Signs of stomach upset and gastritis
Stomach upsets and gastrointestinal problems are very common in Hong Kong. The main signs of gastrointestinal problems include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating, gas and inappetence.
There are two main causes of gastrointestinal upset in Hong Kong – infection and irritation. Infections generally involve parasites or bacteria such as Giardia, Campylobacter, E. coli and Salmonella. Some infections can be passed to people, but basic hygiene such as washing hands and cleaning up pet waste will generally prevent any problems. Irritation is also a common cause of gastroenteritis. Many pets have a sensitive stomach and rapid changes in diet or spicy treats can cause intestinal inflammation and problems.
What do I do if my pet has a stomach problem?
Some cases of gastroenteritis will clear by themselves – if the pet is generally happy and active and the signs are mild, you may wait for a day to see if it’s just a passing upset. You should feed bland food while a pet has an upset stomach and make sure he/she is drinking plenty of water.
If a pet is very lethargic, vomiting or trying to vomit frequently (eg more than 4-5 times in a 12 hour period), or has blood in vomit or stools it may be serious and should be checked immediately by a veterinarian. Treatment normally includes medication to help prevent vomiting and diarrhoea, and possible antibiotics or anti-inflammatories if necessary. In serious cases hospitalisation and a drip may be required if your pet is dehydrated. Here are some Useful Vet Contacts in Hong Kong if you are concerned.
Special diets for pets with senstive stomachs
For pets who have a sensitive stomach or who are prone to intestinal problems, there are commercially available diets that are designed to reduce irritation and naturally strengthen the normal protective intestinal barrier. The Hills Vetessentials range for cats and dogs is formulated to be easily digestible and may reduce instances of vomiting and diarrhoea in animals with sensitive stomachs. Owners should also be aware and limit rich treats or strongly flavoured foods to sensitive pets, or use treats designed for sensitive stomachs. Overall gastrointestinal health can be improved by supplementing the diet with a probiotic such as pro-kolin or including a little natural yogurt in with your dog’s dinner.