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Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux), is a relatively common ailment in dogs. It occurs when gastric fluids flow backward from the stomach into the esophagus, which is not covered by a protective linings like the stomach. This causes damage to the esophageal lining and inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis).

Causes

Acid reflux occurs when the muscular opening at the base of the esophagus, the sphincter, is weak or damaged. This malfunctioning valve then allows stomach acid, bile, pepson and other gastrointestinal fluids to come in contact with esophageal lining. The sphincter may relax improperly after an animal has undergone anesthesia or been recumbent during surgery. Chronic vomiting can weakin the sphincter, example if a dog is experiencing long-term vomiting as a result of another condition is often considered at rish for developing acid reflux. A hiatal hernia, a cogenital condition that causes the stomach to sit farther forward than normal, can also be the blame. In addition, acid reflux can occur after a dog as eaten a high-fat meal. In general, younger dogs seems to be at a higher risk of developing acid reflux than older dogs. This is likely because young dogs' esophageal sphincters are underdeveloped. Obesity is also considered a risk factor for developing acid reflux. 

Symptoms

  • Gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
  • Visible signs of pain
  • Whining or vocalizing pain while swallowing
  • Discomfort
  • Stress; pacing or flatulence
  • Fever (severe cases)

Diagnosis

Your Veterinarian will most likely perform a esophagoscopy to diagnose a case of acid reflux. This consists of putting the dog under anesthesia and inserting an endoscope into the esophagus to view the esophageal lininng. If the ulceration and inflammation typical of acid reflux is found, diagnosis is confirmed.

Treatment

In most cases, hospitalization is not required. A low-fat easily digestible diet recommended by a veterinarian will need to be implemented, along with possible portion size and meal schedule modifications as advised by a veterinarian. Medications may be prescribed to your dog. Antacids can help lower the acidity of gastrointestinal fluids and prevent further esophegeal damage. Other medication strengthen the esophageal sphincter and help the stomach contents to move through the intestines.

Prevention

Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet can prevent the condistion in many cases. Obesity is another risk factor. so keeping a pet at a healthy weight with a proper diet and exercise is also key. High-fat foods make acid refulx worse.