Gastritis in Dogs

By Tammy Hunter, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM

What is gastritis?

Gastritis is defined as inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It may occur as a short episode (acute) or have a long duration (chronic), and it may be associated with conditions that are more serious.


What are the signs of gastritis?

The most common clinical signs associated with gastritis are sudden vomiting and decreased appetite (anorexia). Other clinical signs may include dehydration, lethargy or depression, increased thirst, blood in the vomit or feces, and abdominal pain. Acute gastritis is typically self-limiting and of short (less than twenty-four hours) duration. The cause is normally not discovered because the clinical signs usually resolve before diagnostic testing is performed.

What causes gastritis?

Acute gastritis occurs frequently in the dog. Dogs are particularly prone to dietary indiscretion which includes the ingestion of spoiled or raw food, non-food items such as garbage, cat-litter, foreign objects, plants, toxins, molds and fungi (mushrooms), feeding inappropriate foodstuffs such as table scraps or leftovers, or being fed large quantities of food. With acute gastritis, most dogs recover in one to three days with supportive treatment, which includes a short period of withholding food. The prognosis is usually good, even if the primary cause is not identified. Some of the common causes or conditions associated with gastritis in dogs include:

Antibiotics Fungal infection Liver Disease Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) Fungal toxins Mast cell tumor Bacterial infection Gastrinoma or other neoplasia Molds Chemical irritants Granulomatous gastric disease Overeating Chemotherapy Heavy metal poisoning Pancreatitis Corticosteroids Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease) Poisonous plants Diabetic ketoacidosis Idiopathic (unknown cause) gastritis Spoiled food Dietary indiscretion Immune mediated disease Stress Endocrine disease Inflammatory bowel disease Toxins Food allergy Intestinal parasites Uterine infections Foreign body Kidney disease Viral infections            

How is gastritis diagnosed?

Tests for gastritis may include blood tests, urinalysis, fecal tests, abdominal X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, and endoscopy. In acute cases, only minimal diagnostics such as blood and urine tests are required.

"If the gastritis is chronic, more involved testing will be undertaken."

If the gastritis is chronic, more involved testing will be undertaken to determine the exact cause of your dog's vomiting.

How is gastritis treated?dog_intestine_stomach-1-01

Treatment is based on the specific cause. Most acute cases resolve without medical intervention. Non-medical treatment guidelines for acute gastritis include:

  • withhold food for 24 to 48 hours
  • offer small amounts of water frequently during the first 24 hours (if fluids cannot be given orally without inducing vomiting, seek immediate veterinary treatment)
  • if there is no vomiting for 24 hours, feed a small amount of a highly-digestible, low-fat food
  • resume feeding with small meals given frequently (usually about ½ of the normal daily amount of food, divided into 4-6 meals)
  • gradually increase the amount of food over the next two to three days
  • if vomiting returns, notify your veterinarian

Medical treatment for dogs with gastritis may include:

  • anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) medications, for example maropitant (brand name Cerenia®) or metoclopramide (brand name Reglan®)
  • fluid therapy if patient is dehydrated
  • proton pump inhibitors – can be used in severe cases of stomach ulceration, for example omeprazole
  • gastrointestinal protectants, for example sucralfate (brand names Carafate®, Sulcrate®)
  • H2 receptor antagonists, when stomach ulcers are suspected, for example famotidine (brand name Pepcid®) or ranitidine (brand name Zantac®)


What is the prognosis for gastritis?

The prognosis is good for cases of acute gastritis. For chronic gastritis, the prognosis is based on the underlying cause.

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