Gastritis refers to the irritation and inflammation or infection of the stomach lining.
Since the stomach secretes strong acids for the digestion of food, it is not difficult to imagine that a dog will feel discomfort and pain if his stomach lining is irritated or inflamed.
Gastritis in dogs can occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or it can occur on and off over a period of time (chronic gastritis).
Causes of Gastritis in Dogs
Acute gastritis is usually caused by eating spoiled food and other things that are indigestable or disagreeable with the stomach, such as grass, hair, garbage, etc.
Ingestion of poisonous substances such as antifreeze, fertilizers, weed killer, etc. can also cause acute gastritis.
Some drugs, mostly notably NSAIDS and corticosteroids, can cause stomach irritation and inflamation as well.
Chronic gastritis is commonly caused by a food allergy.
It may also be caused by prolonged use of NSAIDs or other drugs.
Other less common causes of chronic gastritis are repeated ingestion of grass, chemicals or toxins.
Some types of chronic gastritis are the result of underlying health issues such as an immune problem or a congenital problem.
Symptoms of Gastritis in Dogs
The classic symptom of gastritis is vomiting.
A dog with acute gastritis vomits shortly after eating. He may also belch and feel nauseated. He looks weak and lethargic.
A dog with chronic gastritis vomits from time to time over a period of days or even weeks.
The vomitus may contain foreign material and food eaten the day before.
Also, the dog becomes weak and lethargic as he suffers from appetite loss and weight loss. He may also have a dull hair coat.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Gastritis in Dogs
Diagnosis is based on observation of the symptoms, physical examination and tests such as blood and urine tests, feces analysis, and x-rays.
Endoscopic examination (gastroscopy) with a biopsy of the stomach is a quick way to make a diagnosis of chronic gastritis.
Acute gastritis is usually not serious and the dog will get better on his own in one or two days.
To help the stomach rest and recover, fast the dog by withholding food and water for 12 hours. During the 12 hours, if vomiting stops, give the dog a few ice chips to lick every three to four hours.
If vomiting has discontinued after 12 hours, give the dog a little water to drink and some bland food (e.g. 2 parts boiled rice and 1 part boiled chicken).
Chronic gastritis should be under the care of a veterinarian and the underlying cause should be identified and dealt with.
Conventional treatment of chronic gastritis involves the use of antacids such as Tagamet or stomach-soothing medications such as Pepto-Bismol.
Depending on the cause of the stomach problem, the vet may recommend a change of diet either temporarily or permanently.
You should take your doggie to the vet if:
- Vomiting continues despite food and water are withheld
- Vomiting recurs when food and water are reintroduced
- The vomitus contains blood
- The dog looks weak and dehydrated
- The dog has a fever of over 103°F
Honey for Mild Gastritis in Dogs
If your dog has a bout of mild acute gastritis, consider giving him Manuka honey. This honey has powerful antibacterial properties. Just add a teaspoon of the honey to the dog’s drinking water. Be sure to use Manuka honey with a UMF rating of at least 10 to be effective.