Serious stomach problems invariably cause dog vomiting. These problems can be best diagnosed by a gastroscopy (a thin fibre-optic instrument which is passed in through the mouth and into the stomach), X-rays and ultrasound. When a gastroscope is not available, exploratory surgery can be done but is a lot more intrusive for the dog.
Dogs are relentlessly inquisitive about there surroundings and are prone to rummaging around in trash and trashcans. This has been known to cause many stomach problems in canines from this ‘scavenging’ of scrap foods. Because many of these food substances have gone bad by the time they are eaten, in many cases this leads to the following stomach conditions.
Gastritis is generally caused when dogs scavenge but it can also be brought on by infections, parasites and poisons. This causes the dogs to vomit and go off their food. Treatment will involve removing any known or obvious cause of the gastritis and also correcting any complications such as electrolyte imbalances. Feeding the affected dog is restricted.
A dog with chronic gastritis will regularly vomit over a period of time. The problem may be caused by persistently eating grass or by foreign objects. It can also be caused by chemical irritations or food allergies.
Diagnosis of chronic gastritis: Blood samples may reveal an increase level of eosinophils, which is a type of white blood cell that is involved in the immune response to parasites and allergies. If a biopsy shows the presence of eosinophils in the wall of the stomach, a diagnoses of eosinophilic gastritis is made.
Treatment includes metoclopramide which is an anti-emetics. This will hinder continued vomiting. Fluid therapy and corticosteroids are used in cases of eosinophilic gastritis. Anti-ulcer drugs such as cimetidine and ranitidine, and protectors of the mucous linking of the stomach such as sucralfate and misoprostol are also used to cure the problem.
Drugs are the most common cause of stomach ulcers in dogs. These are corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs). Stress and severe sickness can also cause ulcers. Dogs who suffer from ulcers will vomit intermittently, they will lose weight and will appear unhappy (as the dogs owner, you will easily notice this). The vomit could show fresh or old blood and the dogs stools may be black (melaenic) from blood originating in the stomach or duodenum.
Another albeit unusual cause of stomach ulcers comes in the form of the presence of mast cell tumors on the skin. These tumors release large quantities of histamine, which in turn triggers hydrochloric acid release in the stomach. Any dog with several mast cell tumors should be assumed to be at risk from stomach and duodenal ulcers.
The most accurate way to diagnose the presence of ulcers in the stomach is through the use of a gastroscopy. Contrast X-rays and ultrasound can also be used but are not as accurate.
The cause of the ulcer meeds to be eradicated. Severe anaemia may occur due to blood loss and can be treated with a blood replacement and a combination of drugs to protect the mucous lining of the stomach and to enhance tissue repair. Medication will continue until further gastroscopy’s show that all ulcers have healed.
Dogs are more sensitive to the ulcer inducing capacity of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), than humans are. Therefore it is important to only give NSAIDs to dogs which are meant for canines. Do not give dogs people NSAIDs.
Dogs sometimes eat things which are not edible. These can cause obstructions in the dogs digestive system. Tumors and scarring can also cause obstructions around the pyloric canal (where food moves from the stomach into the duodenum). The affected dogs will vomit, lose weight and often appear uncomfortable.
Contrast X-rays will probably show little sign or even no emptying of stomach contents into the duodenum. Ultrasound tests may show an enlarged, fluid filled stomach and a gastroscopy will reveal the exact cause of any obstruction. Surgery will usually be required to remove an obstruction like this.
The contents of the stomach may enter the intestines too quickly or too slowly. Delayed emptying is a common cause of vomiting and loss of appetite.
When the exact cause of delayed emptying is unknown, dogs are treated according to the sign which they show of this problem. Metroclopramide will help stop the vomiting, while cisapride will stimulate the emptying of the stomach.