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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers View In Cats

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Condition Overview

Stomach and duodenal ulcers are being diagnosed more frequently in dogs due to the wider use of gastroscopy.

Symptoms

The principal sign of an ulcer is sporadic or chronic vomiting. Dogs may also loose weight and be anemic.

Occasionally, the vomitus contains old blood (which looks like coffee grounds) or fresh blood and blood clots, although the bleeding in many ulcers is microscopic. With rapid bleeding the dog goes into shock and passes black, tarry stools. Stomach and duodenal ulcers can rupture into the abdomen, causing peritonitis - an inflammation (irritation) of the peritoneum, the
tissue that lines the wall of the abdomen and covers the abdominal
organs.

Causes

The usual cause of ulcers in dogs is corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen which can be prescribed long-term for conditions such as arthritis. Dogs are more susceptible to the ulcer-producing effects of these drugs than humans.

Although bacteria are often the cause of ulcers in humans, this is not the usual cause for ulcers in dogs. However, helicobacter species (a bacteria) have been found in dogs.

Other conditions that predispose a dog to ulcers include all forms of liver disease, kidney failure, extreme stress from severe illness or major surgery, chronic gastritis (particularly the eodinophilic type), and shock.

Most cell tumors of the skin can cause ulcers. This is because these tumors produce and release histamine, which is a powerful stimulant to acid secretion. In fact, ulcers occur in up to 80 percent of dogs with mast cell tumors.

Eating pennies can also cause ulcers as they are very toxic to a dogs system.

Diagnosis

Superficial ulcers are patches of inflamed and eroded mucosa covered by white or yellow pus and can be seen through the endoscope. Ulcers occur more often in the stomach than in the duodenum.

Deep ulcers are punched out areas involving all layers of the stomach wall. Ulcers can be single or multiple, and can range in size from less than 1 inch (2.5cm) to several inches in diameter.

In dogs with non specific signs, such as chronic vomiting, the diagnosis may be made by gastroscopy.

Treatment

Perforated ulcers require emergency surgery. Dogs with gastrointestinal bleeding should be hospitalized for observation and further tests. Severe anemia is treated with blood transfusions. It is important to identify and eliminate predisposing causes. Discontinue all ulcer producing medications.

Ulcer drugs used in humans are also effective in dogs. They include the histamine blockers Tagamet (omeprazole); and antacids such as Mylanta, Maalox, and Amphogel. These drugs are best taken in combination (an antacid along with a histamine blocker), several times a day. A veterinarian should determine the most effective drug combination and schedule. Treatment is continued for at least 3 - 4 weeks.

Prevention

Limit any excessive administration of ulcer producing drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Some cats and almost all dogs will chew and possibly swallow just about anything that catches their interest. Be sure not to leave batteries, coins, or other potentially harmful items within reach of pets. If you see your pet swallow something that may be potentially dangerous, call your vet right away.

For cats, regular brushing will help reduce the amount of hair they swallow during their grooming sessions. Although this may not prevent ulcers from occurring, it may help reduce irritation of the stomach and small intestine that may make the existing condition worse.

CAUTION: Do not give acetaminophen to cats, they lack the enzyme that flushes it from the body, and their livers cannot handle it.

If your vet has recommended you give your dog aspirin, always give it with food, to prevent direct irritation of the stomach lining. Also, try to use a buffered brand, which is easier on the stomach.

Support

A follow up gastroscopy is advisable to ensure that healing is complete.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats

Publisher: Bantam Dell Publishing, 1996

Website: http://www.randomhouse.com/bantamdell/

Authors: Matthew Hoffman, Laura Catalano, Maryanne Dell

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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