Gastritis in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

gastritis in dogs

Gastritis in dogs is a common condition that can cause discomfort and pain in your dog. As pet owners, it’s important to understand the symptoms and causes of gastritis, as well as the best ways to prevent and treat it.

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about canine gastritis, from its symptoms and causes to the most effective treatments and preventative measures. Whether you’re a seasoned pet owner or a new dog parent, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

What Is Gastritis In Dogs?

Gastritis is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal lining (the gastric mucosa). The gastric mucosa is a thick membrane layer that protects the stomach lining from the stomach acids. If the stomach acids can get through the damaged mucosal layer and reach the gastrointestinal lining, your dog may show clinical signs, including abdominal pain, decreased appetite, vomiting or diarrhea. There are two 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

Acute gastritis in dogs is the most common type of gastrointestinal inflammation. In fact, it can be over before you realize your dog is sick. It’s self-limiting and dogs usually recover in less than 24 hours. It’s difficult to determine the cause of acute gastritis because most acute cases resolve 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

If your dog has gastritis for more than 7 days, it’s considered as chronic gastritis. Chronic gastritis is typically seen persistent vomiting, excessive 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 and gastric ulceration. Chronic gastritis can also be a sign of other health issues, so you want to get to the bottom of it before it becomes serious.

Atrophic Gastritis

This is a subset of chronic gastritis. Atrophic gastritis can develop from untreated chronic gastritis. The damage to the stomach lining caused by gastric acid can lead to ulcers, infections, and long-term digestive issues. 

Common Causes Of Gastritis In Dogs

Gastritis in dogs can be triggered by various factors. Understanding these causes is key to preventing and managing this common canine ailment. Here are the common culprits:

  1. Dietary Indiscretion: This is a fancy term for when dogs eat things they shouldn’t. Garbage gut, spoiled food, cat litter or any non-food items like toys or socks can all cause acute gastritis. Dogs are curious and often eat first, ask questions later!
  2. Food Intolerance or Allergies: Just like humans, dogs can have food allergy or intolerance to certain foods. This can irritate their stomach lining, leading to gastritis. Common allergens include certain proteins, grains, or additives in dog food.
  3. Ingestion of Irritants: This includes chemicals, toxic plants, or medications that aren’t suited for dogs. Medications like aspirin or antibiotics can cause stomach upset in dogs.
  4. Infections: Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections can all lead to gastritis. For example, a common bacterium called Helicobacter pylori is known to cause stomach issues in dogs.
  5. Stress: Believe it or not, emotional stress can manifest physically in dogs, sometimes as gastritis. This can be due to major changes in their environment or routine.
  6. Chronic Diseases: Certain chronic conditions like kidney disease or liver problems can have gastritis as a secondary symptom.
  7. Intestinal Parasites: Worms or other parasitic infection in your dog’s digestive system can cause gastrointestinal upset.
  8. Spoiled Food: Consuming spoiled or contaminated food can lead to an upset stomach.
  9. Toxins: Ingestion of toxins, such as certain plants, chemicals, or human foods like chocolate or xylitol (a sweetener), can cause acute gastritis.

Each dog is an individual, and their response to these triggers can vary. The key to managing and preventing gastritis is to keep a close eye on your dog’s diet, environment, and stress levels. If you suspect your dog is suffering from gastritis, especially if the symptoms are severe or persistent, it’s important to consult with a holistic care professional for appropriate guidance and treatment. Remember, timely intervention can make a big difference in your dog’s health and well-being!

Symptoms of Dog Gastritis

Gastritis in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors like eating spoiled food, infections, or even long-term use of certain medications. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:

Vomiting: This is the most common sign. Your dog might vomit food, yellow bile, or even just foam. Sometimes, the vomit might even have blood in it, which definitely warrants immediate attention. There may be intermittent vomiting or chronic vomiting.

Decreased Appetite: If your dog is turning their nose up at food or eating much less than usual, it could be a sign of discomfort due to gastritis in dogs.

Lethargy: If your usually playful pooch is now listless and showing a lack of energy, it could be another indicator.

Dehydration: This can occur as a result of vomiting and reduced water intake. Look out for signs like dry gums and a loss of skin elasticity.

Abdominal Pain and Discomfort: You might notice your dog whining or showing signs of discomfort, like reluctance to move or being touched around the abdomen. This may be caused by gastric distention.

Diarrhea: Sometimes, gastritis can also cause diarrhea, which may or may not accompany vomiting.

Increased Drooling: Excessive drooling can sometimes occur if your dog is feeling nauseous.

It’s important to note that while these symptoms can point towards gastritis, they aren’t exclusive to it. There are other types of inflammatory bowel disease and health issues that can cause similar signs, so it’s always best to observe your dog closely and check with your vet.

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.

Managing Gastritis In Dogs 

Gastritis, particularly the acute kind, often resolves on its own, but there are proactive steps you can take to comfort your dog and support their recovery. Here’s how to manage acute gastritis for most dogs:

Withhold Food: Give your dog’s digestive system a rest by fasting them for 24 to 48 hours. This break can significantly help calm an inflamed gastric mucosa and reset the digestive tract.

Hydration is Key: Throughout the fasting period, ensure your dog has constant access to fresh water. Offer water in small, frequent amounts during the first 24 hours. If your dog struggles to keep water down, consult your vet about administering subcutaneous fluid therapy at home to keep them hydrated.

Gentle Reintroduction of Food: After a successful 24-hour period without vomiting, you can reintroduce a bland diet. Start with small portions of highly digestible and soothing foods including lightly cooked chicken (without skin or bones), pureed pumpkin (not pie filling), a scrambled or boiled egg or nourishing bone broth. These foods are gentle on the stomach and easy to digest.

Gradual Return to Regular Diet: Once your dog tolerates these foods, start transitioning back to their regular dog food. Initially, offer half of their normal daily food quantity, divided into 4-6 small meals throughout the day. This approach helps prevent overburdening the stomach and maintains a steady digestive process.

Incremental Increase in Food Quantity: Over the following days, gradually increase the food amount, monitoring your dog’s reaction. If there are no signs of discomfort or vomiting, you can slowly return to their normal feeding routine and portion sizes.

Monitor and Observe: Keep a close eye on your dog’s overall behavior and stool quality during this recovery period. Any persistent symptoms or changes in behavior warrant a consultation with your vet.

Long-Term Dietary Considerations: If your dog experiences frequent or chronic gastritis, consider veterinary treatment. Your vet may recommend probiotics, test for food allergies or a change in diet might be beneficial.

Veterinary Intervention

Most dogs recover from acute gastritis with little intervention. If your dog is showing clinical signs for more than a few days, your vet may want to do some blood tests or an abdominal ultrasound to determine an underlying cause.

Your vet may recommend proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid, but colitis isn’t caused by increased gastric acid secretion. Typically, gastritis is caused by a damaged gastric mucosa, which allows stomach acids to cause gastric ulceration and irritation. It’s also worth noting that long-term use can lead to risk of kidney disease, osteoporosis, pneumonia, stroke and greater susceptibility to bacterial infections. Your vet may also recommend Pepto Bismol but these meds aren’t safe and just treat the symptoms, not the actual cause of canine gastritis. 

Whether you seek medical intervention or not, there are ways you can manage gastritis and the underlying causes with safe, natural options.

Food Choices for Chronic Gastritis in Dogs

When tackling chronic gastritis in dogs, adopting a long-term dietary strategy becomes crucial to minimize stomach discomfort. For dogs eating raw food, lightly cooking their food can prevent potential bacterial issues. Offering small, frequent meals also helps ease the load on your dog’s digestive system.

Here are more dietary tips to help you manage your dog’s chronic gastritis:

  1. Opt for Low-Fat Foods: Incorporating low-fat options in your dog’s diet reduces stress on the liver and gallbladder, helping with smoother digestion.
  2. Skip the Salt: High salt intake can hike blood pressure and burden the kidneys. It’s best to avoid salt in your dog’s meals or snacks.
  3. Steer Clear of Dairy Products: Many dogs are lactose intolerant, so dairy products can exacerbate stomach issues. It’s wise to keep dairy off the menu.
  4. Prevent Dehydration Creatively: Encourage your dog to stay hydrated. Offering unsalted broth or soup can entice your dog to drink more water, keeping dehydration at bay.
  5. Incorporate Nutritious Bone Broth: Bone broth is a fantastic source of essential vitamins and minerals, making it a wholesome addition to your dog’s diet.
  6. Choose Moisture-Rich, Lean Meats: Feeding your dog moisture-rich, lean, unprocessed meats or poultry supports their overall health.
  7. Cook Meats Gently: Slightly cooking or boiling meat and poultry enhances digestibility while retaining nutritional value.
  8. Avoid Rice: Although you might think rice is a safe bland food, rice usually contains arsenic, which is a significant threat to your dog’s overall health.
  9. Purée or Lightly Cook Produce: Enhance the digestibility of fruits and vegetables by puréeing or lightly cooking them before serving.
  10. Embrace Fiber-Rich Foods: Foods rich in fiber offer antioxidants, aid in digestion, cleanse the gut, and regulate bowel movements.

Dogs with chronic gastritis will need a highly digestible diet as a long-term approach to ease stomach trauma. If you feed your dog a raw food, you should lightly cook your dog’s food to prevent bacterial issues. Feeding small, frequent amounts will also relieve the burden on the digestive system.

Useful Herbs for Canine Gastritis

Herbs can be a gentle and effective way to support dogs with chronic or acute gastritis and aid in healing the mucosal lining of their stomach. Here are some of the most useful herbs for this purpose:

Slippery Elm: Slippery elm is a top choice for digestive issues. It contains mucilage, a substance that forms a soothing film over mucous membranes, helping to protect irritated tissues in the stomach and intestines. It’s particularly helpful for reducing inflammation and soothing the digestive tract.

Marshmallow Root: Similar to slippery elm, marshmallow root contains mucilage and helps in soothing and protecting the stomach lining. It’s beneficial for reducing irritation and inflammation in the digestive tract.

Licorice Root (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice – DGL): DGL is a form of licorice that doesn’t contain glycyrrhizin, which can cause side effects like increased blood pressure. DGL supports the stomach and intestines, helping to repair the stomach lining and ease inflammation.

Chamomile: Well-known for its calming properties, chamomile can also soothe the digestive system. It helps relax the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract, reducing inflammation and aiding in the healing process.

Ginger: Not just a simple spice, ginger can help reduce inflammation and nausea. It’s beneficial for dogs with gastritis as it can help calm the stomach and improve digestion.

Supporting the Gastric Mucosa With Probiotics

Probiotics play a significant role in managing gastritis in dogs, offering several benefits to improve gut health and alleviate discomfort. Here’s how they work:

Restore Gut Flora Balance: Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria to the dog’s gut. These good bacteria help balance the gut microbiome, which can be disrupted during gastritis, leading to symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.

Reduce Inflammation: Probiotics actively reduce gastrointestinal inflammation. By promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria, they help calm inflamed stomach lining, which is a key issue in gastritis.

Enhance Digestive Function: Probiotics aid in digestion by helping to break down food more effectively. This improved digestion means less stress on the stomach, easing gastritis symptoms.

Boost Immune System Health: A large portion of a dog’s immune system is housed in their gut. Probiotics strengthen this aspect of the immune system, helping the body to fight off potential causes of gastritis more effectively, such as harmful bacteria or viruses.

Preventing Gastritis In Dogs

Preventing gastritis in dogs involves a holistic approach, focusing on diet, gut health and a clean living environment. Here’s how you can actively prevent this condition in your canine friend:

Feed Fresh, High-Quality Foods: Prioritize fresh, whole foods in your dog’s diet. This means incorporating lean meats, healthy fats, and digestible fibers from fruits and vegetables. Fresh, raw foods are less likely to irritate your dog’s stomach compared to processed foods.

Maintain Proper Gut Health: Support your dog’s gut health by including probiotics and prebiotics in their diet. These supplements boost beneficial gut bacteria, promoting a healthy digestive system which is less prone to gastritis.

Avoid Unnecessary Drugs and Chemicals: Be cautious with medications and avoid overuse. Many drugs, like painkillers and antibiotics, can disrupt your dog’s stomach health. 

Ensure a Safe Environment: Keep your dog’s environment free from hazards like toxic plants, human foods that are harmful to dogs (like chocolate, grapes and onions), and chemicals. This reduces the risk of your dog eating something harmful that could lead to gastritis.

Manage Stress: Just like in humans, stress can affect a dog’s gut health. Provide a stable, calming environment, regular exercise, and mental stimulation to keep your dog’s stress levels low.

By taking these proactive steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of gastritis in your dog, ensuring they lead a healthier, happier life. Remember, each dog is unique, so tailoring these approaches to fit your dog’s specific needs is key.


What is gastritis in dogs?

Gastritis in dogs is an inflammation of the stomach lining that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

What are the common causes of gastritis in dogs?

The common causes of gastritis in dogs include dietary indiscretion, bacterial or viral infections, ingestion of toxins, and stress.

How is gastritis in dogs diagnosed?

Gastritis in dogs is diagnosed through a physical examination, blood tests, fecal tests, and imaging tests such as X-rays or ultrasound.

Can gastritis in dogs be prevented?

Gastritis in dogs can be prevented by feeding a balanced diet with fresh foods, maintaining a healthy gut balance, keeping toxic substances out of reach and reducing stress in the dog’s environment.

When should I take my dog to the vet for gastritis?

You should take your dog to the vet if they are experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or other symptoms of gastritis that last for more than 24 hours or if they appear to be in pain or distress.

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.

5 minutes a day. Healthier Dog.

Get important health plans from vets & experts. It’s natural and it’s free.


Get instant access to easy-to-make and affordable recipes. Plus get new recipes delivered right to your inbox.

Recipe Cards for Making Raw Dog Food

Related Posts