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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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Ask a Vet

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Teddy

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maltipom

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My dog had a treat stuck and did endoscopy to remove it. It was removed successfully and the dr said theres just very minor irritation so he doesnt need any meds, just soft diet & monitoring. However, my dog started to gag once in a while and it sounds like there might be some mucus he is trying to cough out? He does this after waking up as well. Could this be just soreness from procedure, any signs that are expected? Has been approx 12 hrs after procedure right now.

July 31, 2018

Teddy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

I would not be surprised 12 hours after that procedure if Teddy has some irritation in his throat. If he isn't eating, or seems lethargic, or the gagging continues for more than 24 hours, a recheck with your veterinarian would be a good idea.

July 31, 2018

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Mucki

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Jack Russell Terrier

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Reguration

Reguration. At least once a month. Last year when it started he had it every day for weeks. Did x rays. Found nothing then period with bad vomiting. More x rays. Found nothing then more tests got diagnosed with giardia. Since that after eating something not normal or stress or to much water reguration. Weight goes up and down couple of pounds. Looks healthy. Not always eating well . On hills and En food with turkey pumpkin and yogurt. Very playful and active. All update on shots etc. I am worried about an enlargement of esophagus

July 24, 2018

Mucki's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Thankfully around once per month isn’t frequent, but we still need to understand why it is happening; if the cause was megaesophagus (enlarged esophagus) then we would expect to see the regurgitation more often. Megaesophagus may be detected on x-ray but it is best to be done with contrast media to get a more enhanced view of the esophagus; you should discuss your Veterinarian and think about eating habits and position. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 25, 2018

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Goofy

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Shih Tzu

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Heart Disease

My dog was diagnosed with heart disease about a month ago. At a follow up checkup a couple of weeks later, they noticed he had lost a significant amount of weight and were concerned. Since, he has lost a total of 3 pounds (he is normally 18.5), they suggested a stomach ultrasound to rule out cancer. He got his stomach ultra sound last week, but no tumors were found and the specialist believes it to be IBD, but thinks an endoscopy is necessary to properly diagnos and get some samples for biopsy. With his heart disease, this makes me really nervous. The specialist spoke to the cardiologist and they think it is safe to go through with the procedure, granted there is no fluid in his lungs (which will be determined the day of through X-ray). I would appreciate any advice and suggestions!! This boy is my baby and I wouldn't want to put him through any unnecessary risk..

June 5, 2018

Goofy's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Your concerns are understand especially when we’re thinking about our babies; however if the Specialist and the Cardiologist have cleared Goofy for the procedure I wouldn’t be too concerned, any decision is down to the Veterinarian who will carry out the procedure. As I haven’t examined Goofy I cannot give a differing opinion but would follow the guidance of the Specialist and Cardiologist. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 6, 2018

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Maya

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Golden Retriever

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11 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

Snoring, Breathes Very Loud, Tired

My golden retriever had her teeth cleaned about seven weeks ago and ever since she has been snoring and breathing loud and some times acts as though she will choke on her food. We since had been watering her food down and she seems fine with that. She is 11.5 years old as well. her Dr seems to think it could be upper respiratory issues as he suggested a scope but we recently found out those cost around 2,000.00. Any suggestions of what options we would have at this time.Could this be caused from her teeth cleaning at all.

May 23, 2018

Maya's Owner

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0 Recommendations

If a dog is intubated during anaesthesia, they may have a little change in the sound of their bark, cause a little cough and may have a few short term issues; however, I don’t know what is exactly going on there but it would be a good idea to at least get a visual on the larynx to see if there are any changes to its function which may be enough to do with a laryngoscope. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 23, 2018

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Kirby Pugett

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Pug

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

We took our dog to the vet hospital because he was having vomiting/diarrhea episodes every few days. They did blood work and it came back normal. So they did and X-ray and it appears there is some grainy mineral/material in his piloris. They put him on fluid and high fiber diet to see if her could pass it. The repeat X-ray showed the blockage had moved but it had moved in the wrong direction. The doctor says we can do either exploratory surgery or an endoscopy. Which option would be the best for us?

May 19, 2018

Kirby Pugett's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Without seeing the x-rays or knowing more about Kirby's situation, I have a hard time commenting on the best course of action for him. I can say, however, that exploratory surgery offers a much better opportunity to visualize everything and remove any problems in the stomach or intestine, while endoscopy is a much less invasive procedure but is limited in how much can be visualized and seen. It would be best to talk with your veterinarian to see which option they feel would be best for him.

May 19, 2018

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