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How to Prevent Dog Regurgitation


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Nothing beats a tremendously big, tasty meal that leaves you feeling paralyzed for the next few hours. While dogs may also get this feeling, a number of dogs also regurgitate their food soon after eating it. This is when the food moves back up the esophageal tract and into the mouth. While not usually a serious condition, it could be a sign of a severe underlying problem, such as a tumor, so getting swift and effective treatment is essential.

But what symptoms should you keep an eye out for if you’re concerned your dog is suffering from recurrent regurgitation? Is your dog consistently vomiting or have they lost a lot of weight? Are they having difficulty swallowing or breathing? Do they have any fever-like symptoms? All of these could be indicators of regurgitation. Knowing how to prevent regurgitation in your dog could save them considerable pain and discomfort.

Breed Predispositions

Many breeds of dog suffer from persistent regurgitation as a result of their genes. Some dogs are born with constricted throats or with other throat problems that make processing and keeping food down extremely challenging. The Wire Fox Terrier, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Schnauzer, and Newfoundland Dog are commonly known to suffer from regurgitation issues.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps you as an owner can take to minimize the risk. The first thing to do is look at their diet. Start feeding your dog smaller meals more frequently. This will put less pressure on the throat, mouth, and stomach and increase the chances of your dog retaining their breakfast. While this is somewhat helpful in the short-term, it will not resolve the underlying condition and may not be effective in severe cases.

Secondly, try to keep your dog upright when they eat their food. Owners often use a ‘Bailey chair’ to help with this task. This will keep your pooch upright during their meal and for 10-30 minutes after, which will reduce the risk of regurgitation. This measure is also effective in the short term for less serious cases.

Acquired Megaesophagus

While some dogs are born with throat problems that lead to regurgitation, other dogs develop problems as they grow up. The muscular tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach becomes enlarged and can then malfunction. This means that not all the food gets transported to the stomach, so it builds up and then the dog regurgitates the build up.

There are more measures you can take to prevent this from occurring in the first place, though. One slightly unorthodox approach that many owners report success with is acupuncture. It can be used to gently stimulate esophageal motility, improving the efficacy of the muscles, which should help your dog retain their food. This is a mid-term preventative solution, that while effective for some dogs, isn’t beneficial in all cases. 

Another measure many owners take, which is extremely straightforward, is to get your dog to sit for 10 minutes after eating. Keeping your dog in a vertical position after eating will greatly increase the chances of that food staying down. While not 100% effective, or a long-term solution, it’s quick, easy and totally free.

Medical Problems

Another cause of regurgitation is medical problems. Regurgitation is often a byproduct of a more serious underlying condition, such as a hernia or tumor. A growth in the throat, stomach, or mouth can make retaining food and water difficult and when pressure is put on the growth, dogs will instinctively want to regurgitate their food.

Luckily, there are measures you can take to prevent regurgitation. The first thing to do is to have any problems diagnosed and treated promptly. If you have the hernia or tumor removed surgically and quickly, then regurgitation will not be an issue. In dogs where an underlying medical problem is the cause, then swift diagnosis and treatment is an effective, long-term preventative measure.

Another measure to take is to utilize the antibiotics and medications available on today’s market. Depending on your dog’s condition, gastrointestinal motility enhancing drugs can be given to your dog, which will help them keep food down and process it effectively. Talk with your vet about what medications are appropriate for your dog’s case.

Importance of Prevention

The effects of preventing regurgitation are numerous. It will save your dog serious pain and discomfort and will save you considerable time, money, and stress. But perhaps most notable of all: it will save your floors from being decorated by your dog’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Key Take-Home Points

Regurgitation in dogs is a common problem that is not usually too serious, although it could be a sign of a more significant underlying condition, like a hernia. Some breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and Newfoundlands are predisposed to esophagus issues, but regurgitation can also come about from a range of other medical issues. Fortunately, you can take simple steps to help prevent regurgitation problems, such as keeping your dog in a vertical position while, or after, eating. You can use acupuncture and a range of motility enhancing medication as appropriate for your dog’s condition. Even just giving your dogs smaller, more frequent meals could have the desired effect.

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