Enteritis is an inflammation of the small intestine and is caused by a wide range of potential problems. Parasites, bacteria, viruses, or allergies can all inflame the small intestines of your dog, causing diarrhea. An obstruction in the digestive tract can also trigger enteritis, so that missing sock or favorite Christmas ornament could also be the culprit.
Risk and Signs
All dogs and puppies are at risk for enteritis. Along with diarrhea, your pet may also experience:
- Abdominal pain and other stomach problems
- Black, tarry feces (melena)
- Weight loss
Because there are so many causes of enteritis, be sure to provide your veterinarian with a thorough history of your dog, including answers to the following:
- Travel history?
- Exposure to other dogs (such as going to the park or daycare)?
- Unsupervised access to your yard?
- Leashed on walks?
- Eaten any foreign objects, e.g., a Christmas ornament?
- Eaten from garbage?
- Changes in dog food?
If your veterinarian suspects enteritis, he will want to identify the underlying cause. In order to do this, he may recommend a combination of the following tests:
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function as well as sugar levels
- A complete blood count to rule out blood-related conditions
- Electrolyte tests to ensure your dog is neither dehydrated nor suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
- X-rays of the abdomen and intestinal tract to rule out obstructions
- An ultrasound to evaluate the integrity of your dog’s digestive tract
- An endoscopy to evaluate the intestinal tract
- Specific tests to rule out viral infections, such as parvovirus
- Fecal tests to identify if fecal parasites could be the cause
- Special fecal tests, such as cultures and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing
Dogs with enteritis, regardless of the cause, are often dehydrated and sometimes need to be given intravenous fluids. Depending on the severity, your dog may be hospitalized to more quickly gain control of the diarrhea and other debilitating symptoms. In less severe cases, your veterinarian may give you medications and instructions regarding how to care for your pet at home. It is very important that you carefully follow the treatment instructions from your veterinarian, to reduce the chance of the diarrhea recurring.
Vaccinations can protect your favorite dog from some of the viral causes of enteritis, such as parvovirus and distemper. Some of the best ways to keep your pet healthy are to watch what he eats, keep him free of parasites with monthly preventatives, and submit his fecal samples to your veterinarian. Keeping your dog away from trash and other unfamiliar items, such as people food, and restricting contact with potentially sick dogs in public places, like the park and boarding facilities, will also protect your dog from becoming sick.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM
Key Points on IBD in Dogs
Inflammatory bowel disease in dogs is a complicated gut inflammation condition that is yet to be understood completely in the veterinary medicine.
Gut bacteria is the most likely cause of IBD in dogs.
Certain dog breeds have a higher chance to develop IBD, but the cause is likely a combination of several factors rather than genetic predisposition alone.
There is no complete cure for IBD, but treatments include steroids and other drugs, as well as supplementation and dietary changes.
Steps To Treat Your Dog’s Upset Stomach
Analyze The Severity of The Discomfort
If you are planning to treat your pet at home, check how severe the stomach issue is in the first place.
Some stomach upsets are marked by diarrhea and vomiting that subside in an hour or two such cases can be treated at home.
If your pet is vomiting continuously and gets dehydrated quickly, then you need to rush him to a doctor right away.
Keep An Eye On The Hydration Level
A dog’s skin loses elasticity when dehydrated, and another sign of dehydration in your pet is gum dryness.
If you notice any one of these, then it is better that you take him to a vet and get treated.
Reduce Food Intake
It is advisable that you limit food intake, or even fasting for a while is okay. Leaving the stomach empty for some time will allow the digestive tract to recover.
If your pet continues to vomit even after fasting, then taking him to a vet is recommended.
Once you feel your pet is recovering, then start giving him a bland diet. Mix boiled rice and boneless meat together and give your pet to eat in little quantities.
Ensure that you avoid adding any spice or additional flavors and oils to the meat.
The point is to provide rest to the digestive system as much as possible. You can also try giving him a scoop of yogurt or cheese both are known to soothe inflammation in the intestine.
Keep a close eye on your pet’s health issues if you do not see an improvement in its health, then visit a vet immediately.
Sometimes, doctors may even suggest high doses of probiotic or other advanced treatment methods, do not hesitate to go for it but make sure that the vet you select is well known and has a good reputation in your locality.
Symptoms of Small Intestine Diarrhea in Dogs
Diarrhea in dogs is generally a symptom of underlying disease. Although most causes of diarrhea are related to the pet's gastrointestinal tract, diarrhea often occurs due to the side effects of certain medication and severe conditions such as lymphosarcoma. The vet will identify the origin of diarrhea, as the cause differs if the condition stems from the small intestine, large intestine or other parts of the pet's digestive tract.