Pet Gastritis

An Irritated Stomach is a Common Reason for Veterinarian Visits

Tabby cat rests on furniture

A dog or cat can spend many happy moments investigating the contents of a garbage can.

His good feelings may be short-lived, however. A few mouthfuls of spoiled food could spell misery for him. And he’s not alone.

Gastritis, the inflammation of the stomach lining, was the fourth most-common reason Nationwide pet insurance members brought their cats to the veterinarian last year, and was the seventh most common reason dogs visited vets.

If your pet has been vomiting for a few days or longer, and is lethargic, he may have gastritis. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has this condition.

Causes of Tummy Upset

Acute gastritis is defined as vomiting that lasts less than seven days. The most likely causes are: 

  • Your pet ate something that disagreed with him, such as spoiled food, plants, a foreign body or hair.
  • He had an allergic reaction or sensitivity to something he ate.
  • He ate a chemical irritant like fertilizer or a cleaner.
  • A drug or medication upset his stomach.
  • He has a bacterial or viral infection or a parasite.
  • He has acute pancreatitis. 
  • He has sepsis or is in shock.

Chronic gastritis can be caused by long-term exposure to the causes of acute gastritis. It could also be a symptom of gastric or intestinal obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome or even stomach cancer.

Symptoms of Gastritis

Nausea, vomiting and lethargy are the usual signs of gastritis. Vomiting episodes that last more than 24 hours may indicate your pet has a serious illness such as pancreatitis. You should always consult your pet’s veterinarian prior to withholding water or administering any home treatment or over-the-counter medication. 

Your veterinarian may opt to run blood tests, a urinalysis and analyze the feces. In some cases, your pet may need further testing such as an abdominal ultrasound, radiograph or endoscopy.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet continues to exhibit signs of gastritis even after food and water has been withheld for a prescribed period of time, if he has blood in his vomit, abdominal pain or shows any other signs of illness.


Helping Your Pet Feel Better

Golden retriever lays on grass with soccer ball

Follow your veterinarian’s suggestions as far as diet and hydration are concerned. Often, after withholding food and water for a prescribed time and then gradually introducing a bland diet, gastritis resolves on its own.

Your pet’s gastrointestinal tract needs to rest. Usually, after a few days with no symptoms, your pet can resume his normal diet.

Some pets with acute gastritis need antacids such as Tagamet or gastrointestinal protectants such as PeptoBismol. Always consult with your veterinarian; to prevent accidental toxicity, do not treat your pet at home without knowing proper dosage and instructions.

Protect Your Pet

No matter how closely you watch your pet, there is always a chance he will ingest something he shouldn’t. Or maybe he’ll have a reaction to a new food or medicine.

Nationwide pet insurance members filed more than 30,000 claims for gastritis for dogs last year, and close to 2,500 claims for cats.