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Vomiting and Diarrhea Home Care

If your pet is lethargic, not able to drink enough to replace lost fluids, not urinating two or three times a day, has any blood in the feces or vomitus, or has had symptoms for more than 24 hours, please do not try nursing care at home. Please call to schedule an urgent appointment at San Bruno Pet Hospital, or if we are closed, please call the emergency hospital.


If your pet has diarrhea, you may give Imodium AD tablets twice a day, 1/4 caplet for small dogs and cats, 1/2 caplet for 25-40 pound dogs, 1 caplet for dogs over 40 pounds. If your pet has a formed bowel movement or no bowel movement for 12 hours, discontinue Imodium. You may also try feeding a bland diet such as cooked white rice and a little cooked white meat chicken or low fat cottage cheese. The proportion of rice to chicken or cottage cheese should be 4 parts rice to 1 part chicken.

Offering water when your pet is vomiting 
If your adult pet is vomiting, remove the water for 2 hours after the last episode of vomiting. Then offer a small quantity of water every half hour. For small dogs less than 10 pounds, this would be 1/8 cup. For a dog 10-20 pounds, offer 1/4 cup. For a dog 30-50 pounds, offer 1/2 cup, etc. Offer this small quantity of water every half hour, and if there is no vomiting for 6 hours, you may offer free choice water.

If your geriatric pet is vomiting, please make an appointment. Senior pets frequently have reduced organ function which may make it difficult for them to compensate and can lead to dehydration at a faster rate than a younger pet.

Offering food when your pet is vomiting

If your puppy or kitten is vomiting, (note: they are more fragile than adults, and you should call for advice) do not offer any food for 6 hours after the last episode of vomiting. Then offer a small quantity of bland food. To determine the quantity of food you will feed, please use the water guidelines given above. After 24 hours, you may feed free choice. If your pet is still vomiting, please call for an appointment.

If your adult dog or cat is vomiting, do not feed for 12-24 hours. If he or she is not vomiting at that time, you may offer a small quantity of bland food every 4 hours. Feed a quantity similar to the water. If your pet is still vomiting, please call for an appointment.

  • The bland food you feed should be a low fat, low protein, high carbohydrate and easily digestible. An example of this would be steamed, peeled potatoes; cooked, white rice; pasta; or oatmeal. No seasonings or oil should be added. However, you can make the rice with chicken or vegetable broth. You may add a small quantity of low-fat cottage cheese, cooked white chicken meat, or low fat, cooked, ground meat. The relative quantity of carbohydrate to protein should be 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part meat or cottage cheese.
  • If your pet starts vomiting again, please start the waiting period again and call the hospital to make an appointment.
  • If your pet is vomiting, please check your home (and yard if your pet goes outside) for signs that your pet may have eaten something that could cause the vomiting. Some of these items can be very serious and may require immediate medical attention. Here are some examples:
    • Dental floss, string, ribbon, sewing thread
    • Batteries (cause lead poisoning)
    • Coins (cause zinc poisoning)
    • Needles, small toys, or pieces of toys
    • Small balls such as super balls
    • Food in compost bins or garbage
    • Bones, meat, fat, or chicken skin
    • Fruit pits such as peach or plum pits
    • Cleansers, paint thinner, or anti-freeze
    • Rocks, dirt, sand, wood, salt water, bird seed
    • Grass. All grass is irritating to the stomach wall but wild California grass is particularly irritating. The leaves have barbs, and the seed clusters (especially foxtails and cattails) are particularly serious. • Poisonous plants. You may see a list of poisonous plants online at
    • Rawhide
    • Human medication. Never give your pet the over the counter human medication without an OK from your vet. Just because it is safe for people, does not mean it is safe for dogs and cats. For example, 1/2 of a Tylenol will kill a cat.
    • Kitty litter
    • Fecal matter (Why do they do this?)
    • Plastic bags, plastic or rubber toys, and latex exam gloves

CONTACT San Bruno Pet  to make an urgent, same day appointment IF:

  • The diarrhea is black, tarry, or dark red.
  • The urine is very dark or cola colored.
  • There is blood in the vomitus.
  • Your pet refuses to drink or cannot take in enough liquid to replace lost fluids.
  • Your pet is vomiting occasionally and able to keep down fluids, but the vomiting is continuing for more than 2 days.
  • Your pet is passing large quantities of watery stool for 24 hours in an adult pet or for 12 hours in a puppy or kitten.
  • Your pet has abdominal pain.
  • Your pet is very lethargic or sleepy.
  • Your pet has vomited more than 5 times in one day and is lethargic or having watery diarrhea.
  • There are signs of dehydration such as
    • The gums are dry and tacky.
    • The eyes are dry and sunken looking.
    • There is little or no urine production in 8 hours.
    • Your pet is urinating fewer than 3 times a day.
    • You pinch and pull the skin away from the body wall, and it does not return immediately. (like the skin over your elbow)