Our services Help and advice Gastroenteritis Vets have reported seeing a higher than usual occurrence of gastroenteritis in dogs but have found that the majority of cases have so far responded well to treatment. This is why it is important for all dog owners to be aware of the details of gastroenteritis, including preventative techniques but also treatment options if the unfortunate was to happen. What is gastroenteritis? Gastroenteritis is a condition that refers to an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract – this concerns the stomach and the intestines. It often causes abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, although more serious cases can display more serious symptoms such as blood in your dog’s faeces or vomit. It is highly likely that your dog will have a reduced appetite and will appear lethargic and tired if they become infected. What causes gastroenteritis? Gastroenteritis can be caused by a number of different things, including: - eating unusual, raw or spoiled foods - food allergies or sensitivities - infections, viruses and bacteria - toxins - foreign bodies (ingesting an unknown object that becomes trapped) - intestinal obstruction - gastrointestinal cancers - underlying health conditions Treatment Treatment of gastroenteritis will differ between cases dependent on the severity, and dependent on the causes. If you notice anything unusual regarding your pet’s behaviour, you should contact your vet immediately. They may then ask you to go into the veterinary practice so that they can examine the cause of the problem and assign treatment where necessary. If it is concluded that the cause of their problems is gastroenteritis, treatment could include simply withholding food for a period of time or feeding a bland diet to allow your pup’s stomach to return to normal, and prescribing medication to stop the vomiting and diarrhoea. In many cases, gastroenteritis in dogs often resolves within a matter of a few days. Nevertheless, you should monitor your dog closely as all cases are individual. Ensure you follow your vet’s advice and look after your dog in the way they have suggested. If you have any further concerns, you can always recontact your vet. It is important to take action as soon as possible as some forms of gastroenteritis can prove fatal if left untreated – haemorrhagic gastroenteritis for example. Preventative Techniques There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of gastroenteritis reaching your pets: - avoid public areas: Where possible, try to avoid areas that are frequented by other dogs. Gastroenteritis can be highly contagious and can quickly spread through the canine community, for example through saliva, vomit and faeces. You may want to bathe your dog’s paws after they have been outside just to be on the safe side – they may have walked in the virus and could then catch it whilst cleaning themselves. - discourage scavenging: A possible cause of gastroenteritis is eating foods which your pet is not used to, or may be allergic to. To prevent this, you should discourage your dogs from scavenging. This will significantly reduce the chances of them getting their paws – or mouth – onto something that they aren’t supposed to. This includes drinking from puddles and sniffing other faeces whilst out on walks. - food: Where possible, try to keep your dog’s diet consistent and avoid introducing new foods if you aren’t sure how their body will react. If you must introduce new foods into their diet, ensure you do this slowly, usually over a period of a couple of weeks. It is imperative to give their system time to adjust to the changes to ensure they don’t suffer from stomach upsets. - vaccinations: Gastroenteritis can be caused as a result of other infections, viruses or bacteria, so it is important that you keep up to date with all of their necessary vaccinations. You should also keep up to date with your dog’s worming treatments to prevent nasty parasites affecting them and potentially leading to gastroenteritis. If you have any further concerns, please contact your vet.