Common Gastrointestinal Problems

Different breeds are prone to different problems, and your dog's age may also contribute to his gastrointestinal distress.

Acute Gastritis

Acute gastritis is a sudden onset of inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach. Dogs with gastric irritation will first vomit their stomach contents and later vomit clear or yellow fluid, which is mucus or bile. This will usually last less than seven days.

Eating large bone fragments that are indigestible may cause acute gastritis. This happens to dogs that are not accustomed to eating bones. Only give your dog large raw bones with extra B vitamins. This adds adequate stomach acid to aid digestion. Always supervise; if your dog persists in swallowing large bone segments, he probably shouldn't have them.

Dogs that are homeless or who are allowed to roam free are likely to suffer from acute gastritis at one time or another. They dig through the trash or compost piles or ingest dead animals. Young dogs are more apt to suffer from gastritis than senior dogs because they are often fond of checking out the trash. Gastritis can also be brought on by ingesting foreign bodies, plant material, hair, or by overeating. Chemical irritants or toxins, such as fertilizers, cleaning agents, or lead, will also cause acute gastritis, as will food allergies or dietary intolerance. Inflammatory bowel disease and stomach cancer can also cause this problem, although the symptoms will usually persist.

Swallowing foreign objects such as small toys may be a serious problem because they can cause an obstruction of the intestines and cause gastritis.

Chronic Gastritis

The signs of chronic gastritis are intermittent vomiting for at least one to two weeks. Be on the lookout for excessive vomiting with digested blood that resembles coffee grounds, lack of appetite, weakness, weight loss, diarrhea, and black tarry stool, which also signifies digested blood. To treat this condition your veterinarian will want to determine the cause of the illness, restore and maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the dog's GI system, and rest the gastrointestinal tract.

Megaesophagus

When a puppy or adult dog repeatedly regurgitates immediately after eating or a few hours later, megaesophagus may be the culprit and should be ruled out by a veterinarian.

Megaesophagus is a common congenital problem in puppies that causes weakening and enlargement of part of or the entire esophagus. Miniature Schnauzers, Great Danes, and Dalmatians are at increased risk of the congenital form of megaesophagus, whereas German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Irish Setters may be at increased risk for the acquired form.

It is not known why some dogs are born with megaesophagus. When a dog develops megaesophagus later in life it may be due to myasthenia gravis, Addison's disease, hypothyroidism, generalized neuropathy, or myopathies. Feeding the dog on an elevated platform is the only treatment for the congenital form. Prognosis is poor due to the risk of pneumonia from inhaling food into the lungs. Sadly, pups are often euthanized.

  1. Home
  2. Natural Health for Dogs
  3. Gastrointestinal Problems
  4. Common Gastrointestinal Problems
Visit other About.com sites: