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Can Your Dog Have Acid Reflux?

July 1, 2014

Perhaps you or someone you know has acid reflux disease; you know, then, how uncomfortable it can be. Did you know that dogs can suffer from acid reflux too? Learn more below from your Larimer County veterinarian.

What Causes Acid Reflux in Dogs?

Acid reflux in dogs is essentially the same as it is in humans—it occurs when gastric or intestinal fluids flow back up from the stomach in to the esophagus, causing irritation, inflammation, and damage to the esophageal lining. The fluids are allowed up by the sphincter, a muscle opening at the base of the esophagus. In healthy dogs, this muscle won’t allow stomach fluids back up. In dogs with acid reflux, it relaxes and lets the fluid pass through. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including improper anesthesia, chronic vomiting, or other health concerns.

What are the Symptoms?

In mild cases of acid reflux, there will be minor esophageal irritation, which may only result in the occasional cough or other signs of discomfort in your dog. Severe reflux, though, can cause damage to the deeper layers of the throat lining, resulting in pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, and loss of weight due to a lack of eating.  Call your vet’s office immediately  if you witness these symptoms in your canine companion.

How is it Treated?

Your vet will confirm a diagnosis of acid reflux by examining the esophagus internally, or by finding a direct cause of the reflux, like a throat disease or hernia. Medications can be prescribed that improve the flow of stomach fluids and strengthen the sphincter muscle. Diet changes may accompany these medications. Some dogs respond well to small-portion, low-fat diets.

Can I Prevent Acid Reflux?

While all cases of canine acid reflux may not be preventable, you can do your part by keeping your dog on a healthy diet with low fat content. Excessive table scraps and fatty treats only contribute to the problem, so keep these to a minimum.

Ask your Larimer County veterinarian for more advice on dealing with a dog with acid reflux, and contact the clinic today if you suspect this painful disorder is affecting your dog.

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