What Are the Treatments for Stomach Ulcers in Dogs?


Treatments for stomach ulcers in dogs depend on what caused the break in the stomach or intestinal protective lining. Poisoning can cause stomach ulceration, as can certain medications. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids. If the ulceration is severe enough to perforate the stomach, the subsequent blood loss can kill a dog. If you suspect your dog has been poisoned or he exhibits signs of a serious gastrointestinal disorder, take him to the vet immediately.

How Ulcers Start

  • A gastrointestinal ulcer develops when the stomach or intestinal mucous lining becomes exposed and the tissue starts dying. It's basically a hole or lesion in the mucosa wall, causing the lining to bleed. Your vet will conduct blood tests, fecal checks and a urinalysis on your dog to make a diagnosis, and use an endoscope to investigate the stomach and small intestine. With an endoscope, she can also perform a biopsy.

Canine Ulcer Symptoms

  • Canine ulcer symptoms include black, tarry stools -- the result of intestinal bleeding -- or bloody diarrhea, appetite loss, abdominal pain and vomiting. The dog's vomitus might contain blood or it can look like he threw up coffee grounds. Those "coffee grounds" are actually partly digested blood. The dog may seem nauseous, with drooling or attempting to swallow signs of stomach discomfort. Some dogs suffering from stomach ulcers remain asymptomatic.

Emergency Surgery

  • If the stomach appears perforated or the diagnostic tests indicate that perforation is imminent, your vet may perform an emergency surgery. With surgery a last resort, the affected dog often doesn't have a good prognosis. Once the stomach is perforated, the survival rate is only about 30 percent, the Merck Veterinary Manual notes.

Underlying Conditions

  • The vet must treat any underlying condition causing stomach ulceration. Testing, X-rays and ultrasounds can reveal the primary culprit responsible for your dog's illness. This might include kidney or liver disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison's disease, blood poisoning, bacterial or viral infections, parasites or trauma. While the dog receives medication and supportive care for the ulcers, it's vital to address the initial cause.

Stomach Ulcer Medication and Dietary Changes

  • Stomach ulcer medications should reduce acidity and protect the injured stomach lining. Common medications recommended for this purpose include cimetidine, sold under the brand name Tagamet, which reduces stomach acid, promoting ulcer healing. Your vet might also prescribe sucrose octasulfate, marketed under the brand name Sucralfate, to treat your dog's ulcers. This drug works in the short term by forming a protective gel within the ulcerous lesion. Dogs with mild ulcers might receive antiacid therapy.

    Your vet may prescribe a special low-fat diet for your dog to combat his stomach ulcers. The prescription dog food might be designed specifically for gastrointestinal issues, or for canines with kidney disease, if that is the primary cause of stomach ulceration. Check with your vet regarding treats or homemade food for your pet.

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