Causes of Stomach Ulcers in Dogs
Gastric ulcers can be caused by many things. Common causes include:
- Ingestion of toxic substances
- Ingestion of foreign objects
- Administration of irritating oral medications (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids)
- Allergies (hypersensitivity reactions)
- Cancer (primary or metastatic neoplasia)
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)
- Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease)
- Liver (hepatic) disease or failure
- Chronic renal (kidney) failure
- Intervertebral disk disease
- Mast cell tumors (which release histamine, a powerful stimulant of gastric acid secretion)
- Other neurologic, metabolic, endocrine or systemic abnormalities
Preventing Stomach Ulcers
Dietary modification and management can help prevent stomach ulcers and may also reduce the severity of symptoms in dogs already suffering from severe gastric ulceration. Highly digestible diets reduce the inflammation and irritation associated with ulcers. Feeding small meals multiple times a day can also help relieve gastrointestinal irritation. Dogs should always have free access to fresh water, unless advised otherwise by a veterinarian.
Certain medications (NSAIDs; steroids) can contribute to stomach discomfort and should be administered carefully to minimize the risk of gastric ulcers. In some cases, they should be removed from the dog’s regimen entirely. A drug called Misoprostol may reduce the risk of gastric ulceration in dogs that are being given NSAIDs. Because stress commonly contributes to gastrointestinal irritation in companion dogs, owners should assess their dog’s environment to identify and eliminate any particular stressors, such as loud noises. Owners should also ensure that their dogs have a secure and private place for rest and regular exercise and play times during the day.
One of the most important complications of stomach ulcers is blood loss anemia. Another critical complication is stomach perforation, which can lead to septic peritonitis, shock and even death.