What is Gastritis in Dogs
Gastritis is derived from the Greek word “gastro” which means “of the stomach” and “-itis” meaning inflammation. The term gastritis is defined as inflammation of the gastric mucosa.
Gastritis can be categorized as acute or chronic. The condition is often associated with conditions that can be much more harmful.
Knowing the symptoms of gastritis can help pet owners prevent further ailments from arising as well as treat the underlying causes before they become too severe.
What Causes Inflammation
In the most general terms, inflammation is a localized, physical condition where the body becomes swollen, reddened, and painful. Injury or infection most often cause inflammation.
Regarding stomach inflammation or gastritis, the inflammation can be due to infection or injury to the stomach lining by means of a foreign body entering.
We’ll get into all those details shortly.
Types of Gastritis
There are two types of gastritis: acute or chronic. Acute gastritis and chronic gastritis share symptoms, yet vary in duration and often in the underlying cause of gastritis.
What is Chronic Gastritis
Chronic gastritis refers to intermittent vomiting caused by inflammation of the stomach that has lasted over one week.
Chronic gastritis is a common condition in dogs affecting both males and females of all ages.
A dog with chronic gastritis has a damaged mucous lining of the intestinal wall which leads to a weakened immune system. Chronic gastritis can also lead to gastrointestinal obstructions due to blockage of the small or large intestines.
What Causes Chronic Gastritis
The causes of chronic gastritis differ from those of acute gastritis. The causes of chronic gastritis are commonly long-term exposure to whatever is causing the stomach inflammation.
Consumption Things That Shouldn’t Be Consumed
Long-term consumption of the following things that should not be consumed can result in chronic gastritis:
- Rotten foods/trash
- Non-food items
- Eating too much over a prolonged period
- Eating foods that the dog has an allergy or intolerance to
Exposure to Toxicities
Long-term exposure to the following toxicities can lead to chronic gastritis:
- Household cleaning supplies
- Chemical irritants
- Infectious agents
Long-term Medication Use
Chronic gastritis can occur due to long-term usages of different medications particularly if the drug contains aspirin, steroids, or antibiotics.
Aspirin, steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics can cause lesions in the mucosa lining and make the body more susceptible to developing chronic gastritis.
Illnesses Leading to Chronic Gastritis
The following illnesses are known to lead to chronic gastritis:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Parasitic infections
- Stomach cancer
- Kidney failure
- Liver disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Neurological disease
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome
Breeds Affected by Chronic Gastritis
Long-term (chronic) gastritis most often affects older, small breed dogs. The breeds commonly affected are Lhasa Apsos, Shih-tzus, and Miniature Poodles.
Additionally, chronic gastritis can affect large breed dogs such as Basenjis and the Drentse Patrijshond.
What is Acute Gastritis
Acute gastritis refers to severe vomiting and decreased appetite that is generally short-lived. While acute gastritis usually lasts less than 24 hours although symptoms lasting up to seven days is still considered acute gastritis. However, after seven days the diagnosis changes to chronic gastritis.
Due to the fact that acute gastritis is short-lived, the cause is not often discovered because the symptoms usually resolve by the time the dog sees a veterinarian.
What Causes Acute Gastritis
Acute gastritis occurs relatively frequently in dogs as they tend to have a love for eating things that they should not be eating.
Similarly to chronic gastritis, acute gastritis involves the same culprits of consumption including:
- Rotten foods
- Non-food items
- Cat litter
- Foreign objects
As well are comparable toxins such as:
- Human food scraps
Luckily, acute gastritis generally passes within one to three days with the appropriate treatment. Even though the underlying cause of the acute gastritis is not often discovered, the prognosis is usually always good.
Symptoms of gastritis are nearly identical whether your dog has acute gastritis or chronic gastritis.
The most common symptom of gastritis is acute vomiting.
Vomiting differs from regurgitation in vomiting is involuntary and involves abdominal contractions which can be very painful for the dog.
The vomit is commonly yellow and foamy from the bile. You may also see green-stained vomit containing undigested foods. If you see blood that is fresh and red in color or digested blood that looks like a “coffee ground” substance, veterinary intervention is needed right away.
Additional clinical symptoms of gastritis include:
Anorexia (decreased appetite)
Inflammation of the stomach causes anorexia. Withholding food for the first day or two of acute gastritis is often a recommendation to follow. However, if after the withholding period, your dog doesn’t begin to replenish its body, it is possible for additional issues to develop. Keep a close eye on your dog during this period as a veterinarian may need to administer necessary nutrients intravenously.
Pain in Stomach
Abdominal pain is a clinical sign of gastritis (among other conditions). Since the abdominal pain severity can vary greatly and your dog isn’t able to tell you their pain level, it is important to keep an eye on their mannerisms and movements. A telling sign is a dog hunching its back as a result of abdominal pain.
Dehydration or increased thirst is a typical symptom of excessive vomiting or diarrhea. Pet owners should make sure their dog is getting ample amounts of fluids. Veterinary intervention may be necessary in order to avoid further dehydration for occurring.
Lethargy or Depression
A dog acting lethargic or depressed when accompanied by other signs are common symptoms of gastritis. This is due to the dog’s body ridding itself not only of the harmful substances but also nutrients needed for energy. Therefore, your dog will most likely seem not like themselves until they get well.
Stomach Problems and Gastrointestinal Problems
Issues such as diarrhea are usually seen alongside excessive vomiting. The dog’s body is attempting to rid itself of whatever harmful substances are causing them to be sick. Diarrhea and vomiting may coincide with physical cramping of the abdomen.
Pytalism, also known as excessive drooling or salivation of the mouth, may be a sign that the dog consumed toxins.
Weight loss often results from excessive vomiting and diarrhea as well as the loss of appetite the dog is temporarily experiencing. If the weight loss becomes severe, consulting with your veterinarian to get your dog back on track will be necessary.
Black, Tarry Stools or Bloody Stools
Irregular, bloody stools are common in conjunction with excessive diarrhea. If your dog’s stool is black or has blood in it, a veterinary visit is necessary right away as this can be a sign of anemia.
Burning Sensation in Stomach
A burning sensation in the stomach is a clinical sign of acute and chronic gastritis in humans. It most commonly occurs after consuming common pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen (as well as other anti-inflammatory drugs). While dogs aren’t able to relay their symptoms, specialists believe that dogs would most likely experience a comparable burning sensation.
Diagnosing Gastritis in Dogs
As we briefly mentioned, it is not uncommon for acute gastritis to go underdiagnosed, or at the very least, the underlying cause of the gastritis is not determined. This is due to the fact that the condition usually only lasts a day or two. By the time pet owners get in to see their veterinarian, the symptoms have subsided.
On the other hand, diagnosing chronic gastritis is possible. If your dog is experiencing any symptoms of the condition, it is important to seek medical attention in order to diagnose the underlying cause and prevent further issues from occurring.
Veterinarians will perform a number of tests on the dog including:
- Chemical blood profile
- Complete blood count
The blood work itself will show the veterinarian crucial information such as:
- How dehydrated the dog is
- How much blood the dog has lost
- Whether the disease is long-term
- If the disease is due to a weakened immune system
- Whether the disease a secondary condition to liver disease
- If the dog has stomach ulcers
- Whether the dog has some other disease that is causing the inflammation of the stomach and stomach lining
These tests will help the veterinarian reach an accurate diagnosis.
If chronic gastritis goes without treatment, atrophic gastritis can occur. Atrophic gastritis refers to an end state of gastritis when chronic inflammation causes severe thinning of the stomach lining as well as creating substantial damage to the glands that produce stomach acid.
What Causes Atrophic Gastritis
There is not one underlying cause of atrophic gastritis that has been identified at this point. Veterinarians believe it to be the end state of other gastritis related conditions. Atrophic gastritis occurs more often in older dogs who have acid reflux disease.
Gastritis Treatment & Gastritis Diet
Treatment for gastritis will be based around restoring electrolytes and fluids to your dog. At times, an IV and medication such as anti-vomiting medication, gastrointestinal protectants, and proton pump inhibitors may be necessary in order to get your dog back to their natural state.
In terms of a gastritis diet, your veterinarian may advise you to withhold food and water for the first phase of treatment.
Pet owners will slowly reintroduce things like ice chips and eventually a bland, low-fat diet. Every treatment plan will vary. It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s advice to ensure your dog receives the proper care it needs.
Gastritis is not only manageable but also many times preventable. We know that you’re not always able to watch your dog’s every move. However, simple changes like making sure the trash bin is out of reach and confirming there aren’t any small, chewable objects on the floor are great steps in the right direction.
Knowing that your beloved pup isn’t feeling well is a stressful feeling for a pet owner. Dogs don’t tend to complain about much. It’s important to remember that if something seems “off,” it probably is.
Being aware of your dog’s “normal” and acting appropriately whenever necessary will help ensure that (wo)man’s best friend lives a long, happy life.