What is Stomach Disorder (Loss of Motility)?
Gastric motility is the typical stomach movements which help the digestion process, while allowing the broken down foods to move into the small intestine. Stomach disorder (loss of motility) in dogs is a result of the stomach not emptying properly into the intestines, thus causing fluid and food retention, lack of appetite, upset stomach, and a distended stomach. In normal motility function of the stomach, food should be emptied after six to eight hours after an average-sized meal. This is an approximate time span as every dog is different and it does depend on the type of food ingested. This disorder is more common in younger dogs than in aging canines and can occur in many different dog breeds. There are many symptoms that can occur with this illness, and some are much more common than others. Since there are so many different symptoms, the veterinarian will need to do several different tests to rule out any other disorders, or secondary disorders causing the loss of motility in the stomach.
Stomach disorder (loss of motility) in dogs is a condition in which a dog’s ability to move food particles through the stomach and into the intestines is hindered.
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Symptoms of Stomach Disorder (Loss of Motility) in Dogs
When dogs suffer from a stomach disorder (loss of motility), they exhibit certain stomach ailments. Symptoms of this disorder include:
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen stomach or abdomen area
- Pain due to stomach blockage
- Loss of weight
There are differential diagnoses to stomach disorders due to loss of motility in dogs. They include:
- Foreign body in gastrointestinal tract
- Renal dysfunction
- Chronic gastritis
Causes of Stomach Disorder (Loss of Motility) in Dogs
When a dog suffers from stomach motility disorder, and the disorder is primary (not due to other conditions), the cause is idiopathic, or of unknown origin. Secondary causes of this condition include:
- Abnormal activity of stomach muscles
- Stress or trauma
- Low blood potassium levels
- Too much urea in the blood
- Too much nitrogenous waste in the blood
- Hepatic encephalopathy
- Anticholinergic medications
- Beta blockers
- Stomach ulcers
- Stomach surgery
- Parvovirus infection
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Enterogastric reflux
- Autonomic nervous system disorders
Diagnosis of Stomach Disorder (Loss of Motility) in Dogs
If your dog is having any of the above symptoms, a visit to the veterinarian is necessary. The doctor will perform complete blood testing, urinalysis, an electrolyte profile to check for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, imaging techniques of the abdomen, a barium test to take a closer look at the stomach’s movements, an ultrasound, and an endoscopy to look at abdominal organs. An endoscopy also allows the medical professional to look for any tumors, masses, blockages, or abnormal cells of the stomach, and can also be used to collect a sample for a biopsy. Internal tests such as the above methods give the veterinarian a much better insight as to how the food is being processed and moved through the body. The imaging allows the medical professional to get a closer look at what can be causing the symptoms.
Treatment of Stomach Disorder (Loss of Motility) in Dogs
Treatment depends on the severity of the case. Many dogs that suffer from stomach motility issues are put on outpatient care with specific medications and instructions by the veterinarian. For more severe cases, treatment can include the following:
Gastric prokinetic agents will be given to the dog to help with motility disorders. They stimulate the stomach’s movement into the intestines and promote a smooth transition for emptying of contents.
Fluid replacement is required to have your dog feeling better; this will help with any dehydration. Electrolytes are also given to the dog, as electrolytes are vital for normally functioning body systems.
In severe cases of loss of stomach motility in dogs, hospitalization is necessary. This is to keep an observation on the dog while he is getting fluids and electrolytes. Also, if there is a blockage, surgery may be required to treat the blockage, and for this, the dog will need to be in the hospital.
Recovery of Stomach Disorder (Loss of Motility) in Dogs
Dietary restrictions will need to be watched and adhered to for the dog to digest his food much better. Diets given for this disorder have a lot of moisture and are low in fiber and fat. Small portions are highly recommended for dogs with this disorder as well. Once the dog has received treatment via medications and fluids, and once the diet has begun, he should show remarkable improvement. If you see any signs of him not improving, it is important to take him back to the doctor for a follow-up visit to further investigate his condition.
Stomach Disorder (Loss of Motility) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Dot has been vomiting up bile and gagging for about two weeks. She was still eating and even excited about food. However, the past few days she's refused food entirely. She's still drinking small amounts of water.
Her stomach gurgles and she whines. She's losing weight rapidly.
We aren't quite sure what's wrong. I've taken her to two vets... Blood and fecal tests are normal. Her teeth were just cleaned and inspected (including mouth and throat while she was sedated). They did xrays and saw some gas in esophagus and stomach but didn't see anything that they felt could explain this. They are planning more tests (sonogram).
Over the past she has periodically vomited foam/bile mid morning. Vet suggested switching to smaller meals a few times a day to treat. In the past the vomiting seemed unrelated, she'd vomit and immediately eat afterwards. Up until the morning she refused food entirely.
Something like four months ago she had a bout of what they thought was pancreatitis, and it resolved after antibiotics and a bland diet. She's been losing weight ever since, but we attributed it to a switch to a lower fat diet (to prevent any future pancreas problems).
So I've been looking around the internet trying to see if I could find something that's a good fit? I think that the vet is great but doesn't have as much time with me/my dog so maybe there is a clue somewhere.
Any ideas? Suggestions?
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My dog has been diagnosed with mil pancreatitis. No vomiting and he is quite bright and playful however the lipase was high and further tests showed low abdominal motility and pancreatitis. He doesn’t have much of an appetite though and is not hospitalized and on fluids. Could you tell me the recovery rate for such a case
Is it in fact something he can completely recover from though?
Hello Dr King,
The ultrasound showed no signs of pancreatitis at all, it wasn’t till we did further blood tests. He isn’t vomiting and hasn’t been throughout. He has already been on an IV for 24 hours, and receiving medication, so I want to make sure that at this point he can’t get worse since we caught it in time. Him being on medications etc could he still make a turn for the worse or have we caught it in time.
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