Dogs are our loyal companions and are often treated as members of the family. As a pet owner, you become responsible for the wellbeing of your furry friend. This includes caring for them when they experience health problems.
One of the most common health issues pet owners encounter with their dogs is acid reflux. This condition can cause discomfort and pain to your furry friend. So, do dogs suffer from acid reflux? Let’s find out.
The Basics: What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a condition where stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. This can cause irritation and inflammation to the esophagus, leading to discomfort and pain. In humans, the symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation. However, dogs cannot communicate their discomfort to us, so how do we know if they have acid reflux?
Symptoms of Acid Reflux in Dogs
The symptoms of acid reflux in dogs can vary depending on the severity and the individual pet. However, some common symptoms include:
- Unproductive swallowing, also known as ‘dry heaving’
- Difficulty swallowing food
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Excessive drooling
If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is important to take them to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
Causes of Acid Reflux in Dogs
Acid reflux in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of the most common causes include:
- Dietary habits: Dogs who eat too fast, too much, or are fed a high-fat diet are at a higher risk of developing acid reflux.
- Anatomical issues: Some dogs may be born with a hiatal hernia, which can increase the risk of acid reflux.
- Medications: Certain medications can cause acid reflux in dogs, including prednisone and antihistamines.
- Age: Older dogs are more prone to developing health concerns, including acid reflux.
If you suspect that your dog’s acid reflux is caused by their diet, it is important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate dietary changes. Additionally, if your dog is taking medications that are causing their acid reflux, speak with your veterinarian to see if alternative medications may be appropriate.
Risk Factors for Acid Reflux in Dogs
While any dog can develop acid reflux, there are certain risk factors that can make them more susceptible. These include:
- Brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs)
- Dogs who have had anesthesia or any other medical procedure involving intubation
- Dogs with a history of gastrointestinal issues or disorders
If your dog falls into one of these categories, it may be a good idea to monitor them for symptoms of acid reflux.
Treatment for Acid Reflux in Dogs
The treatment for acid reflux in dogs usually involves both lifestyle changes and medication. Some lifestyle changes that may help alleviate symptoms include:
- Feeding smaller and more frequent meals
- Keeping your dog upright for at least 30 minutes after eating
- Using an elevated feeding dish to promote proper digestion
- Switching to a low-fat diet if dietary habits are a contributing factor
Your veterinarian may also prescribe medication to help alleviate symptoms of acid reflux. These may include:
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
- H2 blockers
The type of medication prescribed will depend on the severity of your dog’s symptoms and their overall health. Additionally, it is important to follow all medication instructions carefully and to keep all follow-up appointments with your veterinarian.
Preventing Acid Reflux in Dogs
While it may not be possible to completely prevent acid reflux in dogs, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. These include:
- Feeding smaller and more frequent meals
- Switching to a low-fat diet if appropriate
- Avoiding table scraps and human food
- Encouraging slow and deliberate eating habits
- Using an elevated feeding dish
Additionally, it is important to maintain your dog’s overall health. This includes regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and routine veterinary care.
Common Questions About Acid Reflux in Dogs
Can untreated acid reflux be fatal in dogs?
While untreated acid reflux can lead to complications, it is not typically fatal in dogs. However, it can cause discomfort and pain for your pet, so it is important to seek treatment if you suspect your dog has acid reflux.
Can acid reflux in dogs make them vomit?
Yes, acid reflux in dogs can cause vomiting, as well as other symptoms such as regurgitation and unproductive swallowing.
What foods should dogs with acid reflux avoid?
Dogs with acid reflux may benefit from avoiding high-fat foods, table scraps, and human food in general. Additionally, it may be helpful to switch to a low-fat diet if dietary habits are contributing to your dog’s acid reflux.
Can acid reflux in dogs be cured?
While acid reflux in dogs cannot be completely cured, with proper treatment and management, symptoms can be minimized and controlled.
Do certain breeds of dogs have a higher risk of developing acid reflux?
Yes, brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs) are at a higher risk of developing acid reflux. Additionally, any dog that has experienced intubation or anesthesia may be more susceptible.
Can acid reflux in dogs be prevented?
While it may not be possible to completely prevent acid reflux in dogs, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. These include feeding smaller and more frequent meals, encouraging slow eating habits, and avoiding high-fat foods and table scraps.
Acid reflux in dogs can cause discomfort and pain for your furry friend, but with proper treatment and management, symptoms can be minimized and controlled. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from acid reflux, it is important to speak with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.
By taking steps to prevent acid reflux and maintaining your dog’s overall health, you can help to minimize their risk of developing this uncomfortable condition.
American Kennel Club. (2021, March 08). Acid Reflux in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment. American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/acid-reflux-in-dogs-causes-symptoms-and-treatment/
Merck Veterinary Manual. (n.d.). Gastroesophageal Reflux in Dogs. Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/gastroesophageal-reflux-in-dogs
Schmidt, K. (2017, July 03). Acid reflux in dogs. VCA Hospitals. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/acid-reflux-in-dogs
- Do dogs with acid reflux lose weight?
- How is acid reflux diagnosed in dogs?
- Can certain medications cause acid reflux in dogs?
- Is acid reflux in dogs painful?
- What breeds of dogs are more prone to developing acid reflux?