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GI Issues And Your Pet



There are quite a few diseases that are included in the gastrointestinal system. Gastritis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and pancreatitis just to name a few. These are the most common GI issues I see when I work.

Gastritis is the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Some causes are overuse of NSAIDs and ingesting foreign objects or substances. Gastritis can be either acute or chronic, depending on how long it has been occurring. Symptoms can include lack of appetite, vomiting, and dehydration. Some other symptoms that can be seen are lethargy, blood in stool, and abdominal pain. Usually veterinarians diagnose gastritis by a physical exam, clinical history, and a blood profile (includes CBC - complete blood count - and chemistry). Treatment usually consists of not feeding or giving your pet anything by mouth for 24 hours, a bland diet, antiemetics, antibiotics when needed, and fluid therapy (either IV or subcutaneously).

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) is the sudden onset of bloody diarrhea and vomiting in dogs and cats. Causes are usually unknown, but can include dietary changes or indiscretions, stress, anxiety, trauma, intestinal parasites, stomach ulcers, or food intolerances. Usually HGE is very acute and can be scary at home. Symptoms include very bright, bloody diarrhea with or without mucus, vomiting with or without blood, lethargy, painful abdomen, and maybe fever. Veterinarians diagnose HGE via bloodwork, history, physical exam, and fecal exam to rule out intestinal parasites. Treatment can include supportive care with antibiotics, gastric protectants, fluid care (IV or subcutaneously), and slowly reintroducing food.

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. Some causes include obesity, high-fat diets, medications or toxins, and endocrine diseases (hypothyroidism). Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Symptoms can include obesity, vomiting, diarrhea, loss in appetite, lethargy, and abdominal pain. Veterinarians diagnose pancreatitis by history, physical exam, a blood profile (increases in lipase seen on chemistry) and even the use of a SNAP test in house. Treatment consists of a low fat diet long-term, fluid therapy, and supportive medications. Usually, relapses are seen.

There are plenty more gastrointestinal diseases out there, but in veterinary medicine, these are most common. If you see any of these signs or symptoms at home, be sure to bring your pet to see your vet ASAP.


-Madison, Certified Veterinary Assistant and Veterinary Technician at Gardens Animal Hospital.


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