Doggy Gastro

One of the most common complaints seen at the vet clinic is the dog with an upset ‘stomach’. Dogs with vomiting and or diarrhoea are a daily occurrence often due to a dogs tendency to scavenge from the environment. There are many different triggers of gastric upset from scavenging or gastrointestinal indiscretion. Dogs can develop nausea and diarrhoea secondary to the ingestion of foreign bodies, toxins, undigestible plants, intestinal parasites, viruses or bacteria. Many dogs will eat grass or plant material while out walking and can easily pick up bacteria or viruses that have been shed by other dogs with some viruses living in the environment for months after they have passed. 

Some mild cases of gastroenteritis can be treated with simply feeding a bland diet for several days, regular smaller meals can be easier for a sensitive gut to tolerate than fewer larger meals, probiotics, anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal medications may be prescribed. If a dog is very unwell it may need hospitalising for intravenous fluid support and blood and faecal testing to determine the exact cause or trigger of the symptoms. One form of stomach upset that can be particularly alarming for pet owners is haemorrhagic gastroenteritis, this presents with the dog passing large quantities of blood in it’s stools and sometimes vomitus. These patients can be often be very lethargic and systemically unwell although most will respond quickly to prompt veterinary attention. The cause of the haemorrhagic form of gastroenteritis is not well understood but thought to be often due to endotoxins produced by ingested bacteria or in some cases an acute allergic reaction. 

To prevent some of the preventable forms of gastroenteritis make sure your dog is up to date with it’s vaccinations, is regularly wormed and if they develop severe vomiting or diarrhoea take them to your vet promptly as early intervention can often result in rapid improvement of the symptoms.