What are Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis?
Eosinophilic gastroenteritis is an inflammatory disease of the stomach and intestines that is characterized by the presence of a high number of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell. This condition can affect animals at any point in their life though it’s most common in dogs younger than five years of age.Eosinophilic gastroenteritis in dogs in a rare inflammatory condition affecting the stomach and intestines that often leads to diarrhea and vomiting in younger dogs.
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Symptoms of Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis in Dogs
- Intermittent vomiting
- Anorexia (lack of appetite)
- Abdominal discomfort
- Weight loss
Primary eosinophilic gastroenteritis
Causes of Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis in Dogs
There are a multitude of possible causes for eosinophilic gastroenteritis, including:
- Parasitic disease
- Food allergies in dogs can cause all of the above symptoms, plus skin lesions or rashes.
- Adverse drug reaction may also cause rashes and difficulty breathing, depending on severity.
- Systemic mastocystosis, the presence of an abnormally high number of mast cells within tissues, sometimes leads to tumor growth. This condition is more common in dogs 9 years of age and older.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Hypereosinophilic syndrome, a rare condition of high eosinophil counts in many organs. Dogs with this condition will also present with a fever and abdominal masses.
- Eosinophilic leukemia, an uncommon disease in dogs that usually causes a high white blood cell count, enlarged lymph nodes, weakness and fevers.
- Eosinophilic granuloma, a mass or lesion containing white blood cells
- Genetics - German shepherds, rottweilers, soft-coated Wheaten terriers, and Chinese Shar-Pei may be predisposed to this condition.
- Idiopathic eosinophilic gastroenteritis (cause unknown)
Diagnosis of Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis in Dogs
The first steps in being able to treat your dog will be to determine the underlying cause of eosinophilic gastroenteritis. Your veterinarian will begin with a thorough examination of your dog, noting his mood, temperature, heart rate and any areas of tenderness.
Further tests may include:
- Stool ova and parasitic testing
- Complete blood counts (CBC)
- Blood chemistry tests
Generally, this condition is diagnosed on the basis of your dog’s symptoms and the ability to rule out other, more serious causes. Positive diagnosis can be made through endoscopic biopsy, though this is rarely performed and is seen as unnecessary unless the dog has been suffering with the condition for some time. Radiographs, such as X-rays, usually show an inflammation of the intestinal tract and stomach walls, which is enough evidence for most veterinarians to begin treatment.
Treatment of Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis in Dogs
Treatment for this condition depends, in part, on the cause.
- Parasitic disease is treated with standard outpatient deworming medication.
- Food allergies are addressed either by starting an elimination diet to discover the exact food allergy in question or by switching your dog to a hypoallergenic diet.
- Adverse drug reactions tend to clear up on their own as soon after the medication is no longer given though allergy medications and steroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling and discomfort.
- Systemic mastocystosis treatment may consist of surgery to remove the tumor growth and/or radiation therapy.
- Inflammatory bowel disease is treated with a change in diet and the use of prescription medications.
- Hypereosinophilic syndrome is treated with immunosuppressant drugs.
- Eosinophilic leukemia is treated with aggressive chemotherapy.
- Eosinophilic granuloma treatment includes preventative measures, such as avoiding food and environmental allergies, and immunotherapy and steroids to control inflammation, and surgery to remove masses.
- Idiopathic eosinophilic gastroenteritis is treated with a combination of steroids, acid blockers and medication to control pain.
Eosinophilic gastroenteritis itself, regardless of cause, is treated with prednisone or a similar steroid, which helps to reduce inflammation; pain medications, which are used to control intestinal and stomach discomfort; acid blockers, which help to reduce stomach acid and prevent further damage; and diet changes to avoid further irritation to the stomach and intestinal tract.
Recovery of Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis in Dogs
Eosinophilic gastroenteritis is generally self-limiting and heals on its own with conservative treatment and monitoring. Dogs need not avoid exercise or their usual activities unless specifically instructed to do so by their veterinarian. Recovery is usually spontaneous and occurs within three to 10 days of onset. Owners will be charged with watching for continued vomiting or malaise, and your veterinarian may wish to see your dog for a follow-up visit to recheck white blood cell levels and/or stool samples.