Gastroenteritis in dogs: causes, symptoms & treatments

vet holding small brown dog on her knee on a yellow background

It’s tough to watch our usually upbeat pooch struck down with sickness – especially when we feel helpless to soothe them. Gastroenteritis can be an unpleasant experience for dogs and should be taken seriously, but when picked up early, they usually make a full recovery. You can also feed your dog a combination of gut-friendly foods and supplements to both ease the symptoms of gastroenteritis and prevent another bout in future.

Read on for an in-depth guide to the causes, symptoms and treatment for gastroenteritis in dogs (and brace yourself for talk of poop).

What is gastroenteritis in dogs?

Gastroenteritis literally means ‘inflammation of the stomach and intestines’. As a dog’s stomach is delicate and very responsive to bacteria and toxins, gastroenteritis in dogs is a relatively common condition (1). It usually causes vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pains in dogs as well as dry heaving and lethargy – though not necessarily all of those things.

There are different severities of gastroenteritis, so it pays to be vigilant when noticing unusual bowel movements or ‘off’ behaviour in your dog. Though common gastroenteritis is treatable and usually passes quickly, there are other more aggressive forms to look out for – and sometimes, gastroenteritis can be a symptom of something else.

How long does gastroenteritis last? Acute and chronic gastroenteritis in dogs

How long gastroenteritis lasts is variable, and highly dependent on what your dog has picked up. If it comes on suddenly and randomly in a one-off bout of sickness, it’s acute gastroenteritis. If your dog has had diarrhoea or been repeatedly unwell for a period of weeks or even months, this could be chronic gastroenteritis – which can indicate an underlying problem or condition.

What is hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) in dogs?

Beware of blood in your dog’s stools, as this could indicate hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) – a more severe form of the condition caused by a specific bacteria in your dog’s gut. HGE usually clears up with emergency treatment, but it can be lethal if ignored, and is more commonly seen in smaller dogs (2). Take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect it.

white dog on a yellow background

 What causes gastroenteritis in dogs?

Gastroenteritis has many forms and is picked up in lots of ways – so you may never find out exactly what caused it. 



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