GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX IN DOGS
Last month we looked at vomiting in the dog and when we need to be concerned. After a bit of feedback we have been asked to talk about Gastroesophageal reflux which although not often diagnosed can also cause ‘vomiting’.
WHAT IS IT?
RELUX OESOPHAGITIS , GERD OR ACID REFLUX – is a condition seen in both cats and dogs.
As the name suggests gastroesophageal reflux is the involuntary regurgitation of stomach or intestinal fluids into the oesophagus, the tube that connects our stomach to our throat. As these fluids are involved in the breakdown of food, they contain acid, pepsin and bile as well as other caustic substances that can cause damage and inflammation to the delicate mucosal lining of the oesophagus (oesophagitis).
GERD is seen in both dogs and cats. Young animals with congenital defects such as hiatal hernias are more likely to suffer from this condition.
Regurgitation is quite different from vomiting. In vomiting the body is actively trying to expel the unwanted substance. You will see your dog or cat preparing to vomit, however regurgitation is spontaneous and simply just happens.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- regurgitaion of undigested food
- fluid or mucus
- excessive salivation
- weight loss or loss of appetite
- gulping or swallowing
- persistent cough
There are many other serious conditions that could be causing similar symptoms. If your pet is showing any of these symptoms it would be advisable to seek veterinary help.
HOW WILL MY VET DIAGNOSE THE PROBLEM?
If your vet suspects oesophageal reflux he may wish to perform blood tests, take xrays or refer you to a specialist who can perform a procedure called an oesophagoscopy which involves moving an internal camera through the oesophagus to look for inflammation or changes in the mucosal lining.
The results of these tests will be enable your vet to give a more accurate diagnosis.
WHAT ABOUT TREATMENT?
Most cases once diagnosed can be treated
successfully at home. A change of diet may
be required with medications to coat and
soothe the oesophagus lining. If infection is present antibiotics may be also be indicated.