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Gastroenteritis in Dogs: How to Deal with Stomach Issues

A happy looking poop on a pink background. The opposite of a gastroenterisis poop

Obi’s had a pretty dreadful summer the poor little guy. First he had a bad cut at the groomer and ended up needing a few stitches, the next week he had a horrible fall after jumping for the frisbee and landing badly on his spine, then an ear infection and to end off the summer he had a bout of gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is a quite common gastrointestinal ailment in dogs that can cause discomfort, distress, and potentially serious health issues if left untreated. It refers to the inflammation of the stomach and intestines and can result from various causes. Let’s explore the causes, symptoms, and the best methods to deal with gastroenteritis in dogs to ensure your doggo’s well-being.

Causes of Gastroenteritis in Dogs

  1. Dietary Indiscretion: One of the leading causes of gastroenteritis in dogs is dietary indiscretion. This happens when dogs eat something they shouldn’t, like spoiled food, garbage, or toxic substances like plants, chemicals, or some human foods like chocolate or grapes. We know Obi has a sensitive stomach, but he’s also the pickiest eater so we ruled this one out.
  2. Infections: Viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections can lead to gastroenteritis. Common culprits include parvovirus, salmonella, campylobacter, and giardia.
  3. Allergies and Food Sensitivities: Some dogs may develop gastroenteritis due to allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients in their food, such as grains, proteins, or additives.
  4. Stress and Anxiety: Dogs experiencing stress or anxiety may develop gastrointestinal issues, including gastroenteritis. Stressors can include changes in routine, travel, or separation from their owner. Our poor Obi has had a lot of stress this summer which could have kicked this off
  5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): This chronic condition involves inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to recurrent bouts of gastroenteritis.

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis in Dogs

Identifying the symptoms of gastroenteritis is crucial for prompt treatment. Common signs include:

  1. Diarrhea: Loose, watery stools that may contain blood or mucus. Obi’s had bright red blood (sorry for the mental image!) It was pretty horrifying to see and we shot off to the vet right away.
  2. Vomiting: Frequent or persistent vomiting, sometimes accompanied by bile.
  3. Abdominal Pain: Dogs with gastroenteritis often show signs of discomfort, such as restlessness, whining, or guarding their abdomen.
  4. Loss of Appetite: Do they show a reduced interest in food or refuse to eat altogether? Super unusual in some dogs, but not our Obi who’s a sensitive little soul
  5. Lethargy: Your dog may seem tired and less active than usual. We definitely noticed a drop off in his usual activity levels but he was dealing with a bad back too at the time poor little guy.
  6. Dehydration: Increased thirst, dry gums, and a lack of skin elasticity can indicate dehydration, which is a common concern with gastroenteritis.

Effective Methods to Deal with Gastroenteritis

  1. Consult a Veterinarian: If you suspect your dog has gastroenteritis, it’s so crucial to consult your veterinarian right away. They can diagnose the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.
  2. Fluid Therapy: Dehydration is a significant concern with gastroenteritis. Your vet may administer fluids intravenously or suggest oral rehydration solutions to maintain your dog’s hydration levels.
  3. Dietary Management: Your vet may recommend a bland diet for a few days to ease the digestive system. This typically includes boiled chicken and rice or a prescription gastrointestinal diet. We boiled the chicken and kept the broth to ensure he was getting enough liquid. He ABSOLUTELY LOVED it. We’ll continue doing this in future I think.
  4. Medications: Depending on the cause and severity of gastroenteritis, your vet may prescribe medications like antiemetics to control vomiting or antibiotics to treat infections.
  5. Address Underlying Causes: For chronic cases related to allergies, sensitivities, or IBD, your vet will work with you to develop a long-term management plan, which may include dietary changes or medications.
  6. Preventative Measures: To prevent future episodes of gastroenteritis, keep toxic substances out of reach, maintain a consistent diet, and minimize stressors for your dog.
  7. Monitor and Follow-Up: Keep a close eye on your dog’s symptoms and follow your vet’s instructions for medication and dietary changes. If symptoms worsen or persist, contact your veterinarian promptly.

Gastroenteritis in dogs is a common and often treatable condition. Early recognition of symptoms and prompt veterinary care are essential for a swift recovery and to prevent complications. By addressing the underlying causes, managing symptoms, and providing appropriate care, you can help your doggo regain their health and vitality. Always consult your veterinarian for tailored guidance, and keep an eye out for the bloody poops!

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