If your dog has a sudden bout of vomiting, decreased appetite and lethargy, he could have gastritis.
What Is Gastritis In Dogs?
Gastritis means inflammation of the gastrointestinal lining. There are 2 main types of gastritis in dogs. The symptoms are similar but it’s the duration of the attack and the severity of symptoms that define each type.
Acute Gastritis In Dogs
Acute gastritis in dogs is the most common. It can be over before you realize your dog is sick. It’s self-limiting and your dog usually recovers in less than 24 hours. However, even if your dog is out of sorts and gastritis lasts for a week, it’s still known as acute gastritis. It’s difficult to determine the cause because your dog is usually better before any testing is needed.
You’ll know if your dog’s prone to getting into the garbage or chewing up toys, both which can cause gastritis in dogs. A new medication or change in food can also cause short-term gastritis. Knowing your dog and his habits is the first step to being able to avoid gastritis in the future.
Chronic Gastritis In Dogs
If your dog has gastritis for more than 7 days, it’s considered chronic. That includes digestive issues, vomiting, or any of the other symptoms described below.
The problem with chronic gastritis is that if it’s left untreated for too long, it can cause serious intestinal damage, including stomach bleeding. Chronic gastritis can be a sign of other illnesses, so you want to get to the bottom of it before it becomes serious.
Atrophic Gastritis in Dogs
This is a subset of chronic gastritis. Atrophic gastritis can develop from untreated chronic gastritis. The damage to the stomach lining can lead to ulcers, infections, and long-term digestive issues.
Causes Of Gastritis In Dogs
There are many causes for gastritis in dogs. It can be from a lifelong poor diet, or a one-time raid of the garbage can. Here are some common causes of gastritis in dogs.
Overeating can lead to gastritis. Spoiled food, foods high in fat or dairy can cause gastritis in dogs. A change in food can also result in gastritis.
2. Allergy Or Sensitivity
Your dog could have an allergy or intolerance to a certain food or ingredient. Environmental allergens can also cause gastritis in dogs.
3. Household Chemicals And Medications
Household cleaners, detergents, fragrances and air fresheners can cause gastritis in dogs. Your dog is much more sensitive to smells and fragrances than you are, and can react to them in many ways including with a gastritis attack. Medications and supplements may also cause gastritis in dogs, but there are some supplements like probiotics that can alleviate them. Salted sidewalks and roads in winter can also lead to gastritis since your dog may often lick his paws to rid them of salt.
4. Garbage Gut
Any dog who gets into the garbage or eats something he shouldn’t can develop a case of garbage gut. He may end up eating molds, fungi, spoiled or raw food, leftovers, cat litter, or other things that can lead to acute gastritis. Vomiting is how he clears it from his system and that’s a good thing.
5. Illness Or Disease
Chronic gastritis may actually be a sign of illnesses such as kidney or liver disease.
RELATED: Signs of liver disease in dogs …
Symptoms Of Gastritis In Dogs
Here are signs of gastritis in dogs …
- Sudden vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Weakness and lethargy
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in stool or vomit (from an inflamed stomach)
For chronic cases you might see these signs over time:
- Weight loss
- Poor coat appearance
RELATED: How to manage dog vomiting at home …
How To Test For Gastritis In Dogs
If your dog has acute gastritis, he should recover within a day or so. But if your dog has any symptoms for longer than a week, it could be chronic gastritis or a sign of other illnesses. Your vet may confirm gastritis with blood tests, urinalysis, fecal tests, abdominal X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, or endoscopy.
Treatments For Gastritis In Dogs
Acute gastritis in dogs passes quickly so usually no treatment is needed. Here are some things that can help …
- Fast your dog for 24 to 48 hours.
- Offer water frequently during the first 24 hours. If your dog can’t hold down water, you can ask your vet to give you subcutaneous fluids to give at home.
- After 24 hours without vomiting, you can feed a small amount of a highly-digestible food such as lightly cooked chicken, pureed pumpkin, cooked egg, bone broth or canned salmon.
- Return to regular feedings at half the normal quantity per day, divided into 4-6 meals.
- Slowly increase the amount of food over the next few days.
For chronic gastritis, conventional medical treatment usually includes anti-vomiting, antacid and anti-ulcer medication. Proton pump inhibitors are prescribed to reduce stomach acid but long-term use can lead to risk of kidney disease, osteoporosis, pneumonia, stroke and greater susceptibility to bacterial infections.
Vets may often suggest human drugs like Pepto Bismol but they’re not safe for your dog. And for the most part, these medications just treat the symptoms, not the actual cause of gastritis in dogs.
So it’s important to ask your vet to help determine the root cause of chronic gastritis so you can treat the underlying cause and not just manage the symptoms. A holistic vet is a good choice to to help you with this.
If you discover your dog has underlying kidney or liver issues, there are healthier, safer alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs.
How To Manage Chronic Gastritis In Dogs At Home
Again, treating chronic gastritis will depend on the underlying cause. Dogs with chronic gastritis may need a highly digestible diet as a long-term approach to ease stomach trauma. Lightly cooked foods can help the digestive process. Feed in small amounts to relieve the burden on the digestive system.
Here are steps you can take to help manage your dog’s chronic gastritis:
- Include low fat foods to lower stress on the liver and gallbladder
- Avoid salt that can increase blood pressure and stress the kidneys
- Avoid dairy (many dogs are naturally lactose intolerant)
- Avoid dehydration by enticing your dog to drink by giving broth or unsalted soup
- Feed nutritious bone broth for vitamins and minerals
- Feed moisture-rich, lean unprocessed meat or poultry
- Feed slightly cooked or boiled meat or poultry
- Avoid rice which can be contaminated with arsenic
- Feed organic fruits and vegetables to minimize pesticide risk and reduce toxins
- Purée or lightly cook fruits and vegetables for better digestibility
- Feed fiber-rich foods to provide antioxidants, aid digestion, clean the gut and regulate the bowels
- Give gut-healing herbs like slippery elm or marshmallow root to coat and protect the digestive tract
4 Ways To Prevent Acute Gastritis In Dogs
Good gut health is the key to preventing gastritis in dogs.
- Feed a whole food, raw meat diet
- Avoid processed foods and starchy carbohydrates
- Give probiotics and digestive enzymes
- Avoid pharmaceuticals and use natural remedies for Illness
When it comes to acute gastritis, practice these healthy habits … and make sure your dog’s not getting into trouble with “dietary indiscretion.”
Craig Webb, David C Twedt. Canine gastritis. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, Volume 33, Issue 5, 2003, Pages 969-985
Amorim I, Taulescu MA, et al. Canine Gastric Pathology: A Review. J Comp Pathol. 2016 Jan;154(1):9-37.