Gastroenteritis in dogs refers to the inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, specifically the stomach and intestines.
Dogs with gastroenteritis have difficulty digesting food and may experience abdominal pain. Learn the causes and symptoms of gastroenteritis and find a suitable treatment for your dog.
Gastroenteritis in Dogs Causes
Gastroenteritis can manifest due to various reasons. Here are some common causes of gastroenteritis in dogs:
- Ingestion of foreign bodies
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
- Liver, pancreatic, or kidney diseases
- Intestinal blockage or injury
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Tumours or cancer
Types of Gastroenteritis in Dogs
There are two types of gastroenteritis in dogs: acute and chronic.
Acute gastroenteritis in dogs is the sudden onset of gastroenteritis. This may happen once, unprompted, and only lasts for a short time. In some cases, it may even go away on its own. However, the condition can worsen over time without proper treatment.
Canine chronic gastroenteritis can last for weeks, months, or even years. Sometimes it may also be recurrent. This means that an underlying health problem may be the cause.
Gastroenteritis in dogs symptoms
Dogs with gastroenteritis may experience intermittent episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting. Other symptoms include the following:
- Pasty and softer excrementMost dogs with gastroenteritis will defecate about 3 to 6 times a day. His faeces will have a soft and pasty consistency. It may also be accompanied by abdominal pain and low-grade fever.
- Yellowish or foamy vomitThe colour of the vomit hints that it comes from bile, a digestive fluid made by the liver. This is a clear indicator that helps dog owners distinguish gastroenteritis from other kinds of stomach problems.
- Loss of appetite and weightBecause of a painful stomach and episodic vomiting, a dog with gastroenteritis will most likely lose his appetite, which could lead to weight loss.
What is haemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs?
Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) in dogs is also known as acute haemorrhagic diarrhoea syndrome. Characterised by sudden vomiting and bloody diarrhoea, HGE is much more severe and can be fatal.
Unlike acute gastroenteritis, HGE is an idiopathic condition. This means that the cause of HGE is unknown, although some believe that the same factors in acute gastroenteritis trigger it.
HGE can cause dogs to suffer from pancreatitis, other life-threatening diseases, and even death if not given immediate treatment. Dogs with this condition will show the following signs:
- Considerable amounts of blood in the stool
- Bloody residue from his rectum
- Stomach or intestinal pain
- Chunks of gelatinous bloody fluid
HGE can affect dogs of any age or breed. However, small and toy dog breeds are more vulnerable to this disease than their larger counterparts.
Is gastroenteritis in dogs contagious to other dogs?
Gastroenteritis is not a contagious disease; however, the cause of gastroenteritis can be infectious. If bacteria, virus, or parasite cause it, it can be passed on to other dogs who come into contact with the infected faeces or fluids.
Proper hygiene should be practised to prevent this. Be sure to clean up and dispose of your dog’s stool after he defecates. Keep him from chewing on random things he finds in your home or during your walks.
Gastroenteritis in dogs diagnosis
Gastroenteritis in dogs diagnosis entails using the process of elimination. The vet needs to rule out serious causes of your dog’s symptoms before he makes any conclusions. That’s because the clinical signs of gastroenteritis may be linked to or caused by other health diseases.
The diagnosis will start with the vet checking your dog’s medical history. Then, a physical exam will be carried out. Other tests may be recommended as well to ensure the accuracy of the diagnosis. They may include:
- UrinalysisIt is used to spot kidney diseases, urinary tract infections (UTI), and dehydration.
- Abdominal x-raysLooks for possible intestinal blockage and other irregularities in the abdominal area.
- Abdominal ultrasoundAn imaging test that examines the organs in the abdomen. These include the kidney, liver, spleen, pancreas, and gallbladder.
- Complete blood cell count (CBC)A blood test that detects infection, anaemia, and other signs of illness.
- Serum chemistries and electrolytesIdentifies any organ abnormalities and checks electrolyte balance.
Gastroenteritis in dogs treatment
The primary purpose of the veterinary treatment is to rehydrate and restore the blood electrolyte balance. The vet may prescribe medication and other veterinary care necessary to achieve successful treatment for severe gastroenteritis in dogs:
- Intravenous (IV) fluids
- Oral fluid replacement medications
- Gastrointestinal protectants
- Antidiarrhoeal drugs
- Drugs to stop the vomiting
What to do during your dog’s recovery from gastroenteritis?
You may need to withhold giving your dog food for at least 24 hours. Make sure to provide him with enough water to make sure he is adequately hydrated.
Your dog’s vomiting and diarrhoea may gradually cease after a few days. When this happens, consider giving him a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice. This will keep his GI tract from functioning too hard.
Most cases of gastroenteritis in dogs are mild so they can make a full recovery. However, it is essential to closely monitor your dog whilst recuperating. Pay attention if he shows additional symptoms.
If there are no positive changes in his condition, bring him to the vet for assessment.
Dog gastroenteritis home treatment
Mild gastroenteritis is highly treatable and can be managed at home. Here are a few things you can do to care for a dog with gastroenteritis:
- Contact your vet. Inform him of your dog’s condition and the steps you are planning to take to treat it. Ask for advice on what other measures you can do to help your dog recover.
- Keep him from doing excessive exercise to prevent aggravating his condition.
- Feed your dog a temporary bland diet for a few days.
- Add easily digestible fibre to his food such as canned pumpkin.
- Consider putting electrolyte supplement to his water to keep his body well-hydrated.
How to prevent gastroenteritis in dogs?
Gastroenteritis may be easily treatable if given immediate treatment, but prevention is always better than cure. Below are some tips to prevent gastroenteritis in dogs:
- Be mindful of what your dog eats or drinks. Do not let your dog eat anything he finds at home or during walks. Training your dog the command ‘leave it’ will stop him from eating food or nibbling on objects. Make sure to keep human food away from your dog’s reach.
- Avoid sudden change in your dog’s diet. If you are planning to change his food, do it gradually. Doing so will prevent stomach upset and other digestive problems.
- Gastroenteritis can be a symptom of a more serious health problem. This can be caused by highly contagious bacteria or viruses such as canine parvovirus. Protect him by getting him vaccinated.
- The presence of parasites, such as worms, in his digestive tract, can cause gastroenteritis. Thus, be sure to regularly administer antiparasitic medications to get rid of worms, ticks, and fleas.