Gastritis in Dogs

Gastritis is a condition that causes mild to severe stomach inflammation as it damages the lining of the stomach. It is very common among dogs and may cause life-threatening symptoms. Find out the causes, symptoms, treatment options and all about of Gastritis in dogs.

What is Gastritis in Dogs?

Gastritis is counted among the most prevalent digestive disorders that affect domestic dogs. It can occur in both its chronic and acute form.

Types of Gastritis in Dogs

Various types of this condition can be seen in dogs. Most of these types of Canine Gastritis are not contagious. However, scientists suspect some forms to be infectious. The common forms of Canine Gastritis are discussed below:

Hemorrhagic Gastritis

Dogs suffering from Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis are generally hemo-concentrated, which means their packed cell volume is higher than fifty-five percent, with normal plasma and protein concentrations. The hemo-concentration, along with different clinical signs of acute gastritis, allows a veterinarian to make a presumptive diagnosis. Renal or pre-renal Azotemia and Thrombocytopenia may be present in severe cases.

Lymphoplasmacytic Gastritis

Proinflammatory, immunomodulatory cytokines are concurrently activated in this type of Gastritis along with an increased messenger RNA expression which is related to the mucosal pathology.

Reflux Gastritis in Dogs

Reflux Gastritis is characterized by excessive bile (fluid that assists in digestion) secretion which leads to stomach inflammation and vomiting.

Eosinophilic Gastritis

It is a chronic condition in which the white blood cells called eosinophil accumulates in the stomach’s mucous lining. This leads to scarring and thickening of the lining.

Chronic Atrophic Gastritis

This form leads to thinning of the stomach wall, which may result in inflammation and abdominal pain. It is most commonly seen in the Norwegian Buhunds species of dogs and may be caused by an immune problem.

Gastritis in Dogs Causes

The causes of the chronic and acute forms of the condition are slightly different from one another.

Acute Canine Gastritis Causes

The most common cause of this form is the consumption of:

  • Spoiled substances
  • Garbage
  • Caustic household chemicals
  • Toxic plants
  • Fertilizers
  • Rodenticides
  • Antifreeze
  • Various inorganic substances like plastic objects and toys

In some cases, dogs can develop stomach discomfort and inflammation from ingesting stools of other animals. This habit is known as “pica”. Various irritant medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), corticosteroids, aspirin and some antibiotics may also lead to Acute Gastritis.

Chronic Canine Gastritis Causes

Bacterial infection and long-term damage of mucosal lining are among the common causes of Chronic Gastritis. The potential causes of prolonged gastrointestinal inflammation also include ingestion of various indigestible substances such as rubber, plastic, carpet remnants, paper, hairballs and string. These materials can damage the stomach lining by remaining in the stomach instead of passing through the pylorus. Different viral and bacterial infections are also believed to be potential causes of the condition in dogs. A bacteria named Helicobacter pylori, the main cause of Gastritis in humans, is also believed to be able to cause the disease in dogs. However, researchers have not yet found any evidence of these bacteria to be causing Canine Gastritis. Parvovirus may also lead to the condition, especially in puppies that did not receive proper vaccination.

Gastritis in Dogs Symptoms

The condition can give rise to one or more of the following symptoms in affected dogs:

  • Vomiting (sometimes, blood and bile may be present in the vomit)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration (due to fluid loss from excessive vomiting)
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia or loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool (mainly due to stomach ulceration)
  • Dull hair coat
  • Jaundice or yellow mucous membranes
  • Pallor or pale mucous membranes
  • Drooling

In some extremely severe cases, this condition can even cause death of the affected dog.

Diagnosing Gastritis in Dogs

The initial veterinary procedure does not identify any specific cause behind the abdominal discomfort and vomiting of the dog. This stage of diagnosis consists of ruling out as many potential causes of the condition as possible. It is known as making diagnosis of exclusion. The veterinary team tries to narrow down the possible causes behind the symptoms for making it easier to identify the exact cause.

In severe cases of the disease that do not respond well to initial diagnostic tests, the veterinarian usually performs routine urine and blood tests as well as abdominal radiographs (X-rays). He may also recommend performing biopsy of several different stomach lining areas to find out the underlying cause. Blood tests can be performed to assess the overall health of the affected dog and to eliminate the possibility of the systemic illnesses like:

  • Distemper (ill humor)
  • Parvovirus infections
  • Diabetes
  • Liver diseases
  • Kidney disease
  • Endocrine disorders

Routine blood work is useful for revealing any hormonal and electrolyte abnormalities and anemia. Ultrasonography and radiographs can help to detect whether a foreign object is blocking the gastrointestinal tract of the dog and whether there is any thickening, dilation and inflammation of the stomach lining. Special contrast studies help to detect gastric outflow obstruction, obstructive foreign bodies, delayed emptying of the stomach contents and defects in stomach lining.

Other diagnostic tests like exploratory abdominal surgery and fecal evaluation are also used for this purpose. The exploratory abdominal surgery is used only if all the other diagnostic tools have failed to identify the condition.

Gastritis in Dogs Treatment

There is no specific way of treating Canine Gastritis and the treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. Treatment is generally not required in cases where the disease does not cause any apparent symptoms. In humans, a Helicobacter infection requires immediate treatment regardless of whether or not there are apparent symptoms. However, Helicobacter infection is not treated in dogs unless there are evident symptoms. Generally, the main aim of treatment of the disease is to ease the symptoms of abdominal pain, vomiting and inflammation of the stomach lining. Fluid therapy is a typical procedure which is performed for compensation of fluid loss.

It is important to restrict the amount of food per day, discontinuing the medication responsible for the condition and avoiding any further contact with the substance that caused the disorder during treatment.

Antibiotic medicines are used along with certain acid controlling drugs to fight the Helicobacter spp infection in dogs. The treatment usually takes around two weeks to complete. An individual has to take the affected dog to a veterinarian for a follow-up exam, some weeks after the completion of the initial treatment. This follow-up examination is done to check the success of the treatment. In some cases, the infection returns after a few weeks and requires further treatment.

Gastritis in Dogs Diet

It is important to control the diet of a dog that is showing mild symptoms of the condition. One should stop feeding the dog for a specific amount of time before starting to feed it with small amounts of food and water. Following a bland diet helps to stop the progression of the disorder.

Gastritis in Dogs Prognosis

This disorder generally has a positive outcome with proper treatment, even if its exact cause is not fully identified. The symptoms of acute Gastritis usually go away on their own within a few days or weeks. The chronic form of the disease requires treatment to be cured completely.

Gastritis in Dogs Prevention

Keeping dogs away from garbage as well as other indigestible substance is the best way of preventing both the chronic and acute forms of the disease. One should not allow his or her dog to roam in the neighborhood without proper supervision as they may consume harmful materials. It is important to avoid foods and medications which cause allergenic reaction in a dog. Appropriate booster vaccinations for adult dogs and suitable vaccinations for puppies can help to prevent the viral and bacterial infections that can lead to gastrointestinal disturbances.


Gastritis is a disorder frequently seen to affect domestic or pet dogs. It can be cured completely with proper treatment and medication. However, early diagnosis is very important as it can progress to a life-threatening disease if left untreated.


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