Treating a Dog Gastric Ulcer
"Gastroduodenal ulcer disease or a dog
gastric ulcer occurs when an
ulcer is an area of the stomach where the mucous membrane is damaged
causing inflammation. Ulcers also form at the duodenum which is the
where the small intestine meets the stomach. There are no sex, age, or
breed predilections toward forming an ulcer.
The ulcers form when factors exist which
overwhelm the body’s normal ability to repair the stomach’s mucosal
barrier. Ulcers in dogs are usually caused by medications such as
ibuprofen. Unlike humans where bacteria are frequently the cause, in
dogs it is usually related to medications. Ulcers can also form as a
complication of a disease.
If the ulcer didn't form as the result of a
side effect of a medication your dog is taking, the
veterinarian will check for liver disease, kidney problems and stress
on your dog's body from illness or surgery. Skin mas cell tumors
can also cause ulcers related to the histamine produced by tumors.
Ulcers are seen in 80% of dogs that has skin mast cell
tumors. An ulcer can also form when the body is in
shock, which can be caused
by a severe bacterial infection, heart problem or blood pressure
When ulcers form the dog can have
gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems (bleeding an lead to
anemia, rapid heart beat, heart murmurs and low blood pressure).
Males have a higher incidence of a disorder called gastric carcinoma
(stomach cancer). Treatment is specific to the determined cause."
Dog Gastric Ulcer
While there are different ways a dog stomach ulcer can form, the
underlying pathology is basically the same. The dog ingests something
that stimulates the production of gastric acid which inhibits the
gastric mucosal barrier. The process causes physical damage to the
lining of the stomach and alters the natural repair process. A
normal disruption heals in 3 to 7 days. When something disrupts
adequate blood flow to the area or if other of the factors listed below
are introduced, the body is unable to repair itself.
Dog Gastric Ulceration
Antrum (see arrow) location
of Dog Gastric Ulcer
In addition to medications listed below, such as NSAIDs and
following disease can lead to gastroduodenal dog gastric ulcer disease.
- stroidal anti inflammatory drugs
Dog Gastric Ulcer Surgery
The primary and most common symptom of an ulcer is vomiting. You
might see old or
brownish colored blood mixed in. Other symptoms include weight loss and
anemia. Note that not all dogs that vomit has an ulcer.
If the ulcers bleed rapidly, a dog can go into shock and pass tarry,
black stools. Ulcers can rupture into the abdomen that results in a
condition called peritonitis.
Other symptoms include:
- Weight loss, appearing underweight
- Change in position (praying position)
- Collapse (from severe anemia)
A veterinarian will start with a detailed history to determine if
there was any NSAID use, poison consumption or any deiseases that could
trigger ulcer formation. In some dogs, symptoms such as signs of
anemia (pale gums), rapid heart beat and weight loss will be
Pain when touched is another sign that will be noted.
Ulcers are diagnosed with a procedure called a gastroscopy. The
veterinarian will also look for pale mucous membranes as a sign of
anemia. Other signs are rapid heartbeat and distension of the abdomen.
X-Rays are used to identify any masses in the abdomen. Ultrasounds can
identify a mass or thickening of the stomach wall.
Other tests include urinalysis and blood tests to determine if loss of
blood causes anemia. Laboratory tests will not specificaly
confirm the presence of dog stomach ulcers.
The veterinarian will eliminate other possible causes such as:
- Diseases of the esophagus
- Thrombocytopenia: abnormal drop in the number of blood cells
involve din forming blood clots
- Hemoptysis: coughing up of blood from the lungs
- Regurgitation/vomiting of swallowed blood from other
gastrointestinal diseases related to the urogenital tract or anal sac
- Taking pepto-bismol can explain stools that are tarry or black
Ulcers are treated with drugs that are often used in humans. This
includes histamine blockers such as Tagamet, Pepcid, Carafate, Cytotec,
Prilosec and Zantac. Antacids such as Mylanta, Maalox and Amphogel are
also used. Veterinarians often prescribe a histamine blocker and an
Out patient care is warranted if the vomiting is not sever and any
bleeding is minimal.
Treatment lasts for 3 to 4 weeks plus a follow-up gastroscopy to ensure
that the problem has been resolved.
Ulcers that are perforated require emergency surgery. Anemia may
require a blood transfusion. If bleeding is severe, bleeding can be
stopped using a procedure called ice water lavage. Surgery is also
indicated in cases where after 7 to 10 days of treatment, there is no
After recovery a diet that is highly digestible is recommended. This
means low to moderate levels of fat since fat can keep the gastric
system from emptying. Fiber levels should be low.
The prognosis for dogs that had ulcers due to NSAID use is good to
Brochures for Additional Information
Authors: J. D. Parrah, B. A. Moulvi, Mohsin
Ali Gazi, D. M. Makhdoomi, H. Athar, Shahid Dar and A. Q. Mir
For More Information:
Stomach Disorders in Dogs