Diagnosis of canine gastric ulcers and other intestinal disorders are typically seen in middle-age dogs and older dogs rather than in puppies. But puppies can develop gastric ulcers, particularly after ingestion of foreign or toxic materials, or certain medications; or can develop them due to parasites, illness or infection. Numerous canine medical conditions present symptoms similar to those associated with gastric ulcers, so accurate diagnosis is critical.
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Lack of appetite, weight loss, lethargy and vomiting, particularly with the presence of blood, are signs of gastric ulcers in puppies. Because puppies are in the early stages of development, serious health issues like gastric ulcers can be extremely dangerous for them, as internal bleeding can lead to shock or even death. Bloody or dark tarlike diarrhea is another sign of ulcer that requires immediate attention. Prompt treatment from a veterinary medical professional is crucial for a successful outcome.
A variety of factors can contribute to gastric ulcers in pups. Puppies that develop gastric ulcers may be suffering from infection or treatment with medication -- like aspirin or ibuprofen -- that can lead to irritation and erosion of the gastrointestinal tract. In rare cases, mast cell cancers or other growths may contribute to the presence of gastric ulcers in puppies. Diagnosis is typically made via blood work and analysis of vomit and feces samples, or via gastroscopy.
Neutralizing the cause of the ulcer is typically the first step in treating a gastric ulcer in a puppy. For example, if it is determined that a puppy has been ingesting a medication or substance that's causing the problem, a vet would likely recommend discontinuation of the treatment. Emergency surgery may be necessary for an ulcer that is perforated and bleeding. Medication may be prescribed to treat the gastric ulcer, such as canine-appropriate antacids or histamine blockers.
Never give a puppy human medication or medication not specifically prescribed for your pup by a vet. If your vet diagnoses your puppy with a particular food allergy that is contributing to the gastric ulcer, avoid that food and follow whatever prescribed diet plan your medical provider suggests. Closely monitor your puppy for signs of gastric ulcer recurrence following treatment. Your vet may prescribe further tests and periodic checkups to ensure the condition has not redeveloped.
By Lisa McQuerrey
About the Author
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.