Gastritis in Dogs — What to Know

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If your dog suddenly begins throwing up, he may have a condition called gastritis. Gastritis develops when a dog’s stomach lining becomes inflamed and usually results from a dog consuming something that either they shouldn’t have because it is toxic or not digestible. However, this irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining can also be caused by a stomach irritation unrelated to what the dog has eaten.

Symptoms of Gastritis:

Embrace Pet Insurance Claims Manager Rachel Hinder RVT explains that the most common symptom of a dog with gastritis is vomiting. This vomiting might take the form of bile, vomiting up food. She continues that dogs with gastritis might also include vomiting blood, foreign objects or water.

A sick dog lying on the floor looking sad.

A sick dog lying on the floor looking sad. Photography ©Lightguard | E+ / Getty Images.

Dr. Rebello Emergency Medical Director with NorthStar VETS (https://www.northstarvets.com/home) also advises dog guardians to watch for poor appetite as a symptom of gastritis, and Hinder notes that “if gastritis persists, dogs can exhibit weight loss” as well as lethargy.

Causes of Gastritis

Dr. Rebello explains that gastritis can be caused by infection (bacterial, viral or parasitic infections), simple dietary indiscretion, toxin exposure, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.”

Diagnosis of Gastritis:

To diagnose a dog with gastritis, Rachel says vets will primarily look at a dog’s history as well as clinical signs (such as vomiting). She explains that additional diagnostic tests may be needed in order to determine what the underlying cause of the dog’s gastritis might be and if any foreign objects have been ingested. These tests may include radiographs, bloodwork, ultrasound and even exploratory surgery.

Treatment of Gastritis:

Once your dog’s vet has determined the cause of gastritis, Rachel explains that gastritis is “often treated symptomatically” This will likely take the form of antiemetic medication (for vominting and nausea), supportive fluids, gastric protectant medications and/or nutritional support.

Sick dog

Sick dog. Photography ©GlobalP | Getty Images

She notes that if the cause of a dog’s gastritis is ingested foreign material that has resulted in an obstruction, treatment for your dog may require surgery. In addition, “If the pet ingested something toxic, they may need extra supportive care to help the dog pass the toxin.” Essentially the treatment is going to primarily be dictated by what the underlying cause of the gastritis is.

Prognosis of Gastritis:

If your dog has gastritis, Dr. Rebello says the “prognosis is generally very good with treatment with anti-nausea medication, antacids and fluids.” But Rachel adds that a dog’s prognosis will depend on the underlying cause of the gastritis. She says mild cases can be treated symptomatically with most dogs making full recoveries, however she did caution that if a dog has a more serious underlying cause for gastritis the prognosis may be less certain.

Ways to Avoid Gastritis:

The best way to avoid gastritis is to be very cautious about what your dog eats. Rachel advises that all dog guardians should limit what their dogs have access to, especially in terms of any toxins, foreign materials or items in the yard that your dog is likely to chew or possibly invest. In addition, she says to limit and research the kinds of food and treats that you give your dog. If you need to switch your dog’s food to a new type of food, do so gradually, and if you have any concerns seek support from your vet, as a sudden food change could also bring on gastritis symptoms in some dogs.

When To Go To The Vet:

A side effect of excessive vomiting can be dehydration, which can set in quickly and can cause additional complications, especially for very small dogs and puppies. The risk of dehydration is one reason Rachel advises that dogs who are vomiting and suspected of having gastritis should be seen by their veterinarian right away. Your vet will be able to make a diagnosis, explore the underlying cause and begin appropriate treatment.

About the author:

Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author and Certified Trick Dog Instructor. Sassafras’ books have been honored by organizations ranging from the American Library Association to the Lambda Literary Foundation. New dog books from Sassafras in 2019 include: Healing/Heeling, Bedtime Stories for Rescue Dogs: William To The Rescue (with Lili Chin), and TRICKS IN THE CITY: For Daring Dogs and the Humans That Love Them (forthcoming in August from Mango Press). Learn more at www.SassafrasLowrey.com.

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