Early Morning Vomiting May Signal Stomach Reflux Problems
October 23, 2012
Vomiting is a very common clinical sign in both dogs and cats and can be associated with many disorders. Chronic vomiting occurs when the stomach is constantly inflamed and irritated, and usually leads to chronic and episodic vomiting in dogs and cats. Pets with chronic gastritis have intermittent vomiting, usually over a period of weeks to months. Chronic gastritis is usually not associated with eating and there may or may not be concurrent appetite loss, weight loss or abdominal pain.
Vomiting of yellowish, bile-stained fluid or foam early in the morning when the stomach is empty can be due to a form of chronic gastritis called "reflux gastritis". This disorder occurs when the stomach lining is injured because of chronic "back flush" or "reflux" of duodenal contents, such as bile and pancreatic enzymes. Animals with reflux gastritis tend to be healthy otherwise and do not vomit any other times.
Diagnosis of chronic reflux gastritis or any other kind of gastritis usually requires a biopsy of the lining of the stomach. This can be quite involved and costly and many veterinarians will try symptomatic treatment first to see if the problem can be resolved without resorting to surgical diagnostic methods.
Reflux gastritis can often be corrected by simply feeding your pet several small meals throughout the day or by feeding a late bedtime meal shortly before going to bed. This helps to buffer or neutralize the refluxed duodenal contents. There are also drugs available (e.g. metoclopramide) that can prove helpful. Your veterinarian can help you resolve this problem with treatment specific to your pet.