Gastritis in Dogs

By Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH; 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 may be associated with underlying conditions that are more serious.

What are the clinical 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 dogs. Dogs are particularly prone to dietary indiscretion, including the ingestion of spoiled or raw food, 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 can also cause gastritis. 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 Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) Fungal toxins Mast cell tumor Bacterial infection Gastrinoma or other cancers 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 radiographs (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 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. Note: If fluids cannot be given orally without inducing vomiting, seek immediate veterinary treatment.
  • If there is no vomiting after 24 hours, feed a small amount of highly digestible, low-fat, and low-fiber food.
  • Resume feeding with frequent small meals (usually about half the normal daily amount of food, divided into four to six meals).
  • Gradually increase the amount of food over the next two to three days.
  • If vomiting returns, contact your veterinarian.

Medical treatment for dogs with gastritis may include:

  • Anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) medications, such as maropitant (Cerenia®) or metoclopramide (Reglan®)
  • Fluid therapy if your dog is dehydrated
  • Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole, can be used in severe cases of stomach ulceration
  • Gastrointestinal protectants, such as sucralfate (Carafate®, Sulcrate®)
  • H2 receptor antagonists, such as famotidine (Pepcid®) or ranitidine (Zantac®), when stomach ulcers are suspected

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.

Related Articles