may well be expectorating rather than vomiting or regurgitating.

If you get the opportunity, take a video of your animal companion during one of his “episodes” before your appointment and bring it with you. That would greatly assist your veterinarian reached a definitive diagnosis faster than you expect.

Selected from petMd.com

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