What is Endoscopy?

Gastrointestinal exams in dogs usually require an endoscopy. This procedure will help your veterinarian determine the root cause of any gastrointestinal issues your dog may be experiencing such as vomiting, gagging, diarrhea, weight loss, or loss of appetite. The endoscope, which is a flexible tube with a camera or small viewport, will be inserted into your dog’s stomach or intestinal tract through the mouth or the rectum. If going in through the mouth to inspect the stomach, the esophagus can be inspected as well.

An endoscopy will help with the diagnosis of stricture, abnormal cells, or tumors as well as in retrieving a foreign object if one is present.

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Endoscopy Procedure in Dogs

Your dog will need to be clear of all foods and fecal matter before a gastrointestinal endoscopy is performed. Depending on the internal location of the endoscope inspection, a full 12 to 18 hour fast will be required of your dog to clear their system. At least one enema may be required before the procedure. Depending on the size of your dog and fullness of intestinal tract, more may be necessary.

Because an endoscopy allows for full viewing of the esophagus, stomach, intestinal tract, and/or colon, your dog will be under anesthesia during the procedure. Most dogs only require a short-acting anesthesia.

An endoscope is a finite tool with a tiny camera or open-ended view point to view the tract as the scope enters and travels through the dog’s body. The endoscope will be inserted into your dog’s stomach or intestinal tract through the mouth or the rectum and advanced to visualize the required area. If a biopsy or removal of a foreign body is required, an additional device can be passed through the endoscope to perform other procedures as needed. 

Efficacy of Endoscopy in Dogs

Endoscopy is the best method for discovery and a definitive diagnosis when inspecting for clear reasons. An endoscope gives your veterinarian a full-color view in real time of the tracts which require inspection. A pathologist will want to review the findings as well, but with an endoscopy, your veterinarian will be able to have a full view of any trouble areas. If your dog is experiencing stomach or esophageal issues, an endoscopy will give a color view of matters as well as the means to remove any foreign object blockage. If tumors are present, the endoscope can act as a cell retrieval tool for a biopsy on the spot. For other issues, an endoscopy can provide the internal view your pet cannot talk about. Ulcers can be painful, but treated with medications and diet changes. An endoscopy can be useful in diagnosing those conditions which can be healed with special diet and medications.

For discovery, there may be alternatives to an endoscopy such as X-rays or ultrasounds. However, if retrieval of a foreign object or the need for a biopsy arises, an endoscopy may still be required.

Endoscopy Recovery in Dogs

Recovery after an endoscopy is relatively easy and quick for most dogs. Your dog should be sent home soon after the procedure. Once your dog is awake and responding to care, he should be able to head home for rest.

Depending on the nature of the endoscopy, your dog may return to play time and meals very quickly. If the endoscopy resulted in a biopsy, the pathology report may take a week to be returned to you and your veterinarian. If the endoscopy is meant for discovery, your veterinarian will discuss next steps and options with you. If the procedure was to find and remove a foreign object, other than soreness your dog may experience initially, you and your dog should be able to get back to life right after the endoscopy and waking from anesthesia. 

Cost of Endoscopy in Dogs

Endoscopies for dogs usually cost between $800 and $2,000. This cost will vary depending on the scope of the treatment, the site of the endoscope insertion and areas of exploratory inspection, the medications required, such as the anesthesia, and your veterinarian’s fees. Endoscopies are often considered a last resort for discovery of foreign objects and digestive issues. There are alternative procedures such as X-rays and ultrasounds which will cost less, roughly between $200 and $500 for either depending on the size of the dog and location for discovery inspection. However, it is important to remember an endoscopy still may be required if the X-ray or ultrasound give a reason for further inspections, removal of foreign objects, or a biopsy.

Dog Endoscopy Considerations

Be sure you understand why your veterinarian is requesting an endoscopy. If severe stomach or esophageal issues are suspected, an endoscope will best determine the root of the problem. If your dog has eaten or digested something he should not have and it has caused a blockage, the endoscopy can not only detect the obstruction but also remove it. An endoscopy can also work as a biopsy tool when tumors are found by way of discovery through an endoscope.

Depending on the scope of the necessary endoscopy, it may be difficult to inspect all the areas necessary for full diagnosis. Gastrointestinal endoscopes can be inserted through the dog’s mouth or rectum, but the entire view of the intestinal tract may not always be available.

Consider and talk to your veterinarian about alternatives to an endoscopy which can also give views of potential trouble areas and concerns. 

Endoscopy Prevention in Dogs

Dogs are often found chewing on objects they should not be ingesting. A common reason for an endoscopy is to discover and retrieve a foreign object such as rawhide, string, or bones. Watch your dogs, especially puppies, closely as they play, eat, and chew. Leave them only puppy-safe toys with digestible materials and take away any bones they have broken which are small enough to block a passage or sharp enough to cause a tear as they swallow.

Keep your dog on a healthy diet which properly changes as they grow. Keep people food out of the dog’s diet. Try to maintain a healthy weight, a healthy diet, and daily exercise for your dog.

If you notice unusual persistent vomiting or diarrhea, either incessant or repetitive, especially after meals, alert your veterinarian.

An endoscope is useful for many reasons. Keeping your dog healthy and away from foreign objects which need medical intervention is the best way to avoid a foreign object endoscope retrieval.

Endoscopes are effective for diagnosing injuries from trauma or illness. Running tests such as CBC, X-rays, and ultrasounds may give your veterinarian answers without the more invasive endoscopy.

Though many cancer sources are unknown, leading a healthy lifestyle with your dog will improve and increase their lifespan. Poor diet, minimal exercise, and second-hand smoke can cause cancer cell growth.

Endoscopy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Niko
Boxer
7 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Medication Used

Sucralfate

We have a 7 month old male boxer puppy. Noticed him coughing/wretching after napping over the course of a few months (he didn't have this issue when we first got him). Despite my concern, the vet wrote it off as being normal for brachycephalic dogs. Last month he aspirated on his own vomit which caused aspiration pneumonia. He has been underweight since we got him at 8 weeks old, so I have been desperately trying to fatten him up with quality high protein/fat foods for most of his short life. GERD didn't even occur to us, but now I feel like I caused this chronic issue from pushing all that rich food on him - is that even possible? He always had a few tummy issues long before this (vomiting, intermittent diarrhea) but giardia was the culprit. Therefore lots of antibiotics. To get back some of his gut flora I have been doing probiotics/proenzymes. But he now has extreme GERD which doesn't seem to want to subside. I have him on pepcid ac twice a day, plus sucralfate slurry for his throat (45 minutes apart to allow pepcid to work its magic). I have him on prescription diet (royal canin gastro active - which is not my idea of proper nutrition by any means), but it seems to be helping a tiny bit, I think. The vet did some blood work and found his creat urea (BUN) was elevated - 10-58(?), suggesting possible kidney issues - not sure if that's related. She also did followup X-rays and did not notice an enlarged esophagus. Her next course of action is ultrasound, and then if nothing is found she wants to do a scope. So now I have this poor pup with a severe case of GERD, who is drastically underweight (you can see all his ribs, hip bones and some of his spine). No matter what I feed him (and I've tried everything), getting him to eat without regurgitating is impossible and he just can't tolerate high fat foods for obvious reasons. Also, it's important to note he is super active and energetic, doesn't look/act sick at all. Does any of this sound familiar? Should we just suck it up and jump right to the scope? Thank you so much in advance!!!!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1488 Recommendations
Whilst I understand that his esophagus is normal, it may still be worth try to feed him in an upright position like a Bailey Chair and leaving him in it for around 20 minutes after eating which may be difficult but could help him keep his food down; also feeding small meals more often may also be helpful. Endoscopy would be useful to visualise the lower esophageal sphincter to see if it is closing properly. It is difficult to think about what may be happening without going on a tangent; the BUN should be monitored regularly and urinalysis may also be useful too. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Miley
Dachshund
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

8-16-17 vet did blood draw(small animal) and Animal Profile 15 and Radiograph. All came back normal.
Dog had no fever, normal stool and appetite. What else can we do before we do endoscopy?
Gurgling sounds, left nostril excretes phlegm,
Excessive sneezing numerous times a day.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1488 Recommendations
There are a few different causes for the symptoms which you are describing which may include infection, allergies, polyps and foreign bodies; I understand you may be trying to avoid endoscopy due to the cost but the cumulative costs of other tests may turn out to cost more with still no cause, at least with endoscopy (rhinoscopy for the nose) will allow your Veterinarian to directly visualise any lesion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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