Stomach (gastroduodenal) ulcers can develop in your dog’s stomach or the first section of his small intestines. They manifest in dogs when the mucosal lining of the stomach or intestinal lumen is exposed.
Petwave.com explains, “Stomach ulcers, also called gastric ulcers, are disruptions or open defects in the lining of the stomach (gastric mucosa), caused by the sloughing of inflammatory, dead or dying (necrotic) tissue. Ulcers often penetrate deeply into sensitive layers of the stomach wall and cause painful, debilitating symptoms.”
According to petplace.com, “There is no predilection for a particular age group or breed, and signs can be extremely variable from patient to patient. Some patients may have no clinical signs, while others may be in immediate need of intensive support and hospitalization, including blood transfusions.”
What Can Cause a Stomach Ulcer?
According to PetMD.com, “Accidental poisoning is one of the leading causes of gastroduodenal ulcer disease. This can be in the form of plant intoxication (e.g., mushrooms, castor beans, sago palm), pesticide or rodenticide toxicity, chemical poisoning (e.g., ethylene glycol, phenol), or heavy metal poisoning (e.g., zinc, iron, arsenic).”
Here are some of the other causes of a stomach ulcer listed by PetMD.com and petplace.com:
- Gastrointestinal obstructions (i.e., tumors)
- Hyperacidity of the stomach
- Metabolic disease
- Lead poisoning
- Severe trauma (e.g., shock, head injury, burns, etc.)
- Gastrointestinal parasites
- Infectious diseases (bacterial, fungal or viral)
- Kidney or liver failure
- Foreign objects
- Adverse drug reaction
- Pythiosis (a condition cause by water mold)
- Helicobacter infection
- Sustained strenuous exercise
What are the Symptoms of a Stomach Ulcer?
Be aware that there are several symptoms that can develop as a result of stomach ulcers. Some may be undetectable until your dog’s condition gets worse.
Here are some of the more common symptoms listed by petwave.com and PetMD.com:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Blood in vomiting (hematemesis)
- Black tarry stool due to presence of digested blood (melena)
- Abdominal pain (your dog may stand in a praying position)
How is a Stomach Ulcer Diagnosed?
You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms.
Petwave.com explains, “Any dog that is vomiting frequently, and whose vomit contains material that looks like coffee grounds, should be suspected of having gastric ulcers. Superficial ulcers appear as patches of inflamed and eroded tissue, covered by whitish or yellowish pus. Deeper ulcers appear as crater-like lesions that in severe cases can actually penetrate full-thickness through the stomach wall.”
Your veterinarian may also perform a gastroscopy (an endoscopic examination) to determine if there is a gastric ulcer present.
How is a Stomach Ulcer Treated?
Because there are so many other conditions that can lead to your dog developing stomach ulcers, prevention lies in what caused the issue in the first place.
According to PetMD.com, “The ultimate goal is to treat the underlying cause while easing the dog’s symptoms. However, gastroduodenal ulcers are sometimes associated [with] hemorrhaging, shock, or severe abdominal infection. In these cases, intensive care is required until the dog becomes stable. Fluids are given to maintain body fluid level and in some patients blood transfusion may be required to overcome deficit caused by extensive bleeding.”
In severe cases where your dog does not stop bleeding, the vet may administer ice water into your dog’s stomach for 20 to 30 minutes to help stop the internal bleeding. Even after all this, surgery may still be required for your dog.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Developing a Stomach Ulcer?
Because there are so many underlying issues that can cause a stomach ulcer, treatment varies from altering your dog’s diet to being more aware of the types of objects he ingests.
It is recommended that you never give your dog any over-the-counter pain medication without first consulting your vet.
According to petplace.com, “Administer all medication and dietary recommendations as directed by your veterinarian. If your dog becomes weak or pale, collapses, or vomits blood, seek veterinary attention at once. Avoid gastric (stomach) irritants and stressful situations. If an underlying disorder has been diagnosed, treat your dog as directed, so as to prevent the onset of secondary ulcers.”
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.
Do you have a question about gastroduodenal ulcers? Submit it to i Love Dogs’ Ask a Vet here.
Next week: HOW TO Treat Your Dog for Ingestion of Rat Poison