Last week we looked at normal stomachs. Most of us have had stomach abnormalities, and these are common with pets also. Vomiting can be caused by stomach issues, but can also come
from a host of other sources. Most pets with stomach issues will not eat. Physical exam and a good medical history are important to diagnosing stomach problems. Labwork, x-rays, contrast studies with barium and even surgery can be required for diagnosis in some cases.
Dogs and cats don ™t get ulcers as often as people. Ulcers in pets are usually due to either medi-
cations (prednisone and certain pain meds) or cancers. These drugs and tumors sort of disrupt the production of mucus and allow the acid to damage the stomach wall. Several types of cancer can occur in the stomach and are most common in middle aged to older pets. If a pet vomits for awhile, stomach acid can damage the esophageal sphincter muscle (see last week) and esophagus. This can lead to continuing reflux of acid into the esophagus which is very painful. Animals are famous for eating things they shouldn ™t. Some of these things are irritating to the stomach, and others are just too big to pass out of the stomach. A foreign object (sock, racquetball, etc.) in the stomach can plug up the œexit and lead to violent vomiting. Larger, deep chested dogs, like Great Danes and Standard Poodles, are prone to a condition called gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV). Since the stomach just sort of hangs in the abdomen, if it gets full and starts swinging (if the dog is active), it can actually twist on itself. This traps air and fluid inside the stomach which very quickly causes bloating and death of the stomach wall Just 30 minutes in this state can be enough to lead to death.
Many stomach problems are milder and easy to handle. If you have a pet that vomits, doesn ™t eat
well or is losing weight, come see us.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP