Dog Training

Gastritis (inflammation of the gastric mucosa in dogs explained)

Does your dog possibly have gastritis? What gastritis is, how you can prevent it and how it can be treated, as well as a few valuable tips, I've put together for you in this comprehensive guide. In addition, for this article we have Advice from veterinarian Emin Jasarevic obtained. Note: This article is written for the german country.

pug sick
Article Overview

Veterinarians believe that up to 40% of all dogs in Germany are affected by acute or chronic gastritis, which is often diagnosed too late.

What exactly is gastritis?

Gastritis is the medical term for inflammation of the stomach lining. 

As in humans, the dog's stomach is made up of several layers. The innermost layer is the so-called gastric mucosa, which lines the inside of the stomach like the lining of a bag.

It prevents the aggressive stomach acid from attacking and decomposing the other layers of the stomach. Without gastric mucosa, the stomach would literally digest itself.

Much like its wild ancestor, the wolf, every dog has a sack-like, extremely expandable stomach in which it can absorb large quantities of barely chewed food in a very short time.

For wolves, the ability to devour several kilos of food within a few minutes is even vital.

In dogs, heavy gorging usually leads to problems. The more content the stomach has to hold, the more stomach acid it produces.

As carnivores, the stomach acid of wolves and dogs is particularly aggressive and acidic. 

The reason: Meat often contains dangerous bacteria that must be killed quickly and reliably in the stomach. 

In addition, stomach acid must also break down and decompose bones, tendons and large pieces of meat so that your charge can utilize the nutrients.

However, too much stomach acid in your pet's stomach not only attacks the food, but also his stomach lining. The stomach lining can be damaged by pieces of bone, foreign objects in the food, swallowed toys, chemicals, bacteria or medication. In this case, stomach acid gets to the underlying layers of the stomach and irritates them. 

The result is pain, nausea, local inflammation and bleeding - acute gastritis is present.

What are the effects of gastritis?

If the gastric mucosa cannot regenerate quickly and the irritation persists, it spreads, destroys even more gastric mucosa. Consequently it comes to large-scale erosion. Now lies a chronic gastritis before.

Often the inflammation spreads to the small intestine and becomes the Gastroenteritis.

If the inflammation has also attacked deeper tissue layers, the result is a Gastric ulcer. This can eat so deeply into the stomach that the stomach wall breaks through and stomach contents enter the abdominal cavity. 

Then your pelt-nose is in mortal danger and only an emergency operation in the veterinary hospital can save him!

What are the causes?

Often "the dog lies buried in the food". Your fur bearer does not tolerate individual components such as certain types of meat or is allergic to them.

If the dog feels visibly unwell after eating, vomits or refuses the food, you should first change the food brand or composition. 

A Feeding diary helps you to get an overview of when and with which food the symptoms appear, stay away or worsen. If your pet eats raw meat and bones, a piece of bone could also have injured the stomach lining and caused acute gastritis.

Food that is not species-appropriate or of poor quality will also harm your four-legged friend in the long term.

The schnitzel or piece of cake from your master's dining table, the Wienerle as a reward or the salami pizza that your darling likes so much, are admittedly well-intentioned love tokens. However, salt, sugar, spices and artificial flavors are poison for him, because they irritate the stomach lining.

1. feeding on time and fixed feeding habits.

What many dog owners do not consider: Overly regular feeding times or habits can also cause gastritis.

Dogs are creatures of habit. If there is his dinner at the same time every day, his internal clock adapts to this rhythm. His stomach produces more gastric acid at this time as a precaution, after all, food is about to be digested. 

If the food then comes later or not at all, the excess gastric acid can irritate the stomach. 

The same is true if your little one knows that they will always get food as soon as you walk in the front door. 

Giving your four-legged friend a larger feeding window or omitting fixed feeding routines will help reduce stomach acid production.

2. young dogs are particularly susceptible

Puppy bowl

Puppies have a strong play instinct and pick up everything that comes in front of their nose. 

Foreign bodies such as twigs, stones, glass splinters or spoiled meat can also enter the stomach and injure or irritate the mucous membrane. 

Also, some dog toys accidentally end up chewed or whole in the dog's stomach, so be careful what your faithful friend plays with!

3. winter gastritis / snow gastritis

Was your darling all summer and autumn fit and full of life, but in the winter his behavior changes. Now he is apathetic, eats little or not at all, then also a so-called Winter or snow gastritis be the reason. 

Dogs love to eat snow. Unfortunately, in the snow also hide rolling grit, Road salt, antifreeze or foreign bodies that damage the stomach lining.

If your pelt-nose has eaten a lot of snow, the stomach is badly supplied with blood by the cold shock, also this can damage the mucous membrane!

So it's best not to let your pet eat snow at all, especially snow from the side of the road or path!

4. drugs as a cause

Your four-legged friend has been prescribed medication by the veterinarian? Be careful, these can cause gastritis as a side effect! Especially bad for the dog's stomach are Painkiller!

With a short-term use and additional administration of stomach protection preparations not much happens and the benefit clearly outweighs. With long-term use, however, you must pay close attention to the eating behavior and symptoms such as malaise, irritability or vomiting!

5. bacteria as a cause

The dog's stomach is not a trash can, even if your faithful friend drinks from puddles or stagnant water when very thirsty and may not be picky about food. 

If bacteria get into his stomach, the latter produces more gastric acid to kill the dangerous germs and thus also strains its mucous membrane. Particularly suspected is the small spiral-shaped germ Helicobacter pylori. 

It is very mobile, attaches itself to the epithelial cells of the gastric mucosa and thus spreads unnoticed to the entire stomach. 

Just as in humans, the intruder causes symptoms in dogs such as. Vomiting, pain, and increased stomach acid production. It often remains undetected for a long time because of the non-specific symptoms. Thus, Helicobacter pylori can trigger gastritis or gastroenteritis in the long term.

6. gastric ulcer - typical consequence of stress?

Dogscooter sled dog

"Dogs are only human!"says a proverb and hits the nail on the head. 

Just as you are under stress from too much work, family problems, or extraordinary stress, your dog can suffer as well.

Stress symptoms can be observed more frequently in working dogs, police or fire department dogs, or sporting dogs such as sled dogs or agility athletes. For example, about 60% of the sled dogs that participated in the famous Iditarod dog race in 2003 had developed acute gastritis. At the start of the race, all the dogs had still been healthy!

The wild ancestors of our domestic dogs had to fight for their survival every day and had to flee or fight quickly in dangerous situations. For this, the muscle tone was permanently increased, the heart beat faster and pumped most of the blood to the extremities to supply the muscles there. 

Food digestion was hindered for this process and in case of danger undigested food was regurgitated from the stomach. The muscles around the stomach hardened and the blood flow to the digestive tract was reduced to the bare minimum. 

These physiological survival strategies were genetically inherited from the wolf to the dogs and in every stress situation the body reels off this program. If the stress lasts over a long period of time, this survival program for emergencies becomes a permanent condition and can affect the stomach.

A new dog in the family, a deceased master or a move means a lot of stress for your foster.

Maybe you're particularly sporty and think you're doing your four-legged friend some good by taking him jogging, cycling and swimming, and chasing him around the agility course at the weekend. Some dogs need a lot of exercise and activity, so that's okay.

However, if your protégé reacts irritably and with changed eating behavior to a lot of movement and "entertainment", then give him a break more often. For many dogs, a relaxed walk is enough, so it doesn't always have to be extreme sports.

The causes at a glance

  • Dog food: Spoiled or inappropriate food, allergies to individual ingredients/components, too much or too cold food. (Caution with dog ice cream)
  • Feeding Habits: portions that are too large, snares without chewing, feeding too often or too many treats in between
  • Polluted water
  • Germs: in feed or water (Helicobacter pylori)
  • Medication: especially painkillers
  • Foreign body: Indigestible, swallowed toys, injury from bones.
  • Eat snow: Road salt, antifreeze or rolling grit in the snow, circulatory disturbance due to cold weather
  • Stress

Symptoms of gastritis

Often our four-legged friends show quite non-specific symptoms, which is why gastritis often goes undetected and thus becomes chronic.

Perhaps you have observed that your darling eats less or when eating suddenly selective is. One day he eats everything and the next day nothing or only a few bites of a certain food. 

After eating, many four-legged friends are then restless or irritated and show signs of pain. or Malaise. Sometimes they want Drink constantly, cold water is preferred. Excess gastric acid can enter the esophagus through a damaged gastric sphincter and painfully cauterize it.

Surely you've had heartburn before and know how painful it is. Your protégé tries to relieve the burning in the throat and stomach by drinking cold water.

Some quadrupeds suddenly lie only on cool surfaces or lick themselves all the time. Most try through Eating grass all the time to get rid of their problem.

Sure signs of gastritis, on the other hand, are a foul, sour odor from the mouth, dark feces (due to digested blood) and vomiting of blood or white to yellowish foam. Because your pet eats less, he often loses weight, the coat looks shaggy and dull.

If he vomits white foam or yellowish liquid in the morning on an empty stomach, this is also a sign of hyperacidity of the stomach.

If the gastritis has developed into a stomach ulcer, it often bleeds. Then your faithful companion apathetic and listless. The veterinarian often detects mild to moderate anemia. 

Because the stomach no longer works properly, the food is no longer properly broken down and broken down. Important nutrients are missing and this leads to weight loss.

My dog grumbles at the food?

dog is hungry

Especially non-specific symptoms like a changed feeding behavior are often misinterpreted by the dog owner. The dog then "grumbles" or the owner thinks that he overeaten at the last meal. 

. frequent drinking is not interpreted as a sign of gastritis, especially in the summer months, but only as increased thirst due to the heat.

Vomiting shortly after eating or in the morning can be a gastritis symptom. 

On the other hand, vomiting is quite common in dogs fed raw, especially in the morning when the dog excretes undigested bone residue from the previous evening in this way. 

If, on the other hand, your furry friend vomits blood or vomits white foam or yellowish-white liquid without food admixture over a longer period of time (almost) every morning, a visit to the vet is indicated!

Licky Fits

Dalmatian lick

Some dogs react to an overacidified stomach with sudden licking fits, called licky fits!

The dog 

  • licks everything in its vicinity as if remote-controlled,
  • smacks and salivates heavily,
  • overstretches the neck, as if he wants to get rid of a foreign body and
  • swallows empty.

At the same time he seems restless and driven, hardly reacts to you and can hardly be dissuaded from his actions. 

Such a seizure is not only disturbing for you, but also for your pet. Many four-legged friends panic themselves. In addition, they can accidentally ingest foreign bodies or toxins during uncontrolled licking.

Symptoms of chronic gastritis

If your pet shows one or more of these symptoms, he may be suffering from acute or chronic gastritis:

  • Feed refusal
  • Restlessness, malaise after eating
  • Licky Fits - uncontrolled licking fits
  • the dog wants to drink (cold) water all the time
  • frequent lying on cold surfaces
  • constant licking on the body
  • Vomiting of whitish foam, yellowish-white fluid or blood
  • dark/bloody feces (tarry stools)
  • constantly eating grass, plants or soil
  • hardened muscles on the abdomen, especially in the stomach area
  • pressure sensitive abdomen
  • Dog signals pain
  • Apathy or irritability, weight loss, shaggy coat.

Diagnosis and treatment

Only a veterinarian can diagnose acute or chronic gastritis with certainty. 

It is important that you have observed your four-legged friend carefully beforehand and tell the veterinarian all your observations. He will probably take blood and palpate your dog. Often, however, only a endoscopic examination of the gastrointestinal tract Clarity.

In acute cases, the veterinarian usually prescribes a Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole or Gastroguard ®.. The drug slows down stomach acid production by destroying the molecules needed for it. It only needs to be given once a day. 

However, this is not a permanent solution, because over time the body simply increases the amount of proton pumps and the cycle starts all over again. 

In case of bacterial gastritis, the veterinarian prescribes antibiotics.

Treat gastritis homeopathically

Homeopathy globules

Of course you can treat your dog with an acute or chronic gastritis at least supportive homeopathic.

If he vomits and does not want to eat, Nux vomica can help. If your fosterling is also apathetic and very affectionate towards his caregiver and only wants to lie in cool places, Pulsatilla may help.

The latter remedy also helps if your pelt nose just the loss of a caregiver or other "emotional" grief on the stomach.

In case of spoiled food or food intolerance alleviates Graphite quickly and effectively relieve the discomfort. If the stomach problems result from stress, you give best Chamomilla.

For an exact diagnosis and the choice of the right globules, it is best to present your four-legged friend to an experienced veterinary homeopath. Globules are usually administered to dogs in the potency C30 dissolved in water.

These home remedies help with acute gastritis

Home remedy dog

The gastritis is acute, but the vet is not there or it is the weekend, then good advice is expensive. In the short term, you can also help your protégé with home remedies.

A circular massage on the abdomen calms him and has a relaxing effect on the tense muscles. Warmed towels or a Heat pad on the belly have the same effect.

If he still eats, from now on should be only Gentle diet be fed. Boiled Chicken, Cooked rice or boiled potatoes are easily digestible, provide all the necessary vitamins and are easy on the stomach. 

Be sure to cook the rice until it is very soft and almost mushy. This is the only way to form mucilage, which acts like a protective film on the stomach lining. You can add to the food enhance with a spoonful of cold natural yogurt, it provides the quadruped with additional proteins and minerals.

If your darling does not want to eat anything, try it with Cottage cheese and honey. Cottage cheese is rich in nutrients and yet gentle on the stomach, honey has an antibacterial effect.

Raw fed dogs should rather get canned food now. Pay attention to the ingredients and reach for food in Food grade back. 

Even after the acute symptoms have subsided, a change of diet can be useful and in the case of chronic gastritis, a species-appropriate but stomach-friendly diet is mandatory!

Healing earth or Activated carbon quickly bind excess stomach acid and help quickly and in the short term against the discomfort. The healing clay acts in the dog's stomach like a sponge that absorbs the stomach acid.

Lukewarm chamomile tea has a calming and cooling effect on irritated mucous membranes.

Artboard 26

Preventive measures

Anti Sling Bowl Dog Test

If your protégé usually eats large portions quickly, it helps to have a Anti-wrestling bowl. You can find more about this in our experience report.

Instead of one or two large portions, it is better to divide the food into several smaller portions throughout the day. Smaller and chewed amounts of food are less strenuous for the stomach and it must produce less gastric acid.

If your foster eats raw food with lots of bones, it's better to give him the softer, meaty bones in the morning. 

Indeed, the protein in meat stimulates gastric acid production. Hard, meatless and more mineralized bones can help with chronic gastritis.

Both raw food and canned food you give best always room-warm. Cold food straight from the refrigerator stresses the stomach. For the same reason, dog ice cream is often poorly tolerated in the summer.

Frozen bones in summer or eating snow in winter are now taboo!

Rest, no stress and absolute gentleness even for the dog!

Since stress can also trigger or aggravate gastritis in dogs, a calming environment, the Proximity to the reference person and much attention important now. 

Exciting walks, changes of location, long car rides and everything that your four-legged friend doesn't like so much or scares him, you'd better avoid now.

If your pet is your sparring partner in sports, he needs to take a break now. Small walks and a few sticks to throw are fine if he feels like it. 

Otherwise, your four-legged friend now needs a lot of sleep, a lot of petting and by no means excitement or stress!

Recommendation from the vet

Gastritis definitely needs to be diagnosed and treated, as your dog is suffering greatly. 

Even if some dogs show few or even no specific symptoms and appear to be healthy, they may still be in pain. They may suffer and develop long-term nutritional deficiencies, anemia and other sequelae.

It is often only after successful treatment that owners realize how fit and active their family companion really is and how much he must have suffered.

Examined by the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic
Examined by the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic

I am a veterinarian and writer on animal health topics. Animals are my passion and it is my personal concern to create medically accurate articles and videos to inform pet owners as much as possible.

Learn more

Share now: