Gastroenteritis is a disease in which the dog's intestinal lining and the stomach are inflamed. This is a digestive disorder in which the intestines do not work correctly. This condition is observed in dogs of all age groups. Every dog breed is susceptible to gastroenteritis.
Persistent vomiting, dehydration and watery diarrhea are the common symptoms of gastroenteritis. Although occasional vomiting is common in dogs, severe or frequent vomiting is certainly not normal and may be the onset of gastroenteritis. In case the dog's vomit or the stool contains blood, then it is pointing towards hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. This is an indication that the dog is bleeding internally and immediate veterinary care is a must. Other symptoms that help recognize gastroenteritis in dogs are as follows:
- Lack of appetite
- Grumbling noises in the stomach
- Depression and listlessness (lack of energy or enthusiasm)
- Sometimes bile is noticed in the vomit
Improper diet and infections are largely responsible for causing canine gastroenteritis. Eating spoiled food or ingestion of foreign objects often causes acute vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Bacterial, viral or fungal infections can also lead to gastroenteritis. Certain medications such as corticosteroids and anti-cancer drugs can cause inflammation in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Abdominal disorders like pancreatitis and peritonitis and metabolic disorders such as liver or kidney disease can cause gastroenteritis. The gastrointestinal tract getting infected with parasites or bacteria such as E.coli may also lead to gastroenteritis in dogs.
Diagnostic tests are needed only when the dog has severe diarrhea and vomiting. In many cases, symptoms of gastroenteritis are short-lived and do not require any elaborate diagnostic tests. However, if the symptoms continue for 2-3 days or the dog experiences diarrhea or vomiting that contains blood, then the following diagnostic tests are performed.
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)
- Stool examination
- Routine urine examination
- X-rays or ultrasound of abdomen
- Blood biochemistry profiling.
Many times, the blood sample of the dog is analyzed to evaluate RBC (red blood cell) count. In case the results show elevated blood count, then there is a high probability that your pet is affected with gastroenteritis. On the other hand, a biochemical profile finds out the amount of enzymes and electrolytes present in the blood. This is a blood test that determines the impact of gastroenteritis on your dog's health by evaluating the functionality of different organs. The test may also help to assess the underlying cause of gastroenteritis.
As aforementioned, canine gastroenteritis is typically marked by frequent episodes of vomiting. In fact, the dog vomits every time after consuming food. In such a scenario, the dog should be kept away from solid food for a day or two depending upon the severity of the gastroenteritis. During this period, the doctor is given electrolytes intravenously to prevent dehydration that may occur due to diarrhea and vomiting.
Dogs suffering from severe or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis that lasts for more than 24 hours, require immediate veterinary attention. Intravenous fluid administration is recommended to replenish lost fluids. Once the condition stabilizes, a bland diet may be introduced. When the dog stops vomiting, the normal diet may be restarted. If gastroenteritis has occurred due to bacterial infection, use of antibiotics is the mainstay of the treatment. Antiemetics such as Thorazine and Reglan that are formulated to stop vomiting in dogs might also be recommended by your vet. Oral medicines must not be given without consulting a veterinarian as wrong dosage may irritate the already swollen intestinal lining.
Maintaining a proper diet is one of the best preventive measures to avoid canine gastroenteritis. Prevent the exposure of your dog to garbage and trash cans. As a dog owner, you need to monitor your pet's eating habits. Make sure your pet does not eat spoiled or crap food. Ensuring that your pet gets high quality dog food can go a long way in preventing gastroenteritis. The dog's environment must also be kept clean to reduce the chances of infection. These preventive steps can keep your dog healthy and fine for all the years to come.