Acid reflux in Dogs

Acid reflux in dogs presents pretty similarly to the condition in humans. It’s fairly common — though it mostly affects younger dogs and it’s not fully understood, as it can have a few causes. Usually, though, a malfunctioning or weak esophageal sphincter (the valve that keeps your dog’s stomach contents in its stomach and away from its throat) will allow gastric fluid to creep back into your dog’s throat and mouth. It’s uncomfortable, but it can be treated. If it’s caused by an underlying issue, treating that problem will help clear up the acid reflux.

What are the potential symptoms of acid reflux in dogs?

The worse the acid reflux, the more troublesome the symptoms. Watch your dog to see if any of these acid reflux symptoms are present:

  • Evening restlessness, like pacing at night
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting or slight regurgitation of their food
  • Coughing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Licking lips or the air
  • Weight loss
  • General discomfort

What tests are used to confirm acid reflux in dogs?

Before anything else, your vet will perform a physical examination of your dog to see if anything could be causing an obstruction in their gastric system. They’ll be looking for things like tumors, hernias, and throat and mouth issues. If none of those are present, they’ll move on to the most effective test for determining acid reflux in dogs.

  • Esophagoscopy. For this test, the veterinarian will put a camera down your dog’s throat to check for swelling, bleeding, redness, or any other changes in the lining of their esophagus.
  • X-rays. If the esophagoscopy doesn’t show anything, your vet will likely take X-rays and blood work to see what else could be causing the issue, like hernias.

What is the treatment for acid reflux in dogs?

If an underlying condition like esophagitis, GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease), a hiatial hernia, cancer, or another illness or injury is causing the acid reflux, that will be the first thing treated. Otherwise, treatment is fairly straightforward and can mostly be done at home. You’ll have to withhold food for a day, then put your dog on a new diet. They should eat small meals frequently throughout the day, composed of food with low fat. Try to set up a food station where your dog’s head is lifted up when it eats, like putting the food on a step-up stool, so when they eat, gravity helps pull the food down into their system. You may get a prescription from your vet for medication that can decrease acid content in the stomach and strengthen the esophageal sphincter.

What is the typical cost of treatment for acid reflux in dogs?

Assuming no other conditions, like an infection, are causing your dog’s acid reflux, you’ll pay for testing and treatment — which can range from a few hundred dollars on the low end up to $1,000 or more.

Hours at the vet: As little as 4 hours, as long as 6 hours.

What are the recovery steps for acid reflux in dogs?

Withhold food for a day to give their stomach a break. Start the new diet and feeding schedule. This should resolve things within a week or so. Monitor your dog for any symptoms like vomiting or coughing. Complete any given prescription medications.

How do I prevent acid reflux in dogs?

Prevention of acid reflux in dogs is similar to the maintenance steps. Feed them a low-fat diet in frequent small meals. You can also try to get them to exercise a bit more as well, as being overweight can cause acid reflux as well.

Can probiotics help acid reflux in dogs?

We already know from extensive use in humans that probiotics are good for gut health. Those positive effects don’t end when we switch species. For dogs, probiotics can be equally as beneficial for helping to tame all manner of digestive concerns,including acid reflux. That being said, studies show that it doesn’t make too much of a difference for consistently healthy dogs. The best time to use probiotics with your dog is when they’re having some sort of intestinal distress, like diarrhea, acid reflux, or inflammatory bowel disease.

Is yogurt good for dogs?

Thanks to the high levels of calcium, protein, and probiotics, yogurt can be great for dogs. But that comes with a couple of caveats. First, you’ll want to make sure it’s plain yogurt with a lot of live cultures. Avoid any sugars or artificial sweeteners. Sweeteners are generally unhealthy for dogs, and some — like xylitol — are actually toxic. Look for a Greek-style lactose-free yogurt and offer it in small amounts for the best results.Dogs are naturally lactose intolerant once they age out of puppyhood, and too much can upset their stomachs rather than help.

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