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What are Gastroenteritis?

Stomach flu is a form of gastroenteritis that occurs when your dog contracts a virus. This is usually characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. Because the symptoms are not specific to gastroenteritis, you should bring your dog to the veterinarian to rule out other, more serious conditions. Although symptomatic treatment for the stomach flu can be provided at home, it's best to leave it to a professional.

The stomach flu is caused by viral agents that affect your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, resulting in acute vomiting and diarrhea. Gastroenteritis can typically be resolved at home with rehydration therapy, but you should first bring your dog to a veterinarian to ensure that the symptoms are not the sign a more serious disease.

Gastroenteritis Average Cost

From 71 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis in Dogs

The two most common signs of gastroenteritis are vomiting and diarrhea. Additional signs to watch for include:

  • Dehydration due to fluid loss through vomiting or diarrhea
  • Blood in vomit or feces
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
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Causes of Gastroenteritis in Dogs

The term “stomach flu” typically refers to viral gastroenteritis, which is caused by infectious agents such as noroviruses, sapoviruses, and parvoviruses. Gastroenteritis itself, however, can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Toxins
  • Tumors
  • Bacterial infection
  • Parasites
  • Abdominal disorders
  • Systematic infections – urinary tract infections (UTI), meningitis, pneumonia
  • Thyroid disease

Though viruses are not thought to be a common cause for gastroenteritis in dogs, a large number of them may affect the gastrointestinal tract.

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Diagnosis of Gastroenteritis in Dogs

Gastroenteritis is diagnosed by the sudden onset of vomiting or diarrhea. Since the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis are mirrored in a number of other conditions, you will need to provide your veterinarian with information to help narrow the possibilities down. Come prepared with as much information as possible to help the veterinarian diagnose. It all comes down to preparation, the better prepared you are, the more likely a swift and accurate diagnosis will be delivered. This information may include:

  • Any changes in your dogs diet, including new food. The veterinarian will be especially interested in understanding if the brand of food was changed. If readily accessible, bring in a picture of the dogs food and ingredient label.
  • Your dogs current feeding frequency and amount fed
  • Any and all food and liquid consumed in the last forty-eight to seventy-two hours. This includes table scraps your dog may have received, food containers he or she could have accessed, and standard treats or rewards you may have given him/her. Be especially alert for access points in the kitchen or pantry that you may have left open.
  • Any illnesses diagnosed, or not, within the past month. These include spouts of vomiting, runny nose, lethargy, and general weakness.
  • Any medications your dog may be prescribed.
  • Any supplements your dog may be receiving, whether over-the-counter or self-prescribed.
  • Any new activities, or changes of environment. It’s important to note things like dog parks visited, new dogs met, and new people in your dog’s common environment.
  • Any history of allergies or dietary restrictions

The veterinarian will establish a history and a medical profile for your dog, both of which can assist in diagnosing stomach flu.

Fecal testing can reveal the presence of viruses in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, though this method is not always reliable and cannot detect all types of viral agents. The veterinarian will most likely perform blood work and a urinalysis during the initial examination to rule out other, more serious conditions. The urinalysis will be helpful for detecting urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or general dehydration. Through the process of elimination, the veterinarian may attempt either abdominal radiographs, or abdominal ultrasounds. These tests will help the veterinarian search for any stomach or intestinal obstructions or other abnormalities. After this testing, the veterinarian may work towards a diagnosis of gastroenteritis, if not of stomach flu specifically. Laboratory testing and imaging are not necessary for a diagnosis of gastroenteritis but do eliminate other causes for exhibited symptoms.

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Treatment of Gastroenteritis in Dogs

Treatment for viral gastroenteritis is primarily supportive and focuses on the symptoms rather than the condition itself. Since your dog loses fluids through vomiting and diarrhea, rehydration is vital, as is proper maintenance of blood electrolyte balance. Fluids may be replenished orally or intravenously depending on the degree of dehydration.

The veterinarian may recommend that you withhold food for a day to allow your dog’s gastrointestinal tract to rest and recover. After this time, you can introduce soft, bland foods and gradually work back up to your dog’s normal diet. Medications are prescribed in severe cases to decrease your dog’s nausea and urge to vomit. Most cases of viral gastroenteritis can be resolved at home without the intervention of medication, provided your dog remains sufficiently hydrated.

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Recovery of Gastroenteritis in Dogs

Overcoming dehydration is important, be sure to provide your dog with plenty of fresh water, and limit or withhold food for several hours. The vomiting and diarrhea should improve within a day or two of treatment, at which time you can feed your dog small amounts of bland food, such as boiled chicken and rice. This allows your dog’s gastrointestinal tract to rest.

If the symptoms do not clear after a few days, or if your dog develops additional signs, return to the veterinarian immediately. Otherwise, the gastroenteritis should clear on its own, and no further examinations will be necessary. Most dogs recover fully from gastroenteritis, barring complications that may arise from severe dehydration.

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Gastroenteritis Average Cost

From 71 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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Gastroenteritis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Rottweiler

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Eight Weeks

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sleeping A Lot Vomiting Diarrea Doesn’T Want To Eat Doesn’T Want To Play This Has Been Going On For 2 Days Already

I am really concerned I think he needs medical attention right away but my parents think he just has a upset stomach that’s what is causing the diahhrea

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Puppies are very prone to parasites and infectious diseases like parvovirus, and without treatment, those can be fatal. I would agree with you that he needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away. They will be able to do some simple tests and see what might be going on with him. Once they know more they can get treatment for him so that he is healthy. I hope that he is okay.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Boxer

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea Lethargic

Picked up our boxer from kennel. She lost weight has liquid diaherra, won’t eat and lethargic

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Dogs can get stress colitis from being boarded, but they can also get parasites, and can eat things that they shouldn't. From your description, she does sound quite ill, and it would probably be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine her and see what is going on,and get treatment for her so that she is healthy again. I hope that she is okay soon.

July 28, 2020

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Jack Russell Terrier

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea, No Appetite, Lethargy

Should I take him to the vet? This started yesterday and today he won’t eat.

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I think, given his age, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, yes. Older dogs can get dehydrated quickly, and he may need some Medical Care. Your veterinarian can examine him, see what might be going on, and get treatment for him. I hope that he feels better soon.

July 25, 2020

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Anatolian Shepherd

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Six

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Unknown severity

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Gastroenteritis

My dog has been in and out of emergency vet this weekend and they did x rays and blood work. They assume it is gastroenteritis. They gave him antibiotics Sunday and Entyce to get him to eat. He still isn’t eating, is very lethargic and is panting a lot. Is this normal? They want to do an ultrasound because the panting and no interest in food after three doses of entyce is odd. I am struggling to afford things and wanted to get a second opinion if this seems normal or not.

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that your dog is having problems. That does sound like there's more going on than a simple gastroenteritis, and without seeing the blood work, unfortunately, I'm not really able to comment on what else might be happening. I do think that you can tell your veterinarian that cost is a concern, as that is fairly common with most people, and see if there are other possible treatments that they would consider before doing the ultrasound. If they feel that the ultrasound is what they need to do next, then I would probably trust them on that. I hope that they are able to figure out what's going on and that your dog feels better soon.

July 21, 2020

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Maggie

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Golden Retriever

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Vomiting
Poor Appetite

My golden retriever threw up all day yesterday and and was lethargic and not eating. We took her to the vet this morning and they diagnosed her with a stomach bug. They put her on an ani neasea, antibiotic, and fluids. She seems better and was eating some bland rice and chicken and seemed a little more alert, but now she is feeling worse. She can barley stand up and move and will not eat anything. The vets saw the bloody stool in her colon and said it should pass. It hasn't yet and we feel she is getting worse. Maybe the food made her feel worse? She hasn't gotten sick since we took her today.

Aug. 13, 2018

Maggie's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It will take a few days to see lasting improvement in symptoms and it is possible that the anti nausea medication is wearing off, however you should give the medication as prescribed and monitor for improvement; if there is no improvement or symptoms get worse visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

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Chester

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Boarder terrier

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22 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Diarrhoea And Vomit

My dog has been ill for several days now and is frequently ill, he lost his appetite but has gained it back very slightly. He would only drink water he also has diarrhoea. He is a bit mopey and isn't as keen to go on walks as he was. Chester is often ill and I don't know if it's gastroenteritis or he has some sort of stomach problem, because he's been ill before but not like this and not for as long. I haven't gone to the vet yet either. He also have blood in his stool and sick which is really worrying not a lot of it, but enough for me to see. He has been ill for 4 days now and I hate to see it!

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Darby

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Pit bull

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Lethargy
Weakness
Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite

My dog has had diarrhea and vomiting for the last few days. He stopped eating his regular kibble, so I switched his diet to boiled chicken and rice. He ate the bland diet ravenously, but was unable to keep it down. Yesterday, I withheld food to see if that would help. He continues to have watery, orange-yellow diarrhea and is having accidents/going to the bathroom in the house, which is uncharacteristic of him. In addition, he has become lethargic and weak. He does not want to go on his usual walks - just outside to do his business and immediately back in. He hesitates to climb the three stairs to get back into my apartment building. I have an appointment with the veterinarian on Monday (today is a Friday), but I'm concerned that will be too late.

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PEPPER

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Rottweiler

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4 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting Diarrhea Lethargic

I have a rottweiler puppy and she has been vomiting for two days straight . she has lost her appetite and drinks only water and after sometime she vomits the water out with foamy consistency . she's become weak . I took her to the vet and the doctor gave her two injections (for vomiting ,antibiotic) and told me to get her back tomorrow for the same injection , after her injection also she keeps vomiting and doesn't eat anything (curd rice suggested by the doctor), her stool is very watery and sometimes pudding consistency and comes in drops and I see her struggle and it really pains to watch her struggle so much . please tell me what to do ?

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Jess

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Border Collie

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhoea Vomiting Normal Temp.

Last Friday morning our Border Collie was spayed at our local vet and let home pm. Saturday AM she was given 2 x Rheumocam and appeared fine until Sunday mid morning (28hrs) when she started with very liquid diarrhoea and by 6pm was vomiting as well. We visited our vet who gave her Cerenia and Ranitidine injections. She had no food only water overnight, but this morning we discovered our kitchen covered in what appeared to be small pools of blood, but later discovered it was faecal liquid containing heavy amounts of blood. We immediately attended the vet who put her on a drip and has kept her at the surgery. Can this be attributed to gastroenteritis? She was inside the house since the operation so has had no contact with any usual source of infection and we are baffled as to where she has caught it. The timescales involved are confusing us! She is a very fit 4 year old dog. Please have you any ideas?

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Siqua

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Australian Shepherd

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating Foo

My 13 year old Aussie was Gastroenteritis treatment at vet home care she is drinking but has been 5 days she refuses food still drinking yes to appetite stimulant med I'm worried we have tried everything

Gastroenteritis Average Cost

From 71 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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