Dog Acid Reflux Symptoms

Dog acid reflux is relatively common in dogs, more common in younger dogs. Acid reflux consists of the reverse flow of gastric fluids back into the esophagus from the stomach. It can be painful and difficult to detect.

Causes of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is usually caused by an esophageal sphincter that doesn't close properly. This allows the acidic fluid of the stomach to rise into the esophagus tube. Your dog's stomach is protected from the acidity of the fluids by a special lining, but the esophagus isn't, which causes a range of mild damage to severe ulceration. This can also be caused by chronic vomiting.

Foods that are high in fat contribute to acid reflux, so check the fat content of your dog's food and try to find a brand with a lower fat content. This might be a senior or diet brand.

Big, heavy meals also contribute, so instead of feeding your dog once a day, feed several small meals to help him digest.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is very difficult to detect because your dog can't describe to you that he has a burning feeling in his chest and throat.

Symptoms often include excessive vomiting, regurgitating food while eating, pain while swallowing, loss of appetite or weight loss. These are often difficult to detect without watching your dog eat.

If your dog frequently vomits a small amount of bile after eating, this can be another symptom. You may also hear a gurgling in your dog's stomach after meals. He may even seem a little uncomfortable after eating.

As you might suspect, diagnosis of acid reflux is often difficult because there aren't many obvious symptoms. A physical exam may not yield any obvious damage and may be diagnosed when other potential illnesses are eliminated.

The best diagnostic tool is an endoscopy, where a small camera is inserted down the throat of a dog to look for inflammation or ulceration of the esophagus. There may be unusual mucus associated with acid reflux, an irregular surface in the esophageal lining or active bleeding.

Management of Acid Reflux

The most effective treatment of acid reflux is often managing the diet by reducing the fat content and feeding smaller meals. There are some medications available, similar to the human medications for heartburn. However, don't give your dog an over-the-counter medication without consulting your veterinarian. Some human medications are harmful for dogs.

Once your dog has acid reflux, it will probably need to be managed for the life of the dog.

Acid reflux is a common illness in dogs that needs to be monitored. Since dogs often don't exhibit outward signs of pain, the pain is often much worse than it seems. Long-term acid reflux may lead to weight loss and loss of appetite since dogs don't want to do what is causing them pain—eating. Be aware of symptoms and make dietary changes if necessary to improve your dog's health.