We see pets that are vomiting present through the ER for all sorts of reasons. In young animals, the most common cause is due to foreign body ingestion such as socks, underwear, sticks and other items found around the home. These items are usually not visualized with x-rays unless they are made of rock or metal. In middle-aged and older animals, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and cancer tend to be more common.
Blood work is often normal if the vomiting has not been present for long but tends to become abnormal with more serious causes of vomiting (prolonged presence of a foreign object in the intestine, pancreatitis and sometimes cancer).
Ultrasound is widely used in determining the cause of the vomiting. While many facilities do not have ready access to ultrasound, AVC is fortunate to have this valuable diagnostic in both locations. Patients can receive ultrasound within 24 hours which helps determine the course of treatment.
Food allergy is also a common cause for vomiting in any age pet, but especially the young dog. Dogs with food allergy tend to have a long history of intermittent vomiting, weight loss or decreased ability to maintain weight. Some will have soft stool and itchy skin as well. The ultrasound exam often will demonstrate mild lymph node enlargement and changes in the intestine compatible with inflammation. Cats with inflammation of the intestine tend to be middle-aged and older. Their condition is likely more immune mediated rather that dietary. Cats with a true food allergy generally present for intensive scratching at the head and face rather than vomiting.
In my opinion, no pet with serious vomiting should go without ultrasound. It is affordable and highly diagnostic. If foreign material is present within the intestine it should be removed as soon as possible to prevent life-threatening damage to blood supply and intestinal wall integrity.
If your pets needs an ultrasound, I will do my best to help you as quickly as possible.
Ultrasound exams generally do no require sedation. The atmosphere is with low-lighting and most pets seem relatively relaxed during the scan. If you have blood work or radiographs, it is helpful to bring them to the appointment. It is also best to have your pet scanned on any empty stomach (no food within about 6 hours) but this is not necessary.
An ultrasound scan at AVC costs $290. In general there are no other fees. I have 20+ years with ultrasound and recognize this to be a tool that needs to be affordable and accessible if we are going to be able to help pet owners help their pets.