Canine Gastroenteritis: Vomiting and/or Diarrhea in the Dog Caused by GI Inflammation
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Dr. Tarugu is not a vet. He is merely a dog lover and wanted to include something for our four legged friends. Canine gastroenteritis is one of the most commonly encountered health problems seen in dogs. When the stomach and intestinal tract of a dog becomes inflamed for any reason, gastroenteritis occurs. Canine gastroenteritis can vary from mild and self-limiting to severe and life-threatening depending on the cause and the severity of the symptoms.
Causes of Canine Gastroenteritis
Potential causes of canine gastroenteritis vary widely. Some of the frequently seen causes include:
- dietary indiscretion – dogs frequently scavenge and often eat foods which may result in gastroenteritis
- parasites – including roundworms, hookwoorms, whipworms, coccidia, Giardia
- hemorrhagic gastroenteritis – an individual disease frequently seen in small-breed dogs
- viral diseases – including canine parvovirus, canine coronavirus and many other viruses
- bacterial diseases – including Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and many other bacteria
- systemic or metabolic disease – kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatic disorders and other systemic or metabolic diseases can affect the canine gastrointestinal tract
- foreign bodies – dogs may swallow objects which result in gastroenteritis
- toxicities or poisonings – various toxins and poisons can cause gastroenteritis in dogs
This is only a partial list of the most frequently encountered potential causes of canine gastroenteritis. There are many other potential causes of gastrointestinal disease and gastroenteritis in dogs.
Vomiting and Diarrhea in the Dog are the Most Common Symptoms of Canine Gastroenteritis
The most commonly encountered symptoms of canine gastroenteritis are vomiting and diarrhea. Vomiting is seen as the forceful expulsion of the stomach contents through the mouth of the dog. Diarrhea is defined as the frequent passing of loose or watery feces.
Other symptoms seen will vary depending on the cause of the gastroenteritis.
- Fever may be present in viral or bacterial cases of gastroenteritis.
- Dogs suffering from gastroenteritis may have a decreased appetite or lack of appetite.
- Dogs with canine gastroenteritis may be nauseous.
- Dehydration may be present in more severe cases as a result of fluid loss through ongoing vomiting and diarrhea.
- Diarrhea may be bloody in some diseases (parvovirus, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis).
- Bloody feces may also result from irritation to the lower intestinal tract.
- Vomit may appear as partially digested food or as a yellow bile-tinged product. Blood may sometimes be seen in the vomit of dogs with gastroenteritis as well.
- Other symptoms specific to the individual cause of the gastroenteritis may be seen, such as icterus (yellowing of the gums and skin) in cases of liver disease.
Treating Canine Gastroenteritis
Treatment for canine gastroenteritis will vary depending on the cause of the disease and the severity of the disease. Mild, uncomplicated cases of vomiting and diarrhea may be treatable at home. More serious disease may require veterinary intervention.
For dogs which are vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, the first thing the pet owner should do is remove all food and water. After 6-8 hours, water may be introduced in small amounts if the dog is no longer vomiting. At this point, water should be offered every 1-2 hours in small quantities (approximately 1 tsp per pound of body weight). If the dog is able to take in water without further vomiting, small quantities of a bland diet can be introduced. Appropriate bland diets may consist of lean cooked hamburger mixed together with boiled rice or broiled chicken mixed with boiled rice.
Dog owners with dogs suffering from gastroenteritis should keep in mind that dehydration can occur very quickly when symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea are occurring and dehydration can make the situation dangerous for the pet. This is especially true for very young animals and older dogs which may be debilitated or fragile. Veterinary care should be sought quickly for dogs which seem depressed or weak or otherwise act ill or which continue to vomit or experience diarrhea for more than 6-8 hours.
Canine gastroenteritis is probably the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea seen in dogs. Caused by many different things, gastroenteritis can range from being mild to severe for the individual dog and dog owners are advised to seek veterinary intervention for dogs which act sick or which have symptoms that do not resolve in a reasonable length of time.
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