Overview of Canine Gastrointestinal Ulcerations
Gastrointestinal ulcerations are inflammatory lesions that extend into the deeper layers of the dog's gastrointestinal tract, going beyond the mucosa (lining). They need to be differentiated from erosions, which are more superficial and involve only the mucosa.
Causes of Gastrointestinal Ulcerations
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Gastrointestinal Ulcerations in Dogs
Various tests are necessary to determine if an ulcer is present and the effects of the ulcer on the body. Tests may include:
Treatment for Gastrointestinal Ulcerations in Dogs
Individuals with gastrointestinal ulceration may be treated as outpatients if there are minimal signs, no systemic effects, and especially if there is a known cause that can be removed immediately. Specific treatments may include:
Home Care and Prevention
Administer all medication and dietary recommendations as directed by your veterinarian. If your dog becomes weak or pale, collapses, or vomits blood, seek veterinary attention at once.
Avoid gastric (stomach) irritants and stressful situations. If an underlying disorder has been diagnosed, treat your dog as directed, so as to prevent the onset of secondary ulcers.
Information In-depth for Gastrointestinal Ulcerations in Dogs
Gastrointestinal ulceration is the result of factors that alter, damage, or overwhelm the normal defense and normal repair mechanisms of the gastrointestinal mucosal (lining) barrier. There is no predilection for a particular age group or breed, and signs can be extremely variable from patient to patient. Some patients may have no clinical signs, while others may be in immediate need of intensive support and hospitalization, including blood transfusions.
There are many causes of gastrointestinal ulceration that range from drugs to tumors. It is important to realize that while some cases of ulceration are clear cut when reviewing the history, physical examination, and diagnostic findings, such as in the case of high dose aspirin administration in a dog with severe arthritis, others are more difficult to determine.
There are many diseases and disorders that cause similar clinical signs to patients with gastrointestinal ulceration, including:
Diagnosis In-depth of Gastrointestinal Ulcerations in Dogs
A diagnosis of gastrointestinal ulceration can be made more easily in some cases than in others, on the basis of history and clinical findings. Examples of these might include aspirin administration or known foreign body ingestion. A full diagnostic work-up is recommended, regardless of the cause.
Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to ensure optimal medical care. These are selected on a case-by-case basis.
Therapy In-depth for Dogs with Gastrointestinal Ulcerations
Management of gastrointestinal ulcers center around treatment of the primary cause, inhibition of acid secretion, and, if necessary, control of hemorrhage. In cases of gastrointestinal ulceration, symptomatic therapy may be of benefit. These treatments may reduce severity of symptoms or provide relief for your dog. However, nonspecific therapy is not a substitute for definitive treatment of the underlying disease responsible for your dog's condition.
Follow-up Care for Dogs with Gastrointestinal Ulcerations
Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your dog does not rapidly improve. Administer all prescribed medication and diet as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your dog.
Discontinue and avoid any medication or substance that may be causing or exacerbating ulceration. Depending on the underlying cause of gastrointestinal ulceration, it may be necessary to return to your veterinarian for reevaluation of certain tests.