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Does Your Dog Have Gastroenteritis or Something Else?

Is your dog vomiting or do they have diarrhoea? Your dog may vomit or have loose stool occasionally, but if it’s severe and ongoing they may very well have gastroenteritis.

Gastro was in our top 5 types of claims for pet insurance in 2021, which just shows you how common (and serious) this illness is.

Data on PD Insurance gastro claim payouts this week alone range between $1,124 and $1,714 – showing you it can be both an alarming and expensive ordeal when your dog comes down with it.

With that in mind, let’s go over everything you need to know about gastroenteritis in dogs.  

What is it?

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of a dog’s stomach and intestines.

Gastroenteritis, or gastro as we commonly refer to it, can present in a few different ways. It can either be diarrhoea without your dog vomiting or diarrhoea with vomiting. It can also manifest in your furball as vomiting without diarrhoea, which is less likely. This is usually classified as gastritis as it most often affects only the stomach.

This is then further separated into two types; acute and chronic. Acute gastroenteritis develops suddenly while chronic gastroenteritis will continue over a much longer period – weeks, months or even years. Also, the acute variant will usually go away by itself, but not always; it may worsen over time until vet treatment.

Are there any other symptoms?

The easiest symptoms to notice come in the form of your dog vomiting and experiencing diarrhoea, as we discussed above. However, these will often be accompanied by some others, including: 

  • Lack of appetite
  • Gagging or dry heaving
  • Lethargy – this may be due to not eating or having stomach pain

Because of the lack of appetite, once vomiting has started it may, once the stomach has emptied, come in the form of a yellow, foamy liquid. This is acid coming up from the stomach.

Causes of gastroenteritis in pets

When your you see your dog vomiting or with diarrhoea, we can give the viral gastroenteritis infection the term “stomach flu”. This is often caused by viruses. However, gastroenteritis itself can occur for a wide number of reasons. 

These include:

  • Eating raw or undercooked food
  • Eating something toxic to dogs (find out more in our ‘can dogs eat…’ blog post)
  • A bacterial infection
  • Parasites
  • Abdominal disorders
  • Infections such as urinary tract infections or meningitis
  • Food allergies
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Cancer
Breeding dog gets health screening at vet

Dog vomiting: How to treat gastro

Because there are so many different reasons that could cause gastro, the treatment will vary depending on what’s causing it. We recommend you rely on what your vet decides is the best treatment after examining your pet. 

This could be as simple as stopping feeding for 24 hours to allow the gastrointestinal tract to settle. Your vet might recommend changing their diet or prescribe medication too. 

Dehydration is common with gastroenteritis in pets, so if your pet’s dehydrated they may be given fluids through an intravenous drip. They may also ask to keep your furbaby in the clinic if their condition is severe. When you do get to the point of bringing your boof home, ask your vet for further advice on how to best care for them during the recovery period.

Sometimes gastroenteritis is a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as kidney failure or cancer. If this is the case your vet will work together with you on the next steps in treating your furry friend.

Can you prevent dog vomiting and gastro?

While it’s no guarantee to prevent gastroenteritis in pets, nutrition plays a big role in a healthy stomach and gastrointestinal tract. It’s very often found that inappropriate dietary choices are at the heart of many of these cases of gastroenteritis in pets.

Proper gut health is integral do your dog living their best life – you’ll find our top tips for great dog gut health here. Getting it right from the beginning of their life with you will go a long way.

To do best by your pet, your vet will typically recommend food that’s low in fat and high in digestible fibre. We recommend keeping unsuitable human foods out of their reach, as well as keeping up to date with their pet vaccinations and worming treatment.

dog vomiting

Pet insurance: get it before you need it.

Whether it’s your dog vomiting from something else or coming down with gastro, or getting ill or injured due to another reason, make sure you have pet insurance before you need it.

Pet insurance only covers conditions that arise after you apply, so make sure your furbaby is covered early. It’s all about maximum protection and peace of mind for all. 

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