Dog Stomach Problems
“Dog Stomach Problems can have multiple causes. The most common symptom is vomiting. If your dog has just eaten, was outside and may have eaten garbage or grass or is on a new medication than this is likely the cause. Note that if your dog licked antifreeze in the street, this is a poison and requires immediate treatment. If your dog is suffering from persistent vomiting and you see blood in the vomit then the condition could be more severe. In any case, consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.”
Dog stomach problems can take many forms including ulcers, blockages, tumors, bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus) Addison’s disease and gastritis. The most common symptom is vomiting.
Be sure to call your veterinarian immediately if your dog is under age 6 mounts, you see objects in the vomit such as plastic or worms, your dog swallowed an object, you see blood, you see the stomach getting larger, your dog has other health problems, the vomiting is persistent for a period of 4 hours or longer.
Dog Upset Stomach
Upset stomach is a general description of many possible dog stomach problems. For example if your dog persistently vomits after eating it could be caused of any of the problems listed below including some type of blockage, a thickening of the stomach wall or even a problem with the way the stomach empties.
Vomiting can be a sign of a simple problem (eating fast or eating grass) or something more sever such as pancreatitis, kidney disease and liver disease.
Your veterinarian will take x-rays or use ultrasound to see inside the stomach to determine the route of the problem.
An ulcer is a an areas of the stomach where the mucous membrane is damaged causing inflammation. Ulcers also form at the duodenum which is the where the small intestine meets the stomach.
Ulcers in dogs are usually caused in by medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. If this wasn’t the cause then your veterinarian will check for liver disease, kidney problems and stress on your dog’s body from illness or surgery.
An ulcer can also form when the body is in shock which could be caused by a severe bacterial infection, heart problem or blood pressure issue.
Dog Ulcer Symptoms
The primary symptom of an ulcer is vomiting. You might see old or brownish colored blood mixed in.
Dog Ulcer Treatment
Ulcers are treated with drugs that are often used in humans. This includes Tagamet, Pepcid and Zantac .Antacids such as Mylanta are also used.
Dog Stomach Blockages
These types of dog stomach problems (also called gastric outflow obstruction) occurs when the stomach has trouble emptying its contents. Conditions that cause inflammation and scarring at this area which block drainage include ulcers and gastritis.
If the stomach is only partially blocked then one symptom is vomiting more than 12 hours after eating. You might see blood and partially digested food. If completely blocked then your dog will vomit forcibly right after eating.
Surgery is used to correct the obstruction.
Dog Stomach Tumors (gastric tumors)
This condition is usually seen in older dogs that are suffering from vomiting. You might see specks of dried dark colored blood in the vomit. If your veterinarian suspects this problem he will conduct a test called an gastrocopy to peer inside your dog’s stomach. Also a biopsy (tissue sample) will be taken of the tumor to help make a diagnosis.
The condition is treated with surgical removal of the part of the stomach where the tumor resides.
Dog Stomach Problems – Bloat
Bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus) is a very serious condition that requires immediate care. It is the condition showcased in the movie Marley and Me. Approximately 50% of dogs with the condition do not survive. Dog bloat is usually seen in middle aged and older dogs.
In bloat the stomach fills with fluid and then rotates, pulling the spleen with it. the stomach can twist up to 360 degrees. The twisting prevents fluids from leaving your dogs body, not just stomach fluids, but the ability to vomit as well. The condition cuts off blood flow to the stomach which causes cells to start dying.
Your veterinarian will try and empty the fluid from the stomach via the insertion of a tube through the mouth. Surgery is used if the stomach has twisted and all of the organs need to be placed back into their normal position.
Canine Addison’s Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)
Canine Addisions Disease is a dog stomach problem that impacts your dog’s adrenal glands. These are the glands that sit on top of the kidneys and are located in the abdomen. The glands secrete hormones that help the body regulate itself.
The disease occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks the glands and causes them to shut down. When a dog collapses with no known cause, canine addison’s disease is usually suspected.
Treatment includes the use of corticosteroids and intravenous fluids. Dog’s respond will to this approach and require treatment for the rest of their life.
There are two types of canine gastritis; acute gastritis and chronic gastritis.
Acute Gastritis: This condition is due to the lining of the stomach becoming irritated. The stomach can be irritated because of something your dog ate (bad food, something from the garbage, feces, grass, bones). The leading symptom is continuous vomiting.
This condition usually goes away by itself in 24 to 48 hours. See your veterinarian is you cannot identify what is causing continuous vomiting since your dog may have ingested a poison (e.g.; antifreeze) or she could have a severe problem such as something blocking part of the digestive system or a disease called peritonitis.
Chronic Gastritis: This condition is often caused by an allergy to a specific food. Other causes include hairballs, eating grass and other items that your dog shouldn’t eat such as paper or plastic.
Symptoms of canine chronic gastritis include tiredness, dull coat and weight loss. Your dog will periodically vomit.
Other types of gastritis are hypertrophic gastritis (the membranes in the lower half other stomach become thickened can cause blockage and keeps food from exiting the stomach), atrophic gastritis (thinning of the stomach wall) and eosinophilic gastritis (white blood cells accumulate along the stomach wall.
Your veterinarian will do a test called a gastroscopy to take a tissue sample from the wall of the stomach. Examination of the sample should indicate the cause of the condition. If this is the problem then your veterinarian will suggest a change in diet (bland diet such as Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d). You can also try a diet you can make at home such as boiled rice and cottage cheese.
Medications for stomach problems include many drugs used in humans including Tagamet, Pepcid and Zantac.
Canine Motion Sickness
Like people, your dog stomach problems can be due to motion sickness. Symptoms of dog motion sickness include excess salivation, yawning and vomiting.
Treatment is also similar to humans with the use of Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) and Gravol. The dosage for dogs is 2 to 4 mg for every pound of your dog’s body weight every 8 hours. Give your dog the mediation 1 hour prior to traveling. Never give your dog an over the counter medication without consulting your veterinarian.
Other tips for canine motion sickness are to give your dog a ginger snap cookie and have her travel on an empty stomach. Dogs can outgrow the problem as they get used to car travel.
Natural Remedies and Dog Stomach Problems
If you dog has persistent stomach problems, one option might be to try a herbal supplement. When your dog isn’t eating right it could result in digestive imbalance. Herbs also act as a substitute to things in your dogs diet that might be missing. .There are several natural herbs that have been shown to support the stomach lining and digestive tract. These include:
- Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice): associated with support of the lining of the digestive tract. It also helps with bowels.(Arase Y, Ikeda K, Murashima N, et al. “The long term efficacy of glycyrrhizin in chronic hepatitis C patients”. Cancer 1997;79(8):1494-1500.)
- Ulmus fulva (slippery elm): common herb used to support digestive health (DeHaan RL. Home remedies for pets. J Am Holistic Veterinary Med Assoc 1994;12:26.)
- Althaea officinalis (marshmallow): sooths the mucous membranes and the digestive tract lining.
One product worth researching and discussing with your veterinarian for dog stomach problems is PetAlive Digestive Support . It is made specifically to support the digestive system.
You can also see our tips on diet for dog health stomach.
References for Dog Stomach Problems:
Hound Health Handbook Brevitz, Betsy DVM
Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook Eldredge, Debra,; Carlson, Liisa; Carlson, Delbert; Giffin, James
Originally posted and graciously shared by the Dog Health Guide