Acid reflux which is also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) occurs when the intestinal or gastric acids and digestive enzymes in the intestines flow backward into the food pipe or esophagus.
This situation is uncontrollable because it occurs when the muscles that seal the lower part of the esophagus become relaxed. These acids corrode the mucus lining in the esophagus causing irritation and ulceration and pain.
Acid reflux is more common in younger dogs as compared to older dogs. We shall further discuss the causes, symptoms, remedies, and treatment of acid reflux in dogs.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux in Dogs
Acid reflux in dog mostly occurs when the dog lies down after eating. It gets really uncomfortable hence rendering the dog restless. Below are insights on the symptoms to watch out for.
Please take your dog to a veterinarian whenever you observe any of these symptoms. Appropriate diagnosis will indicate the cause of the acid reflux and treatment.
- Constants foul smell from the mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Swallow repeatedly
- Eating grass or green leaves
- Licking dust off surfaces or the ground
- Weight loss
- Excess saliva flowing out of the mouth
- Gas in the tummy indicated by constant burping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty in breathing
Causes of Acid Reflux in dogs
Acid reflux in dogs occurs when the gastric acids in the stomach and intestines flow back into the esophagus. This is only possible if the muscles that close the pathway to the esophagus relaxes and opens up to allow the fluids to flowing reverse.
Any factor that will lead to the relaxation of these muscles will cause acid reflux. Below are the common causes of acid reflux in dogs.
1. Inappropriate administration of Anaesthesia
During treatment of your dog for any other complications that involves a painful process, a sedative is administered first before the operation.
A professional vet should know how to position a dog and the precautions to take while giving it anesthesia. Poor administration of anesthesia will relax the muscles that seal the esophagus hence causing acid reflux.
2. Hiatus Hernia
The chest cavity and abdomen are separated by a muscular wall called the diaphragm. There is an opening in the diaphragm called hiatus where the food pipe passes through into the stomach.
Hiatus Hernia occurs when the stomach bulges upward into the chest via the hiatus. It then causes acid reflux. This condition is most common in puppies since their organs are not yet fully developed
3. Severe Vomiting
Sever e vomiting for a prolonged period of time will weaken muscles that lead to the esophagus.
When the vomiting is being thrown up and out of the mouth some of the acids in the stomach are likely to move up with the vomit and result in acid reflux.
When your dog eats more than its stomach can accommodate, the stomach is forced to produce more digestive juices. The excess juices are likely to flow backward into the esophagus when the sphincter muscles relax.
You should ensure that you serve dog a standard portion of food regularly instead of letting the dog starve the whole day then providing a large portion of food at once.
You should feed your dog twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Consult with a vet the portion of food that is enough for your dog.
Late stages of pregnancy are associated with increased in the levels of estrogen. Increased estrogenic makes the muscles in the body relax.
When the sphincter muslc4e relaxes acid reflux occurs. After the pregnancy ends the problem will resolve on its own.
Excess body fats in dog’s cause’s acid reflux. Do not overfeed your dog. You should feed your dog with food that is rich in a low amount of fats.
7. Human Activities
Some human activities like smoking cigarette in the presence of your dog are harmful to its health. The dog will be a passive smoker by inhaling the fumes and this causes acid reflux.
Do not be tempted to give your dog alcohol whenever you are indulging in a bottle. The best practice as a smoker is to smoke in an open space away from your dog. You can do it on the balcony of a story building or if you have an open roof top.
Does Your Dog get Acid Reflux at Night?
Acid reflux in dogs can make them very uncomfortable and restless in the night. They will bark and howl the whole night. This interferes with both your sleep and the dog’s sleep.
If the dogs sleep inside you may keep checking through your window for an intruder because you might think the doing is fighting one. If it is a house pet and sleeps inside the house then you will have no peace at night unless your bedroom is soundproof.
It is not easy to ignore these distress calls from your dog especially if you love it so much. Sometimes eating foreign objects like grass can help the dog throw up and feel much better.
Unfortunately, this solution is only temporary. It lasts for a few hours and then the barking and howling resumes .oesophagus using an s
Acid reflux gets worse at night because the dog is likely to take a lying position in order to rest for the day. The digestive acids from the stomach and intestines are likely to flow backward into the esophagus and eat it up.
This strips off the mucus lining on the food pipe and causes ulceration on the oesophagus. This is what is called heartburn. In severe cases, the vet may observe bleeding in the esophagus using an s special camera.
When your dog keeps howling at night, then it’s high time you took it to a dog clinic for treatment. If you have ever experienced heartburn then you should be in a position to understand the agony your dog is going through.
It is easier to treat a situation that you can relate to with the emergency it deserves. Love your dog enough to come through for it when it needs you the most.
Acid Reflux in Dogs Age
Young dogs (puppies) are likely to suffer from acid reflux because their sphincter muscles are not yet strong enough to block the reversing of digestive acids.
This situation gets better as they grow older. However old dogs also get subjected to the high probability of acid reflux because their muscles begin to weaken. It is like a cycle.
As a dog gets older the digestion process is slowed down. As a result of this, food stays in the dog’s digestive tract for longer. The more food stays the more digestive acids are produced.
These acids can find their way back into the esophagus via the already weakened sphincter muscles located on the lower opening of the food pipe.
Under the causes of acid reflux in a dog, we had discussed obesity and excess weight causing acid reflux. Older dogs are likely to have excess weight and fats in their body that have been acquired over the years.
This excess body weight stresses the stomach and compels stomach acids to be pushed out of the stomach back into the esophagus.
You should be taking your dogs to the vet for regular check-up whether they are sick or not. This way the vet can foresee am acid reflux problem and advice you on the kind of diet you should put your dog on. Wise men say prevention is better than cure and a stitch in time saves nine.
Acid Reflux in Dogs Diet control Remedy.
One of the best remedies for acid reflux is diet control. You have to regulate the amount of food your dog is consuming. For a start, the dog has to be provided with only water and no food diet for about 48 hours before the dieting is rolled out.
Dietary fat and protein should be limited, as fat decreases the strength of the muscle between the stomach and esophagus, while protein stimulates the secretion of gastric acid.”
Low- fat and low protein food include boiled rice, boiled potatoes, fillet, chicken, turkey or any another poultry meat. Please endure that your dog sits upright while eating instead of bending over the plate of food.
This is to help the food flow downwards and reduce the chances of it coming back into the mouth. The dog should be served food on a raised surface.
When you roll out the dieting program, start by serving these low-fat and low –protein foods in small amounts at definite frequent intervals. The more portions you feed to your dog at ago the more the amount of gastric juice that will be produced yet this is the situation that you are trying to avoid.
Apart from diet, there is an herbal remedy for acid reflux in dogs called Slippery elm bark. As the name suggests, this plant is slippery and has a mucus-like texture.
This will help to inline the esophagus and prevent the gastric acids from corroding the walls of the food pipe hence minimize the effects of acid reflux on the esophagus.
It also lines the stomach and prevents corrosion of the excess acid on the walls of the stomach. The bark of the slippery elm tree forms a jelly substance when mixed with water. You need to prepare it and feed it to your dog. Below are instructions on how to make use of this herb.
What you require
- The bark of slippery elm tree
- Pestle and mortar
- A bowl
- Peel the backs of Slippery elm tree
- Dry them in the sun
- Pound the slippery elm bark into powder using a pestle and a mortar
- Boil half a liter of water
- Add a full tablespoon of the dried slippery elm bark into the hot boiled water and cover with a tight seal.
- Let is simmer for 15 minutes
- Let it cool and turn jelly
- Give your dog 2 to 4 spoons depending on its weight.
- Administer this dosage at least 4 times a day
- Do not give your dog slippery elm jelly together with other medications because it will affect the strength of the medicine.
- If your dog is on, medication then gives it the slippery elm jelly 2 hours prior to medication time.
Treatment of Acid Reflux in Dogs
Treatment of acid reflux involves treatment or control of the causative agent. Once the causes are eliminated the acid reflux problem will be resolved. Some of the causes of acid reflux in dogs are not fatal therefore can be treated at home.
A professional vet will conduct a diagnosis on the dog in order to identify the cause of the acid reflux. As mentioned earlier, simple causes of acid reflux can be solved at home while complex ones require medical attention.
The vet will use an instrument known as an esophagoscopy to view the lining of the food tract in order to see how much damage has been done. This instrument has a camera that is able to capture any lesions, bleeding or irritation on the food pipe.
Special medication like gastrointestinal pro-kinetic agents is used to strengthen the muscles that block the passage between the food pipe and the stomach.
This will help in preventing acid reflux in dogs. Medicine that is rich in sucralfate e.g. Cafarate and Antespsin are capable of preventing acid reflux by lining the stomach walls and the food tract.
Pain and Restlessness due to acid reflux x in dogs are sorted out using pain relievers like Pepcid acid also known as famotidine.
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