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What are Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers?

In order for the gastrointestinal barrier to function and protect, there are specific conditions that need to be met. Support for the mucosa comes from epithelial cells that are capable of spreading in order to cover defects in the barrier, adequate blood flow through the mucosa, and a mucus/bicarbonate layer offering protection. The three most common causes of stomach and intestinal (duodenal) ulcers in dogs are hepatic (liver) disease, use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and neoplasia (abnormal growth of cells).

The mucosa of the stomach and intestine normally offer protection from acid-induced injury. If the gastric acid secretion increases substantially, or if there is an upset in the normal protective function of the gastrointestinal mucosa, your dog may get an ulcer. Disruption to the mucosal barrier can result independently or as a result of a secondary cause.

Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Average Cost

From 56 quotes ranging from $300 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs

Though some dogs with stomach or intestinal ulcers may not show symptoms, it is unusual. If your pet is exhibiting any of the symptoms below, a visit to the veterinary clinic is necessary:

  • Anemia (an iron deficiency due to chronic bleeding)
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Vomiting; there may be the presence of blood (hematemesis)
  • Pallor of mucous membrane due to severe bleeding
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Weakness
  • Stool that appears black due to presence of blood (melena)
  • Increased salivation
  • Abdominal distention
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Shock
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Causes of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs

If there is an excess of acid and pepsin or a breakdown in protection for the stomach and intestine, an ulcer will form. Without treatment, there is the risk of perforation of the ulcer, which can quickly lead to septic peritonitis and death. Causes of stomach and intestinal ulcers are many, some of which are listed below:

  • Gastrinoma (tumor in pancreas or duodenum)
  • Ingestion of poison or toxin
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Chronic gastritis
  • Lymphoma
  • Adenocarcinoma (tumor in epithelial tissue)
  • Helicobacter (bacterium that causes chronic inflammation in stomach)
  • Hepatopathy (congestion in liver that results from venous congestion usually in right side heart failure)
  • Excess of extreme exercise
  • Shock
  • Hepatic disease (can cause increased gastric acid secretion and changes in mucosal blood flow)
  • Corticosteroids used for spinal disease, renal disease or stress
  • NSAID use can cause direct damage to the stomach and intestinal mucosa
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Diagnosis of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs

After a physical examination and collection of notes on your pet’s medical history, the veterinarian will suggest a urinalysis and liver function test to look for liver disease. It's important to understand that a complete blood count as well as a full serum chemistry profile may reflect secondary causes for the ulcer. Another test which may be ordered is the adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation test to check your pet’s adrenal glands.

Imaging tests, such as radiograph, will not accurately identify an ulcer but will rule out instances like an obstruction. An ultrasound may be able to identify a gastrointestinal mass, but gas may interfere with the image.

The best test to diagnose a stomach or intestinal ulcer or lesion is the gastroscopy. With this type of test, the veterinarian can view the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and colon. After viewing, choosing to do a biopsy must be carefully considered because of the risk of perforation of the ulcer. Sometimes, a surgical biopsy is necessary. A test of the PH of the gastric fluid may be done as well.

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Treatment of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs

The veterinarian will explain that treating the underlying cause of the ulcers is an important part of the medical care required to heal your pet. In the meantime, immediate care will begin with intravenous fluids if necessary, depending on the present condition of your dog.

Antidotes, such as Cimetidine, will be given to reduce gastric acidity. Preventing more damage to the mucosa is very important so steps will be taken to ensure this happens, including more prescriptions of medication. It should be noted that the drugs may need to be given for a period of six to eight weeks.

Antacids and additional drugs aimed at promoting healing must be given on a frequent basis in order to prevent the return of the previous gastric acidity. Careful scheduling of all medications is a must because some must be taken without food or other drugs in the system.

If bacteria is a concern, antibiotics will be prescribed as well. If there is the unfortunate circumstance of life-threatening hemorrhaging due to the ulcers, or if the ulcers cannot be dealt with through medical therapy and medication alone, surgery will be needed.

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Recovery of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs

As with all recovery protocol, rest and quiet are always recommended upon return home from the clinic. As stress can irritate and contribute to ulcers, a comfortable spot for your dog to lie, in a room away from the normal busyness of home, is highly suggested.

The veterinarian will advise on the regimen for feeding after treatment or surgery. Drinking water must be accessible at all times. Small meals, several times throughout the day may be the suggestion, in order to put less pressure on the stomach and intestine.

You should expect to see some sort of improvement in your dog within a few days, but keep in mind that recovery from an ulceration can take up to a few weeks. The prognosis is good (as long as the underlying cause can be resolved) for stomach and intestinal ulcers that can be treated with medication. If there has been liver or kidney complications, the prognosis may be more guarded. If there are abnormal cell growth or tumors, the end result will depend upon the eradication of the masses, if possible, and the health status of your pet upon the discovery of the ulcers.

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Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Average Cost

From 56 quotes ranging from $300 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Bailey

dog-breed-icon

Havanese

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Tarry Stool
Weight Loss
Fever
Weakness
Loss Of Appetite
Fatigue
Nausea

Hi my dog Bailey has been not doing the best for a while now, about 2 months ago she had an episode of old dog vestibular disease and never fully recovered from it. But recently she has gotten worse, she has not motivation and spend most of the day sleeping, will no longer eat hard food, black tarry stool, and has a fever. We took her to the vet for some tests and her blood tests came back with high proteins and red blood cells. That vet couldn't tell us anything on the spot other than that it might be an ulcer, so I was just wondering if their was anything that jumped out on your mind that could help. Thanks! (she is on antibiotics and anti-nausea at the moment)

June 7, 2018

Bailey's Owner

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There are many different possibilities that need to be narrowed down including gastrointestinal ulceration (fits well with the symptoms), dehydration (everything increases relatively but albumin globulin ratio will remain normal), infections, inflammation, some cancers among other causes. See how the prescribed treatment goes and return to your Veterinarian if there is no improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 8, 2018

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Dbo

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American/English bulldog

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My dog hasn’t been acting himself for the past month . The first time he started acting different was when I picked him up from the groomers he didn’t even want to walk. When we got home he laid in the same spot for hours. After two days and a trip to the vet he was back to himself then about a week or two later he started walking slower, still eats and drinks, his poop is less and dark cooper color almost a blackish red . We thought he might be bloated his stomach gets hard. One day it seemed larger, but then it went back to normal. We just started feeding him boiled chicken and plain rice. I’ve been reading about ulcers thought maybe he might have one?

May 7, 2018

Dbo's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Generally in cases of gastrointestinal ulceration the faeces are black and tarry due to the blood being digested; any fresh blood may be caused by infections, parasites, tumours, poisoning or another cause. A bland diet of chicken and rice may help especially as you monitor for improvement, but if there is no improvement you should visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 7, 2018

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Cole

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Chow Chow

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Stomach Pain

My 11 yr old chow started with what we thought was bloat. After he ate, his side became very hard. He also would yip in pain.With out food for half a day, was back to normal. We took him in to have ex-rays,ultra sound and blood work. the only thing the vet seen was a fuzzy image on the end of his gull bladder. Told us he did not have an answer.His stool was black and hard for about a week.We have him on Gastro food and boiled chicken.His stool now is very little but normal. After he eat his stomach again is hard and he is in pain and very slouched stance for hrs. We've been giving him gas-X, which I think help somewhat.We can't get in to see a specialist for another week. Was wondering if this could be an ulcer or a form of stomach cancer. He has been eating half his normal meal,now 1/2 a cup and drinking some.He Has had this for 3 weeks now. Some days after eating just stands and shivers. Any thoughts

April 24, 2018

Cole's Owner

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It is difficult to say what is causing this issue with Cole, the fuzziness on the gall bladder may be something or nothing; I would have taken another x-ray or done an ultrasound to get a better image. Black faeces can be an indicator of bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract which may be caused by ulcers, cancer, poisoning among other causes. I cannot say with any certainty what the cause is, but the Specialist will go over everything with you. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 25, 2018

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Finn

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schnauzer

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Dark Stool

When I took my dog for a walk today, his poop was dark black and loose. Other than that, he acts completely fine and eating/drinking normal. Not sure what to do.

April 11, 2018

Finn's Owner


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Dark black stool may be an indicator of digested blood which may be due to an upper gastrointestinal tract bleed or the consumption of raw blood (think raw diet); if Finn is otherwise in good spirits keep an on him for the time being but you should visit your Veterinarian if the dark stool continues since this may be an indicator for ulcers, tumours, other bleeds among other conditions. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 11, 2018

My dog is 1 yr old . He fell down from terrace i.e 15 feet down . He got fractured and doctors diagnose that he has liver infection . He vomits dark in colulour and stools aee also black . Can anyone suggest what is going with my pet

May 19, 2018

Yashmeet C.

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Louie

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Pit bull

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Considering trying the Royal CANIN gastrointestinal food for my guy who we think has stomach ulcers, I say we think because he is vet aggressive so we have been treating it as such. Overall he is doing somewhat better after being on Famotidine over a month and just finished the carafate treatment but now he’s throwing up again and not really wanting food. I can’t help but think food is related. He’s in Pinnacle duck and sweet potato wet and dry limited ingredient. Sometimes he is starving and wanting food and other days he looks miserable and zero interest even if I mix it with rice. I just don’t know what the next step is. My vet won’t see him unless he is sedated.

March 22, 2018

Louie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without seeing him, or knowing more about his health status, I can't comment on treatment for him. Lab work and an abdominal ultrasound may be in order to try and determine the cause of his GI issues, If he needs to be sedated to be examined, that may be something that needs to happen in order to pinpoint the right diagnosis and treatment for him.

March 22, 2018

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Pirrin

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Bull Terrier miniature

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Black Tarry Stools
Casual Vomits

My dog had a knee surgery last Tuesday (8th January) everything was good until Saturday night she started vomiting, the vet prescribed her primperan to control vomiting but on Monday she pooped black tarry stools, the vet immediatly suspended the previcox NSAID, on Tuesday she poooed again black tarry stools and the vet decided to change the antibiotics. She is feeling good, with energy (considering she just had knee surgery) her Gums are ok, she has appetite. All evidence seems to indicate that the NSAID is responsible for the black tarry stools but what else can we do to solve this issue? Thank you very much

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Lucy

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Cocker Spaniel

dog-age-icon

18 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Our 18 month old cocker spaniel "Lucy" found a bottle of Advil last night. I noticed she had it and immediately gave her some hydrogen peroxide. She vomited everything up and I found most, if not all, of the pills. She acted fine the rest of the night eating and drinking and playing as normal. She's throwing up a little bit of blood this morning. Her gums seem pink and she's acting bright and happy. How long until she's out of the woods?

Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Average Cost

From 56 quotes ranging from $300 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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