Can Dogs Get Acid Reflux?

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Although humans don’t need walking on leashes, we make our own meals, and we’re allowed on the furniture, are we still susceptible to a lot of the same illnesses and ailments that our canine friends are?

One such ailment that many of us suffer from is acid reflux. This happens when acid from your stomach rises up into your esophagus, and it can be extremely painful. Fortunately, it can usually be dealt with relatively straightforward measures. However, you have to be careful when responding to acid reflux, as debilitating chest pain can often be a symptom of something much more sinister. But, can your dog also suffer from this painful condition?

Can Dogs Get Acid Reflux?

YES!

Dogs are susceptible to developing acid reflux. Although authors Christopher Martin and John Dent in 1986 raised the issue that dogs’ stomachs are much stronger than ours, so presumably it would take more to shift their stomach acid in an unusual manner, dogs are certainly capable of developing acid reflux, and many do.

Does My Dog Have Acid Reflux?

The first step to dealing with your dog’s acid reflux is establishing whether they definitely have it. Symptoms to look out for are burping and gurgling sounds after eating. Persistent bad breath is also a symptom to keep a nose out for. If your dog whines or demonstrates discomfort when eating, this too could be a sign. Weak vomiting and excessive salivation are also indicators your dog may be suffering from acid reflux.

But what causes an acid reflux? Excessive production of stomach acid is the problem, but a number of things cause that to happen. A hiatal hernia, obesity, and high blood calcium can all cause acid reflux. The other common cause that many owners do completely innocently, is feeding their dog inappropriate foods, such as spicy curries.

Take your dog to the vet and they will be able to diagnose the problem. First, they will listen to your dog’s chest and breathing, then probably an endoscopy will be done to allow the vet a closer look of the esophagus.

 

If you would like more detailed information and guidance on acid reflux, then head to Acid Reflux in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Acid Reflux?

Treating acid refluxes can be approached in a couple of ways, depending on the underlying cause. Despite the severe discomfort acid refluxes can cause, simple diet changes are often the most effective way to treat the condition. This usually entails breaking down meals into smaller, more frequent portions. Plus, feeding your dog easily digestible meals like plain chicken, raw meats, rice and simple veg may well settle the stomach. Adding water to the kibble may also help, as it has been suggested dry kibble can induce acid reflux. Recovery from effective diet changes can take place pretty rapidly. In just a few days or a couple of weeks, any acid reflux problems could be completely relieved.

If dietary changes don’t cut the mustard, or more serious intervention is required, surgery may be the appropriate treatment option. However, this will only happen in rare cases, with complicated hernias or ulcers. If surgery is needed, recovery time could well be weeks, or even months.

If you would like to hear first-hand accounts from owners about their dog’s acid reflux, or you would like detailed, answers from an experienced vet, then check out Acid Reflux in Dogs.

How is Acid Reflux in Dogs Similar to Acid Reflux in Humans?

Because acid reflux affects the stomach and throat, it manifests itself in a very similar way in both humans dogs. Some of those close similarities are:

  • Both dogs and humans may experience visible pain and discomfort after eating.

  • In both, it could be the symptom of a more serious underlying heart problem.

  • In both, pain and discomfort could be felt when they first wake up in the mornings.

  • In both, weak vomiting could be an indicator of acid reflux.

  • Excessive amounts of salvation can also be symptoms in both human and canine patients.

How Is Acid Reflux in Dogs Different from Acid Reflux in Humans?

Whilst we have seen there are clear similarities in the way acid reflux manifests itself in the human and canine body, there are also some obvious differences in the symptoms and causes. Some of these are:

  • Dogs can suffer from acid reflux after eating less risky foods, e.g. dogs can develop it from eating spicy human foods.

  • Humans often develop acid reflux after sustained periods of drinking too much alcohol. This is not a common cause of the problem in dogs, you would hope!

  • Acid reflux is more difficult to diagnose in dogs. An invasive procedure like an endoscopy may be required, whereas diagnosis in humans is often minimally invasive.

Case Study

An important journal released in 1992 massively helped our understanding of how acid reflux develops and why. It was called ‘Diaphragmatic contribution to gastroesophageal competence and reflux in dogs.’ Using four dogs, it went a long way in helping us understand the prerequisites for acid reflux occurring in dogs, as well as highlighting that the crural diaphragm is a serious element at play in the maintenance of gastroesophageal competence. This has furthered our understanding of the problem and helped to develop faster and more effective treatment methods.