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Key takeaways

Gastritis refers to inflammation of the stomach.

  • Primary symptoms are appetite loss and vomiting
  • Gastritis may be acute (sudden onset) or chronic (lasting for >14 days)
  • Potential causes of gastritis range from minor to serious and include dietary indiscretion, infectious diseases, toxins, parasites, organ failure, food allergies, and cancer
  • Diagnostic efforts such as physical exam, blood work, and diagnostic imaging are directed at identifying the underlying cause
  • Treatment and prognosis depend on the underlying cause.
  • Life-threatening causes of gastritis are typically accompanied by other serious symptoms like pale gums, collapse, or seizures
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A closer look: Gastritis in Dogs

Gastritis is a general term. A specific diagnosis of gastritis is rarely relevant because it does not identify the underlying condition. Veterinarians use this term to localize the inflammation specifically to the stomach as opposed to the intestines, but this identifier does not significantly impact the diagnostic or treatment plan.

Some causes of gastritis are emergencies, such as ingestion of a toxin and intestinal obstruction. Symptoms that may appear in these cases include seizures, staggering gait, pale gums, loss of consciousness, collapse, vomiting unproductively (“dry heaves”), and cessation of stool production. Treatment in these cases is likely to be more aggressive and surgery may be indicated.

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Risk factors

Acute gastritis is fairly common in dogs, since dogs often experience symptoms due to dietary indiscretion. Some causes of acute gastritis, like ingestion of a toxin, are life-threatening and warrant emergency veterinary care.

Chronic gastritis is less common and is often more challenging to diagnose. Gastritis is less of a concern for pet parents who keep items dogs shouldn’t eat out of reach and observe robust intestinal parasite control practices.

Possible causes

Gastritis indicates the stomach is inflamed, but does not identify the underlying cause.

Main symptoms

Testing and diagnosis

Acute gastritis is often a presumptive diagnosis based on history and presentation alone. Symptoms often resolve without any intervention at all. Sometimes supportive care and anti-nausea medication are helpful in cases of acute gastritis.

Pets showing more serious symptoms typically undergo a more aggressive diagnostic plan including blood work and x-rays.

Symptoms of chronic gastritis may warrant additional diagnostic procedures including imaging, surgical biopsies, endoscopy, and comprehensive blood work.

Steps to Recovery

The duration of gastritis depends on the underlying cause. Acute gastritis may be a sign of something relatively innocuous (dietary indiscretion) or of something grave (toxicosis). Chronic gastritis is defined as intermittent or prolonged vomiting for more than 2 weeks, and can also signal something minor or serious. The duration of gastritis does not necessarily correlate with the seriousness of the underlying cause.

Symptoms are treated supportively, and additional therapies such as dietary modification and immunosuppressive medications may be recommended. With appropriate treatment, both acute and chronic gastritis can usually be resolved or managed.


Gastritis itself is not contagious, although some of the underlying causes like viruses and parasites are. Transmission modes vary with the underlying cause. Robust parasite prevention practices, keeping dogs away from other dogs with unknown health status, and diligence in keeping toxic substances out of reach are recommended prophylactic measures.

Is Gastritis in Dogs common?

Acute gastritis is common in dogs, owing to their proclivity for dietary indiscretion. Chronic gastritis is more rare and is usually secondary to a more serious condition.

Typical Treatment

  • Anti-vomiting medication
  • IV fluid administration
  • Antacids and/or stomach protectants
  • Specific treatment targeted at the underlying cause


Nimish Vakil, MD - Writing for Merck Veterinary Manual
Alex Gallagher, DVM, MS, DACVIM-SAIM - Writing for Merck Veterinary Manual
Michael Willard - Writing for Veterinary Information Network®
Craig Webb, DVM, PhD∗ and David C Twedt, DVM - Writing for The Veterinary Clinics of North America. Small Animal Practice

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