Summary: In this blog, we learn all about acid reflux in dogs. We’ll discover what acid reflux is, how to tell if your dog has acid reflux and if there are any foods or ways of managing acid reflux in canines…
Acid Reflux In Dogs
Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux) is a condition where the contents of the stomach, in both canines and humans, is moved in the wrong direction – so, towards and upward into the esophagus. This occurs when the sphincter, which leads from the esophagus to the stomach, opens and allows a reverse flow of bile and/or food to take place.
Acid reflux can be incredibly uncomfortable for a dog to experience, particularly with no intervention, and can cause long-term inflammation of the esophagus. Some cases may require surgical intervention by a qualified vet. However, prompt treatment can usually correct acid reflux in a dog.
Acid reflux can affect any dog, regardless of age, weight, breed, or size.
Symptoms Of Acid Reflux In Dogs
If you suspect your dog may be experiencing acid reflux, signs to look out for include:
- Vomiting bile or food (the latter shortly after eating)
- Decreased interest in food
- Licking of lips
- Discomfort when swallowing
- Grinding of the teeth
- Restlessness during the night
If your dog regurgitates their meals often, this can lead to nutritional deficiencies and low-calorie intake, resulting in weight loss. However, it’s also worth noting that not all dogs with acid reflux will vomit.
What is imperative is that if you suspect your dog has acid reflux, you see a veterinarian.
What Causes Dog Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux may be caused by either an anatomic defect (so an issue with the structure of your dog’s insides), it may be brought on by a chronic condition or it can be triggered whilst under anesthetic. The latter occurs because when a dog is under anesthetic, the gastroesophageal sphincter relaxes and this can cause the contents of their stomach to leak upward. If a dog is chronically vomiting due to an ongoing illness or medications, this may cause the body to allow acid reflux to take place.
If an anatomic defect is suspected, in the case of acid reflux, a hiatal hernia may be blamed. Hiatal hernias occur when the diaphragm has an opening in it, which allows part of the intestines, liver, or stomach into the chest cavity.
Some conditions are easier to solve than others, and your veterinarian should hopefully be able to make light of the cause in your dog’s condition and determine the appropriate fix. Your dog may require an X-ray if a hiatal hernia is suspected, or an endoscopy (a camera down their throat while under anesthetic) to check out the status of the esophagus.
If a hiatal hernia is discovered, surgery may be required.
What’s The Best Food For A Dog With Acid Reflux?
If your dog receives a positive diagnosis for acid reflux, it is likely that your vet will suggest they have their food restricted for up to 48 hours. Then, a low-fat and low-protein food should be introduced and fed in very small quantities and frequently over the course of the day on an ongoing basis. Proteins and fats are limited in the case of acid reflux, because protein stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, and fat decreases the muscular strength between the esophagus and stomach.
Your vet may suggest medications that support the movement of food from the stomach to the intestines (the correct route). In most cases though, proper diet management usually helps improve the situation for a pooch without the need for additional medicines.
Dog Acid Reflux
If acid reflux is left untreated, the esophagus can become really inflamed which can be incredibly painful for a dog to experience. This will also most likely bring on weight loss and a reluctance to eat. If managed well, a dog’s reflux can diminish significantly and their esophagus will eventually heal.
If there is no improvement in your dog’s reflux after a few weeks of your dog being on their new diet, get back in touch with your veterinarian for further support.
Author Kruzer, Adrienne “Acid Reflux In Dogs” The Spruce Pets, Mar 18. 2022 https://www.thesprucepets.com/acid-reflux-in-dogs-4692195
“Acid Reflux In Dogs” Pet Web MD https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_multi_gastroesophageal_reflux