Symptoms of a Stomach Virus in a Dog

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Just like humans, dogs can contract a number of viruses that infect the stomach or intestines. While dogs often overcome many of these viruses on their own, some viruses are deadly. Accordingly, you should consult your veterinarian anytime you notice dog stomach virus symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea that last more than a day or two.

Dog stomach virus symptoms

Vomiting, which is a different symptom than regurgitation, is one of the most common symptoms of stomach or intestinal viruses in dogs. Whereas vomiting is the forceful expulsion of digested food from the intestines, regurgitation is the passive expulsion of undigested food. If your dog has a stomach bug, symptoms that cause vomiting include other signs such as salivation, licking, and swallowing. Vomiting typically takes a lot of effort and you will see your dog's abdomen contract.

Dogs often vomit because they have simply eaten something that disagrees with them, but it can also indicate a dangerous virus, such as parvovirus. If your dog continues to vomit for more than a day, he may suffer other problems such as dehydration.

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Prolonged diarrhea in dogs

A number of serious viruses can cause diarrhea in dogs. Distemper, for example, can cause vomiting and diarrhea, although the first symptoms are usually high fever, red eyes, and a runny nose. Another dangerous virus is parvovirus, which causes bloody diarrhea and severe vomiting, both of which contribute to rapid dehydration in afflicted dogs. Vaccines are available that prevent dogs from acquiring both distemper and parvovirus, so be sure your dog has been properly vaccinated.

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In addition to these serious illnesses, several other less serious viruses can cause diarrhea, such as coronavirus and rotavirus, the most common cause of intestinal upset. Other symptoms that may accompany diarrhea include dehydration, loss of appetite, weight loss, and lethargy.

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Bloating and stomach pain

Dogs with stomach viruses may suffer from bloating and abdominal pain. Dogs who adopt the "praying" position with their head down and hind parts elevated may be suffering from abdominal pain. It is important to see your veterinarian if your dog exhibits signs of severe bloating, particularly if it appears suddenly, as it can signal a life-threatening problem, in which your dog's stomach twists along its axis.

Deadly virus diagnosis

While many intestinal viruses only cause relatively minor illness and usually resolve in short order, some viruses are deadly if not treated promptly. For example, canine circovirus, a disease whose primary symptoms are intestinal disturbances, can be fatal to dogs, as it causes internal bleeding.

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Additionally, parvovirus, distemper virus, and several other viruses that infect the stomach or intestinal tract of dogs can be fatal. Puppies are especially at risk for these viruses until they finish receiving their puppy vaccinations.

Veterinary examination and treatment

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Your veterinarian usually will treat your dog by administering fluids and electrolytes to rehydrate him. Additionally, he will evaluate the dog stomach virus symptoms you share, complete a physical examination of your dog, and take samples to perform diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the illness. Tests may include blood work, urine tests, x-rays, ultrasound, and biopsies.

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Upon arriving at a diagnosis, the vet may prescribe additional medications to treat the virus, or simply provide further supportive care until your dog's immune system fights off the illness. Supportive care may include a bland diet and nausea medication. If your dog has a contagious condition, such as parvovirus, he may need to be isolated until he recovers.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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