Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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 corticosteroids, 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.
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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 that stimulates stomach acids)
  • 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)
  • Corticosteroid use
  • Long term or high dose 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, complete blood count as well as a full serum chemistry profile. They may advise a liver function test to look for liver disease if liver enzymes are elevated. Another test which may be ordered is the adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation test to check your pet’s adrenal glands, ruling in or out Cushing's disease and Addison's disease.

Imaging tests, such as radiographs, 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. 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.

Stomach and intestinal ulcers can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has ulcers or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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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.

Medication, 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 and blood transfusions will be needed.

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Worried about the cost of Stomach Intestinal Ulcers treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Dogs

As with all recovery protocols, 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

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Bailey

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Havanese

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11 Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Tarry Stool
Weight Loss
Nausea
Fatigue
Weakness
Loss Of Appetite
Fever

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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0 Recommendations

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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0 found helpful

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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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Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$2,200

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