Can Dogs Get Acid Reflux?

The esophagus and gastrointestinal tract are affected when acid reflux occurs. In dogs, signs of the occurrence will include vomiting of bile and reduced appetite. Obesity and anesthetic required for surgery can be causes.

Can Dogs Get Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a common ailment affecting humans and canines, too. More commonly called gastroesophageal reflux when speaking of dogs, this illness results when intestinal contents flow back up into the esophagus. Vomiting may occur when the acidic liquid, which is typically bile, moves from the stomach through the connecting tube to the throat. Usually, the sphincter in the tube relaxes and allows the stomach contents to move up.

Causes of acid reflux include:

  • Surgical anesthetic can cause the esophagus to relax, allowing the opening in the throat tube to open
  • Younger dogs may experience reflux because the organ is not yet properly developed
  • If a dog has a chronic vomiting condition, acid reflux may result
  • A hiatial hernia may be the culprit causing the condition
  • Obesity may cause food to move back up the intestine
  • High blood calcium can contribute to acid reflux
  • A weakened or injured esophagus may bring on reflux
  • Certain medications can impact the function of the intestine and esophagus
  • An over-production of acid may be the cause

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. Weight loss can be a clue, as can a lack of interest in food. 

Take your dog to the vet and they will be able to diagnose the problem. Be prepared to give the veterinarian a synopsis of symptoms and when the suspected acid reflux first started to occur. The vet will listen to your dog’s chest and breathing and may want to do a blood test. If your dog is obese, the vet will take that into account. An endoscopy may be suggested so the vet can get an internal view. 

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 reflux can be approached in a couple of ways, depending on the underlying cause. Despite the severe discomfort acid reflux 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, rice and simple vegetables may well settle the stomach. Adding water to the kibble can 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. Medication may be prescribed with the intention of moving the food along its path.

If serious intervention is required, surgery may be the appropriate treatment option. However, this will only happen in rare cases, with complicated hernias or ulcers. In some cases, surgery can be performed endoscopically, allowing for a less invasive procedure and quick recovery time.

Working with your vet, this condition is typically treatable at home, with positive results.

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

  • 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 people and dogs, pain and discomfort could be felt in the morning
  • In both, weak vomiting could be an indicator of acid reflux
  • Excessive amounts of salvation can also be symptoms in human and canine patients

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

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. 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.

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