What is gastroenteritis in dogs?


The gastrointestinal tract is a hollow tube running through the body from the mouth to the anus. Each section is responsible for a different part of the food digestion process. Gastroenteritis in dogs occurs when either the gastric (stomach) or enteric (intestinal) part of the tract are affected by inflammation.

Gastroenteritis is characterised by symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhoea. If only vomiting is present, the condition may be called gastritis or enteritis if only diarrhoea is present. There may be blood visible in the vomit or faeces. Dehydration is a danger if the fluids being lost are not replaced. Gastroenteritis can be either acute which lasts a few days or chronic which is ongoing. A huge number of things can cause gastroenteritis. Some of the most common are eating something that disagrees with the dog, an infectious organism, parasites or a foreign body. Switching to a new diet too quickly can also cause a problem, which is why transitioning your dog to a new food over a few days is recommended. This also gives an opportunity to see if anything in the new food causes a problem as either an intolerance or allergic reaction.

Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis in dogs is a condition that usually occurs without warning and presents most obviously as large amounts of alarming bloody diarrhoea. Dogs with haemorrhagic gastroenteritis will often appear very ill, with fever, depression and lethargy, and can become dehydrated and very ill rapidly without appropriate treatment. If not given the necessary treatment promptly, haemorrhagic gastroenteritis can result in the death of the dog, so please go to your local vet as soon as you see these symptoms.

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