Many of us may well know that uncomfortable and often painful feeling when you suffer from ‘heartburn’. But did you know that dogs can suffer too?
Of course, all dogs will sometimes eat something they shouldn’t or ‘wolf down’ their food too quickly causing digestive problems. But we could also be talking about GERD – that’s gastroesophageal reflux disease.
In dogs, this is caused by the ‘backflow’ of stomach acid and intestinal fluids into the oesophagus, or throat, with the potential to damage the lining of the oesophagus.
How to spot the signs that your dog has acid reflux?
They can’t tell you if they don’t feel well or what’s hurting and the symptoms may not always be easy to detect. Listen out for loud tummy gurgling and possible vomiting of bile!
Also, your dog may lose his appetite, particularly first thing in the morning. He may eat, then rush out to eat grass and then vomit or you may notice a tendency to ‘hunch over’ after eating.
He may rapidly regurgitate undigested food or you may notice restlessness, pacing, panting or licking of the lips due to his discomfort.
What causes acid reflux in dogs?
Typically, it may be caused by poor digestion, food intolerances and allergies or medical conditions such as hypochlorhydria – low levels of stomach acid, or intestinal/bowel disorders.
So, always check first with your Vet if you are concerned as dietary changes may be necessary. Next, let's talk about probiotics and their benefits on your dog's gut environment...
For a healthy immune system, it’s important to maintain a healthy level of ‘good bacteria’ in order to support digestion.
Many different factors can disrupt that important balance and possibly lead to other health problems
- physical or emotional stress (sometimes caused by a change in routine or environment)
- a sudden change in diet
- some veterinary drugs – such as antibiotics, steroids and vaccinations. It has been reported that the earlier in life that an animal is prescribed antibiotics, the greater is their risk of developing obesity, diabetes and liver disease.
- Poor quality diet, or inappropriate diet
- Pica (that’s eating non-food items like sticks, faeces, or pebbles etc)
- Inflammatory bowel disease or other gastrointestinal diseases
- Ingesting pesticides, insecticides or fertilisers or drinking contaminated water
The beneficial bacteria that are needed by your dog to maintain a healthy level of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut can also help and to discourage the increase of possible ‘unfriendly’ or ‘pathogenic’ bacteria.
Your dog’s digestive tract is designed to cope with the bacterial load from their food. But studies have shown that dogs who do not have those friendly bacteria, or who have a poor balance of good and bad gut bacteria, are at an increased risk of developing digestive other health problems from allergies to autoimmune disease.
If physical or emotional stresses upset that bacterial balance, it can lead to nutritional problems such as poor nutrient absorption and occasional or even chronic diarrhoea. Dysbiosis – ‘leaky gut syndrome’ can be another issue; and could allow partially digested amino acids and allergens into the blood stream.