For 1 week, every morning between 5 am and 6 am, Nando vomited twice in rapid succession. We could easily hear the ‘classic’ vomiting motions from bed, which goes something like ‘glump-glump-glump-blaaargh’ (this is compared to regurgitation, which is usually just straight to ‘blaaargh’, and has different causes than vomiting).
The vomit Nando was producing was frothy and white – this means his stomach was empty and he was bringing up the fluids (stomach acid, mucus, bile) produced by the stomach and the upper small intestine.
Here are my thought process on trying to figure out what the problem was:
- His stomach was empty, so there was unlikely a major foreign body obstruction – at least in his stomach, or his upper small intestine.
- He was bright, alert, energetic, and eating well after vomiting, and did not vomit after eating or drinking – so he did not have any major abdominal discomfort or obstruction and was not feeling constantly nauseous.
- We watched his pooing closely – he did poos of normal amounts and consistency, with no weird looking things within (no weirder than normal anyhow…..). This continued on for days – which gave me peace of mind that he did not have a lower small intestinal or large intestine obstruction.
So, my list of possibilities became:
- Irritation to the stomach caused by the stomach acids/bile due to having an empty stomach for too long. His evening meal was usually between 5-6pm. We tried feeding him a snack later in the evening – this did not resolve the problem.
- Reacting to Pigs Ears – Nando had been getting one pigs ear per day to chew on – these snacks are treated with preservatives and can be high in fat – and I was worried they were causing either a partial obstruction or low-grade pancreatitis. We stopped feeding them. The vomiting continued.
- Nando burps after every meal – while cute, I am not sure it is entirely normal – so I have always had a question mark on whether he has some sort of low grade congenital (an issue he was born with) problem in his upper intestinal tract……this would require an extensive veterinary work-up to figure out – barium swallow with X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, possible MRI/CT scan etc.
- Some other partial foreign body obstruction – tissues/serviettes, hair (he has started pulling apart his sheepskin rugs), chewed toy or cardboard etc.
After 5 days of daily vomiting (only in the early morning), the vomiting decreased to every second day. Then one morning he actually vomited something solid up. It looked like, and was shaped like, a poo. When I had a closer look, it was a large fur ball – similar to what cats sometimes hack up. Cats get them from grooming their coats (and maybe eating hairy things like mice), but Nando does not groom his coat much – so the likely source of the hair was his sheep skin rugs. The hair must have been lodged and accumulating in his small intestine, where it was compacted by the peristaltic movement of the intestinal muscles – thus giving the poo-like shape.
Since that day – Nando has stopped vomiting…….and we supervise his ‘sheepskin time’ more closely now. He is getting Pigs Ears again, albeit fewer these days, and is having no problems with those. He is bright, energetic, and in good body condition…..so crisis averted for now!