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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.

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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Endoscopy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Malti-Poo

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Fever, Difficulty Swallowing, Drooling

My dog has had a fever, difficulty swallowing and drooling from her left side of her mouth for 2 weeks now. She has a history of glaucoma from a erlichia infection. She has had CBC, Lipase and erlichia titer tests. She has also had a X-ray and ultrasound. Barium scan as well. The dr can't figure out why she is having difficulty swallowing and why she has the fever. What do you think is causing this problem and what else should we do?

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- I’m sorry your pet is not feeling well. At this point I would highly recommend considering seeing an internist to further work up her problem. Since she is not improving they will be able to run further tests such as endoscopy to examine the throat and esophagus to see what the issue is. It sounds like your vet has done a great job working your pet up so far. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out the underlying problem and further testing is needed. I hope she feels better soon.

July 31, 2020

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Finn

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Golden Retriever

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9 Weeks

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Ingestion Of Foreign Objects

Puppy swallowed coin earlier today. X-ray suggested it was a quarter. Primary vet does not have endoscopy capabilities and other local vet offered a quote of $4K+. Local internist consulted but stated not emergency, so wait until Monday, even if a penny. Primary was not confident but deferred to internist. Waiting on internist is much more feasible for me, financially. That said - I want to do what is right for my puppy. Following up with primary tomorrow, while I await pre-authorization. Advised to not feed tonight, as concerns are with aspiration or binding the coin and pushing it further. Acceptable to wait until Monday, to see the internist? Or should I focus on trying to get this removed ASAP? Sent home with a bolus of SQ fluids.

Sept. 8, 2018

Finn's Owner

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Finn

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Golden Retriever

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9 Weeks

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swallowed Coin

Puppy swallowed probably a quarter - X-rays showed it in his stomach. My vet could only offer surgery but another local vet, could do endoscopy, at $4K+. Internist my vet usually uses is more affordable but not available until Monday. Suggested that would be fine, even if a penny. My vet was slightly concerned but deferred to the internist. Advised to not feed, due to possible aspiration OR potential binding and pushing coin further along. Home with me tonight and back tomorrow for follow-up (waiting on pre-authorization for scope). Thoughts on waiting until Monday, for traveling internist to come? And should I be feeding him during this time? Showing no issues whatsoever and only reason for waiting would be cost benefit. If insurance approval comes through tonight, none of the financial concerns will exist.

Sept. 7, 2018

Finn's Owner

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Puff

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Shitztu

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10 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Constipation

My 10 lb shihtzu swallowed a very small avocado pit (they have mini avocados now) on Saturday. Today is now Wednesday and she has vomited once daily. Her appetite is regular and she is drinking water. She has had only one known bowel movements since and is acting normal. 1) could the avocado pit have been broken down and digested with the vomiting a response to the toxins in the pit 2) should she get an endoscopy to reveal the truth since I have not seen another bowel movement

Aug. 1, 2018

Puff's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

The avocado pit is not digestible and this is why we get concerned about a gastrointestinal obstruction; the first step would be to visit your Veterinarian for an x-ray so we know where it is because if it has somehow passed through the stomach to the intestines then endoscopy wouldn’t be an option and surgery would be required. As a Veterinarian I prefer pitless avocados (see link below). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/07/marks-and-spencer-stoneless-avocado

Aug. 2, 2018

Hello Dr. Turner....we took Puff to the vet and they took 2xrays showing a lot of poop but no avocado pit. Sent home with a laxative and had poop success with no more vomiting as of yet. The avocado pit hasn't been found yet and is still a mystery...! Thank you for your response and advice, but unfortunately we can't wait until December to eat seedless avocados!

Aug. 3, 2018

Puff's Owner

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Pippa

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Daschund

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Vomiting
Lethargic
Not Eating

Pippa has been lethargic and not eating with her usual gusto for past month. Started vomited last week and stopped eating altogether. Blood work, pancreatitis test, xray, ultrasound all normal. Some fluid in stomach. Hospitalized for for 3 days with all tests repeated. Released 2 days ago. Still not eating and has severe diarrhea. They cannot determine a cause. Would an endoscopy give us an answer?

July 31, 2018

Pippa's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing more information, I have a hard time commenting on what might be going on with Pippa, but I am sorry that she is having this problem. If she isn't on any medications, there are some that may help, to stop her vomiting and diarrhea and get things moving in her GI tract. If she is already on medications, and your veterinarian is suggesting that endoscopy and/or biopsies may help to find out what is wrong with her, that may be the next step for her. Since your veterinarian knows much more about her situation than I do, it would be very reasonable to ask them to explain more what the benefits of the endoscopy might be.

July 31, 2018

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Pippi

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Leonberger

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Gagging
Choking
Hacking

Our dog had an endoscopy on Tuesday night to have a ball of grass and leaves removed from her stomach. Prior to the procedure, she was acting normally aside from 1) trying to eat a lot of plants any time she went for a walk and 2) then choking/hacking/gagging once she had gotten a few bites of plants. She had vomited grass a few times, but was still eating normally, going to the bathroom, and had normal energy levels. It's unclear what made her so nauseated initially that she consumed so much plant material. During the endoscopy the vet noticed some mild stomach irritation, likely from the grass and leaves having been in her stomach for several days. A few days later, post-endoscopy, she is not trying to eat plants when we go outside (implying her nausea has abated). However, she still gags/hacks (no vomiting) a few times a day, especially if she's gotten excited or been active. She's also less interested in drinking water, but is still consuming some. Is it normal to have some sensitivity after the procedure? She currently gets 40mg of Prilosec/Omeprazole 1X day to help. She's back on regular kibble - appetite remains very good.

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Balu

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large mix

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14 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite

My dog who is both large and old (14) wasn't feeling well and after xrays it was discovered that he has a plastic toy lodged in his stomach. Probably been there for a few weeks .... his only symptoms that made me take him in for a check up was that he wasn't eating much and he was having trouble walking - wobbly hind legs, losing his balance, and rapid breathing. The vet suggested offered an endoscopy to see if maybe taking out the foriegn object will perk him up. HIs blood results are ok, there doesn't seem to be any problems other than old age. I don't know if to put him through the procedure is a good idea, or if it will even help ... any advice?? Its been a few days and as of now he isn't even able to stand. I need to deciede today ...

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Bella

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea Vomit

My 18 month old Am Staff has had on and off spouts of diarrhea and vomiting I’ve the last 9 months. We’ve tried many foods, Done tons of blood work, ultrasounds, etc. My vet thinks it’s IBD. What now? My vet is recommending an internal med vet. What can they tell us differently? If they want to do an endoscopy, what can that tell us besides confirm it’s IBD? Then what? Trying to figure out if we should just keep her on the RC GI canned food, which is expensive but causes no issues. It’s when we try to incorporate a kibble dry food that she has issues

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Oscar

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Shih Tzu

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Loss Of Appetite
Cough

My 7 yr old male shih tzu has developed a loud, hacking, wet cough. His eating is spotty. He sometimes turns down eggs, bacon and ham (though hamburger seems to work). His energy level is low. We have gone through 3 cycles of antibiotics with no change and his white blood cell count is elevated. Xrays show no tracheal collapse and what might be a lung congestion (vet does 't believe it is cancer). Poor little guy has been this way for a month now. Vet says the next step is a 'scope' but he is dubious as to what it will tell us. What are your thoughts and suggestions? I'm not ready to be without Oscar. We need each other. Thanks.

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Boots

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Mini Aussie

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomitting And Coughing

Boots has had chronic vomiting of stomach bile since around 8 months of age. He also has had chronic and progressing coughing fits after drinking water since around the same age. He has had X-ray done for collapsed trachea which was negative. Prilosec has decreased the vomit episodes to 0 since he’s been on it. Vet now wants to do an endoscopy for cough and vomit fits to see if it’s related and get down to a conclusion. Unsure if this is the move I should make. There’s hundreds of different diagnoses with his symptoms. He also is displaying premature greying around his muzzle as of the last three months