Acid reflux is a common issue that affects both humans and animals, including dogs. It is the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus and can cause discomfort, pain, and even long-term damage. In humans, it is often referred to as heartburn, but do dogs get acid reflux? The answer is yes, and it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
There are a variety of causes for acid reflux in dogs, including age, breed, having an anesthetic, and anatomy. Symptoms of acid reflux in dogs can include problems swallowing, lip licking, regurgitation, restlessness, eating less food, weight loss, coughing, smelly breath, dribbling, and bringing up bile. It can be difficult to differentiate between regurgitation and vomiting, but regurgitation often happens suddenly and the food is undigested and in a sausage shape.
In order to diagnose acid reflux in dogs, the vet will first want to examine the pup and run blood tests and a urine sample to rule out other conditions. X-rays and ultrasounds can show where the problem might be, and an endoscope can be used to look for signs of acid reflux, such as inflammation or ulcers. Other possible diagnosis include a growth or tumor, irritation or burns from a swallowed object, an obstruction or foreign body, and megaesophagus.
Treatment for acid reflux in dogs is based on reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach and protecting the gut from the irritating acid. To reduce stomach acid irritation, a low-fat diet, smaller meals, antacids, and pro-kinetics can be used. To protect the gut from acid, neutralizing medications and a liquid medication that lines the gut to protect it from irritation and neutralize the stomach acid can be prescribed. In addition, surgery may be needed to fix a hernia.
In terms of diet, pumpkin is an excellent addition to help with digestive problems. It is low in fat, helps to neutralize the acid in the stomach, and is high in fiber, which is easy to digest and encourages effective stomach emptying. Best dog food for acid reflux is low in fat to reduce the amount of acid needed to digest a meal. Prescription diets can be purchased to give your pup everything they need while helping to manage their condition. Honey can help soothe any inflammation and has antioxidant properties to heal damage in the food pipe. Probiotics can also help to keep levels of stomach acid under control and improve the immune system.
The best way to keep a happy and healthy dog with acid reflux is to consult your veterinarian to get the proper diagnosis and determine if there are any underlying causes. Some dogs may only have episodes now and again and may even get better without treatment, while others will need management for their whole lives. Feeding your pup a low-fat diet and small frequent meals will help keep their symptoms at bay. If that doesn’t help, medication may be prescribed to make them more comfortable. With the right treatment and management, your pup can easily live a happy and healthy life despite their diagnosis.