Reflux in dogs: veterinarian explains causes and how to care for pets with the problem

 Reflux in dogs: veterinarian explains causes and how to care for pets with the problem

Tracy Wilkins

Reflux in dogs is just as common as reflux in humans. Although it can be mistaken for vomiting, the consistency of the expelled contents is quite different, but needs equal attention. Reflux in dogs can have several causes, but rapid feeding - i.e. the dog eating too fast - is the main one. Still, it is important to realize when it is a case of reflux: dogneeds to be assessed and diagnosed by a professional to be treated correctly.

Want to understand everything about the condition and how to care for a dog with reflux? Just come with us: the Paws of the House talked to veterinarian Andreia Tamaio, who attends at Hospital Vet Popular to answer all questions. check out!

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What is reflux in dogs?

Do you know how the canine digestive system works? It all starts in the mouth, which is where the food enters, is chewed and crushed into smaller parts until it becomes what we call a food bolus. This bolus, in turn, travels a path that passes through the pharynx and esophagus until it reaches the stomach, where it will be stored and begin to be digested with the help of gastric juice. Ideally, thefood should go towards the intestine to continue the digestive process, but sometimes it goes back into the esophagus, and that's when reflux in dogs happens.

"Reflux is the return of gastric contents to the mouth involuntarily. This is composed of gastric juice and, when chronic, can cause ulcers and even esophageal perforations", explains the veterinarian.

What are the causes of reflux in dogs?

In some cases, dogs have a genetic predisposition that leads to reflux. This is mainly due to diseases that affect the gastrointestinal system and even anatomical issues: "The animal may have a malformation in the gastrointestinal tract or the predisposition of the presence of bacteria that cause gastritis in dogs, favoring the appearance of reflux".

Although it is a problem that can be genetically inherited, this is not the only cause of reflux in dogs. "The most frequent cause of reflux is the ingestion of a large amount of food quickly, exceeding the animal's stomach capacity and causing it to return to the esophagus," warns Andreia. So if you have a dog desperate to eat and / or who feeds in large quantities, you should be aware of the problem.It is important to be aware of the quantities, as they may suffer from reflux. This attention should be even greater with small dogs, which have a naturally small stomach and an even more limited capacity than large dogs.

Ingestion of foreign bodies, administration of certain medications, and physical exercise right after eating are also situations that often leave your dog with reflux.

How to identify if your dog has reflux?

It's not always easy to tell that your dog has reflux. Unlike other conditions, there's almost no indication of when the animal is about to expel some content - except, of course, when it vomits or regurgitates after feeding. "Reflux in dogs can be easily confused with other pathologies, since it causes non-specific symptoms to the animal."

Still, it's important to be aware of any changes in the dog's body or changes in behavior that may indicate problems. According to the veterinarian, the main symptoms of a dog with reflux are:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Dog regurgitating
  • Vomit
  • Pain when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
  • Prostration

Generally, regurgitation is the most common thing to happen in cases of reflux in dogs. However, there are scenarios in which the dog vomiting can also be an indication of reflux. The explanation, according to Andreia, is as follows: "It is quite true that the presence of gastric juice in the esophagus for a long time can cause pain, irritation and esophagitis, leading to a picture of nausea and vomiting in dogs".

What you need to know about the diagnosis and treatment of reflux in dogs

If there is any suspicion that your dog has reflux, do not hesitate to seek the help of a specialist. As already mentioned, reflux in dogs can have different causes, so the veterinarian's evaluation is very important to identify the source of the problem and define the best treatment. Generally, the diagnosis begins with anamnesis, which is nothing more than an interview with the tutor, andclinical analysis of the patient.

Complementary examinations are also often requested to confirm reflux in dogs. "The diagnosis is made through abdominal ultrasound, contrasted abdominal radiography and endoscopy", reveals the veterinarian.

Once diagnosed, it's time to know how to treat the problem! To end reflux, dogs need to follow the veterinarian's recommendations. "Treatment is done through the continuous use of gastric protector, antiemetic and, depending on the severity and cause, antibiotic therapy, and may even evolve to surgical intervention".

For those who are adept at natural and homemade alternatives, we have already warned: there is no home remedy for reflux in dogs. For safety reasons, it is essential to follow all the guidelines given by a professional and avoid any type of self-medication. Despite the good intention, giving any type of medicine without a doctor's prescription can end up making the animal's situation worse, and therefore the attitudeis contraindicated.

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Learn how to treat regurgitation in dogs and gastritis in dogs

For those who have a dog regurgitating frequently and do not know what to do or how to care for the pet, the instruction is as follows: "In addition to discovering the cause and treating the focus of the problem, the use of medications is carried out and it is also indicated to keep the animal in a bipedal position for 30 minutes after feeding".

More specific situations of gastrointestinal diseases, such as treating gastritis in dogs, also need veterinary guidance so that the animal recovers promptly and avoids reflux and regurgitation. "The treatment of an animal with gastritis is based on gastric protector and balanced diet, as well as follow-up with a veterinarian".

How to prevent reflux in dogs?

According to the specialist, it is entirely possible to prevent reflux in dogs, as long as it is not due to a genetic factor, malformation, esophageal obstruction or foreign body. "The best way to prevent reflux in dogs is with a balanced diet in adequate quantity, divided into several portions a day".

So if you have a dog that is very hungry and always goes to the pot thirsty, some suggestions for slowing down his rapid feeding are:

1) Break the feed into small portions throughout the day

2) Purchase a slow dog feeder

3) Use interactive toys, such as balls filled with food

4) Putting obstacles in the feed pot

5) If you have more than one dog at home, separate them at mealtimes

For those who don't know, the interactive dog feeder - also called a slow feeder - has small obstacles and ridges that break the surface of the bowl and make it difficult for the pet to eat quickly. That is, even if your puppy wants to devour everything at once, he will not be able to do it. Another option is to put toys in the feed bowl - such as a ball - that can serve asBut remember: it can't be too small a toy or object, or the animal may swallow it and the result will be a choking dog.

Tracy Wilkins

Jeremy Cruz is a passionate animal lover and dedicated pet parent. With a background in veterinary medicine, Jeremy has spent years working alongside veterinarians, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience in caring for dogs and cats. His genuine love for animals and commitment to their well-being led him to create the blog Everything you need to know about dogs and cats, where he shares expert advice from veterinarians, owners, and respected experts in the field, including Tracy Wilkins. By combining his expertise in veterinary medicine with insights from other respected professionals, Jeremy aims to provide a comprehensive resource for pet owners, helping them understand and address their beloved pets' needs. Whether it's training tips, health advice, or simply spreading awareness about animal welfare, Jeremy's blog has become a go-to source for pet enthusiasts seeking reliable and compassionate information. Through his writing, Jeremy hopes to inspire others to become more responsible pet owners and create a world where all animals receive the love, care, and respect they deserve.