Gastroesophageal Reflux in Dogs

Gastroesophageal Reflux in Dogs

Health & Safety

Dogs quite often suffer from digestive issues and this includes hyperacidity syndrome which is also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux. It's a disorder that sees dogs bringing up gastric and intestinal fluids hence the name reflux"". There are several reasons why a dog might develop gastroesophageal reflux and other hyperacidity syndromes with the main one being when the muscle opening at the base of their oesophagus is weakened or damaged in any way.

Dogs Most at Risk

The condition can affect any dog breed at any stage of their lives, although it is more usually seen in younger dogs. Studies have shown that for some reason young dogs appear to be at greater risk than their older counterparts although why this is so remains a bit of a mystery.

The Causes

The fluids in a dog's stomach are made up of several things which includes the following:

  • Stomach acid
  • Pepsin
  • Bile salts
  • Other gastrointestinal fluids

When dogs bring up any gastrointestinal fluid, it damages the protective mucous that lines their oesophagus and this in turn causes inflammation which is referred to as a condition known as oesophagitis. This can cause dogs to develop the condition. However, other reasons why a dog might experience gastroesophageal reflux could include the following:

  • A reaction to anaesthetic which is why it's so important for dogs not to eat the night before they are due to undergo any sort of invasive surgical procedure
  • A congenital disorder known as hiatal hernia
  • Long-term vomiting
  • A disease of the mouth or throat
  • Megaesophagus

Symptoms Associated with the Condition

The sort of symptoms a dog displays when they are suffering from gastroesophageal reflux depends on the amount of damage that's occurred to the lining of their oesophagus. Should a dog only be suffering from a mild case of the condition, the signs of there being something wrong are less severe. However, if any ulceration has occurred, it means more damage has been done to the lining of their oesophagus and therefore the symptoms are more serious too. The signs of there being something wrong typically includes the following:

  • Regurgitation of any food that's consumed
  • Pain when attempting to swallow
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of coat and body condition
  • Excessive salivation
  • Fever

Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to thoroughly examine a dog and ideally know their full medical history and how the onset of any symptoms first presented themselves. The more information that can be given, the better as it all helps when it comes to making a diagnosis. The vet would examine a dog's oesophagus by using an internal camera which would confirm how much damage has occurred to the lining and to see if any ulcers have formed. A vet would also be able to establish if any bleeding has occurred in the oesophagus.

Vets would also want to rule out any other reasons for a dog's symptoms and this includes whether a foreign object has become lodged somewhere that's causing all the problems or whether a tumour has developed in a dog's oesophagus.

Treatment Options

When dogs develop hyperacidity syndromes like gastroesophageal reflux, they can normally be treated as outpatients. A vet would typically recommend not feeding a dog for a couple of days before feeding them a low-protein, low-fat diet. It is best to feed smaller, more frequent meals rather than one or two large ones too. The end goal of feeding this low fat and low protein diet is to strengthen the muscle that's found between a dog's oesophagus and their stomachs while at the same time stimulating more secretion of gastric fluids and acids.

A vet might prescribe specific medication which would help improve the movement of food through a dog’s system and more especially the movement of stomach content through the intestines. Dogs suffering from gastroesophageal reflux also benefit from being specific drugs that help strengthen their gastroesophageal sphincter.

Living with a Dog with Hyperacidity Syndromes

Should a dog have been diagnosed as suffering from the condition and successfully treated, they need to be fed a low protein, low fat diet to ensure the problem does not flare up again. As such, a dog’s condition needs to be carefully monitored and if they show any signs of suffering from gastroesophageal reflux again, another trip to the vet would be necessary so their condition can be reassessed and treated again.




Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services

Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale