Acid reflux disease in dogs is much the same as it is in humans—a reverse flow of gastric or intestinal fluids from the stomach back into the esophagus. The gastrointestinal juices irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing inflammation and pain. Learn more about the symptoms and treatment for acid reflux from a Richmond Hill veterinarian.
Young dogs may develop acid reflux because their gastro-esophageal sphincters—the opening at the base of the esophagus—are still developing as they grow. Another common cause is improper administration of anesthesia, involving the positioning of the dog and the recovery. If your dog underwent anesthesia recently and is now showing symptoms of acid reflux, the procedure may be to blame.
Mild acid reflux will just show a minor inflammation to the esophagus, while severe cases can result in deep tissue damage. Your dog may evidence his pain physically by whining or howling, or show other symptoms like vomiting, a loss of appetite, drooling, and weight loss due to reluctance to eat.
Take your dog to your vet’s office if you notice the above symptoms. Your veterinarian will diagnose the disorder by viewing your dog’s esophagus with a specialized camera tool. Sometimes, medications will be prescribed that improve the movement of stomach contents and regulate gastrointestinal juices, as well as strengthening the sphincter muscle that is allowing stomach acids through.
Most cases of acid reflux require a change in diet. Food may be withheld for a day or two, and then a low-fat, low-protein diet will ensue. Fat decreases the strength of the sphincter muscle between the stomach and esophagus, and protein stimulates the production of certain stomach acids, so these should both be limited to combat acid reflux. Many times, this dietary change will greatly reduce or eliminate the symptoms of acid reflux disease. Ask your Richmond Hill veterinarian what food to switch your dog to, and how to do so safely.