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What are Atrophic Gastritis?

In atrophic gastritis, your dog’s stomach lining will thin and there will be damage to the glands that create stomach acid. The condition is a kind of chronic inflammation of the stomach lining that will result in the mucosa and the lining becoming too thin. The damage that occurs to the glands can result in excessive bacteria in your dog’s small intestine. 

Treatment for atrophic gastritis is more challenging than for other types of gastritis, although diet changes and medications can help minimize symptoms and additional thinning of the stomach lining.

Atrophic gastritis is a condition where chronic inflammation leads to a thinning of the lining of the stomach and damage to the glands that create stomach acid.

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Symptoms of Atrophic Gastritis in Dogs

The symptoms that your dog experiences as a result of this condition are like those of other gastritis conditions. Symptoms of atrophic gastritis include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • An increase in thirst
  • Appearing lethargic
  • Disinterest in food
  • Vomiting 
  • Weakness 
  • Losing weight

Types

This condition is considered to be a chronic gastritis. Other types of chronic gastritis include:

Eosinophilic Gastritis - This condition includes chronic inflammation of the stomach and intestines; this type of gastritis is seen more often in dogs under the age of five

Hypertrophic Gastritis - This condition involves chronic inflammation of your dog’s stomach which will cause large coiled ridges to form in its inner wall

Lymphocytic-plasmacytic Gastritis - This condition involves chronic stomach inflammation as a result of inflammatory bowel disease

Causes of Atrophic Gastritis in Dogs

Numerous things can lead to inflammation of the stomach to include:

  • Gastric tumors
  • A food allergy
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Internal parasites

Atrophic gastritis is often thought to be the end state of other gastritis related conditions. It is not clear what leads to atrophic gastritis in dogs, however it is found to occur more often in older dogs as well as those experiencing acid reflux disease.

Diagnosis of Atrophic Gastritis in Dogs

Upon bringing your dog to the veterinarian, you will be asked about the symptoms you have seen in your dog, when you first noticed them and any changes that have occurred. Your veterinarian will also ask you for information on your dog’s diet, medications he takes and any access that he has had to possible toxins. Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination, paying close attention to your dog’s stomach and abdomen. Often your veterinarian will begin treatment for gastritis while also investigating other possible issues through further testing. 

These tests can include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile and urinalysis, which will help to rule out systemic illnesses like distemper, diabetes and liver disease. These will be especially important if improvement is not seen with initial treatment. Your veterinarian may also consider x-rays, ultrasounds and contrast dye to see if there are any obstructions or physical problems that can cause inflammation in your dog. An endoscopy and biopsy may be utilized to further examine the tissue in your dog’s stomach to see if it has thinned and whether the gastric glands have been damaged.

Treatment of Atrophic Gastritis in Dogs

Upon examination, your veterinarian will be able to determine if your dog is showing signs of being significantly dehydrated; if so it may be recommended that he receive supportive care like intravenous fluids. Should the condition of your dog be less severe, your veterinarian may recommend not feeding him for 12 to 48 hours (waiting until he has stopped vomiting for 12 hours). This will give your dog’s stomach and intestines the opportunity to recover from vomiting; during the time that you are not offering food, you can provide him with small amounts of water and crushed ice. 

Once food is reintroduced, you will want to provide him with food that is soft and mild that includes a carbohydrate that is easy to digest along with a source of protein. This could include cooked rice, pasta or potatoes and boiled ground beef (no seasoning) or white chicken without skin. The diet should be low in fat and fiber. If vomiting returns, medication to assist with the symptoms may be recommended to include anti-emetics or corticosteroids.

Recovery of Atrophic Gastritis in Dogs

Atrophic gastritis is able to be managed, though the damage that has occurred is usually unable to be reversed. Therefore, it is important to reduce recurrences by managing the condition. This may involve medication to protect your dog’s stomach lining and immunosuppressive medication that will help your dog avoid further damage. Prescription bland or hypoallergenic food may be recommended to manage the condition.