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Acid Reflux In Dogs

 Submitted by Michael Adams on November 9, 2010

Acid reflux or heartburn, also called gastroesophageal reflux, is a condition that is prevalent in dogs just as it is in humans. In this condition, gastric or intestinal fluids flow back into the esophageal tube (the tube that connects the throat and the stomach) causing a burning sensation. Acid reflux in dogs takes place when the sphincter relaxes briefly or if the dog suffers from constant vomiting.

Though younger dogs are at a greater risk of acid reflux (because their esophageal sphincters are not completely developed), the condition can affect a dog at any age. Acid reflux can cause esophagitis, a condition in which stomach acid, bile salts and pepsin inflame the esophageal lining. An acute ulcerative esophagitis can damage the esophagus right up to its deeper layers.

A dog that suffers from acid reflex tends to regurgitate the food it has consumed. He will experience pain while swallowing food and will whimper or whine while eating. He will also lose appetite when suffering from acid reflux. Rapid weight loss is another symptom of acid reflux. So, if a dog loses weight even without any increase in its physical activity, it could indicate acid reflux. A decrease in the level of activity after eating is also a sign of acid reflux in canines. If the acid reflux is severe, it can also cause fever and excessive salivation.

An unhealthy dog diet is one of the main causes of acid reflux. The owner must avoid giving the dog a high-fat food diet especially if it suffers from acid reflux. The condition may also affect a dog if it is positioned wrongly while being administered an anesthesia or if it has not been fasted properly before it. The anesthesia relaxes the gastroesophageal sphincter causing acid reflux. Hiatal hernia, a congenital condition, also increases the risk of gastroesophageal reflux. Acid reflux can be diagonosed by esophagoscopy, an examination in which an internal camera examines the lining of the esophagus. Acid reflux in dog treatment can be provided at home by making the dog fast for a day or two and then making sure that the diet is low in fats and protein. Fats weaken the muscle between the stomach and esophagus and protein stimulates the production of gastric acids. Low fat and low protein meals must be given in small portions and frequently instead of two heavy meals. Medication also helps in treating acid reflux. When the dog suffers from this condition, it must be taken to the vet immediately.

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