Symptoms of Gastric Ulcers
The symptoms of gastric ulcers are very similar to those of gastritis, which is a general term for inflammation of the mucosal lining of the stomach. They include:
- Vomiting (emesis; can be sporadic or chronic; vomitus often contains digested blood that looks like coffee grounds)
- Abdominal pain (often manifested by a “praying” or “bowing” posture)
- Loss of appetite (anorexia; inappetance)
- Weight loss
- Pale, tacky gums and other mucus membranes
- Black, tarry stools (from digested blood)
In severe cases, the blood loss from gastric ulcers can cause even more severe symptoms, including:
- Loss of consciousness
Any dog with chronic vomiting that includes evidence of digested blood may have gastric ulcers and should be seen by a veterinarian.
Dogs at Increased Risk
Gastric ulcers can affect dogs of any age, breed or gender. Certain commonly-used medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and also corticosteroids, are known to cause gastric distress, including ulceration, in companion dogs. Prolonged dehydration can reduce the amount of blood circulating through the gastrointestinal tract and can also predispose dogs to stomach ulceration.