Digestive Problems In Dogs: Understanding Gastroenteritis
Mon, April 19, 2021

Digestive Problems In Dogs: Understanding Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis in dogs, as described on the official website of VCA Hospitals, an operator of more than 750 animal hospitals in the US and Canada, is often characterized by vomiting and diarrhea / Photo by: Lindsay Helms via 123RF

 

Gastroenteritis in dogs, as described on the official website of VCA Hospitals, an operator of more than 750 animal hospitals in the US and Canada, is often characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes even without vomiting, the pet might suffer from extra soft, runny, or bloody stool while suffering from gastroenteritis.

Ernest Ward, DVM, has defined gastroenteritis as a medical term referring to the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract -- the stomach and intestines. Bacteria, parasites, viruses, or reactions to medications or new foods may cause gastroenteritis. A dog will usually experience abdominal discomfort or pain, aside from diarrhea, and vomiting when suffering from this condition. 

Symptoms of gastroenteritis in canines

Hills Pet Nutrition, an American pet food company that produces dog and cat foods, mentioned that gastrointestinal problems in canines happen for different reasons. Any one of them can cause your pet to feel discomfort. Pet owners must consider if their pet has eaten something new or has ingested anything other than dog food, as the pet might be allergic or intolerant to it. 

For some dog breeds, like Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Schnauzers, they are said to be more prone to digestive issues. Some symptoms of gastroenteritis in most dogs include intermittent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. A dog might show dry heaving, gagging, or retching behavior after they eat or drink something unfamiliar. Pet owners must also observe if their dog produces large volumes of diarrhea at least three to six times a day. 

Diarrhea is described as having a “soft ice cream” texture and is often pale in color. VCA Hospitals stated that dogs affected with diarrhea will be tender when picked up around the abdomen or resist handling around the stomach and hindquarters. Pet dogs can become less active, have a low-grade fever, and usually appear to have decreased appetite when they are afflicted with gastroenteritis. 

Additionally, as cited in the website called Wag Walking, a pet care company that offers on-demand dog walking through a mobile application, a dog may also suffer from a stomach flu, which is a form of gastroenteritis that happens when a dog contracts a virus. It is best for pet owners to bring their dogs to the veterinarian to rule out other, more serious health conditions. 

Pet owners must consider if their pet has eaten something new or has ingested anything other than dog food, as the pet might be allergic or intolerant to it / Photo by: damedeeso via 123RF

 

Diagnosis

Veterinarians tend to rule out other more serious illnesses before making a diagnosis of gastroenteritis. This includes determining the cause of diarrhea and vomiting, by investigating the dog’s medical history and other associated symptoms. In order to properly diagnose a dog, the pet owner might need to provide the veterinarian with some key information on his pet’s medical history. 

It is also the pet owner’s responsibility to inform the veterinarian about the recent meals that the dog has eaten within the past forty-eight hours. They also need to rule out the dog's possible recent exposure to medications, pesticides, and other chemicals within their home environment. Pet owners must also let their vet know about their dog’s exposure to a new animal or person and previous illnesses with episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. 

The veterinarian might ask for a urinalysis to detect urinary tract infections, kidney disease, dehydration, and urine glucose for diabetes. They might request for abdominal radiographs as well, to search for gastric or intestinal obstructions. Once the proper laboratory tests are completed, a proper diagnosis and treatment may be administered to the dog. Medication may be prescribed once the results point to gastroenteritis as the disease.

Gastroenteritis treatment

Just like humans who suffer from gastrointestinal problems, a dog that suffers from gastroenteritis needs to be rehydrated. It is also important for them to restore blood electrolyte balance (sodium-potassium, and/or chloride). Depending on the degree of dehydration, this fluid replacement can be administered orally, subcutaneously, or intravenously.

Dogs Naturally Magazine, a world-famous community where dog lovers, holistic vets, and dog professionals gather, stated on their website that fasting is an important step for recovery. Many dogs start fasting by themselves once they suffer from a tummy problem. If your dog doesn’t, it’s a good idea to stop feeding them for 12 to 24 hours. However, if they are prone to low blood sugar, give them tiny licks of honey each hour. 

Frequent but small feedings might be prescribed for a speedy recovery, although dogs may not be allowed to take food and water during the initial stages of treatment. Aside from that, the infected dog should be fed bland food. It is going to be easier on their digestive system and it can help prevent more diarrhea. The veterinarian might recommend feeding them white rice and a boiled protein source. 

Research shows that probiotics boost the immune system to support the whole body. They also help build and restore your dog’s gut lining. Feeding them to your dog supports your dog’s mucosal barrier and repairs intestinal cells. 

Veterinarians tend to rule out other more serious illnesses before making a diagnosis of gastroenteritis / Photo by: luckybusiness via 123RF