Can a dog survive a stomach ulcer?

Answered by Michael Wilson

A dog can survive a stomach ulcer, but it depends on several factors including the severity of the ulcer, timely diagnosis, and appropriate treatment. Stomach ulcers in dogs can range from mild to severe, and while mild cases may resolve on their own with proper management, severe cases can be life-threatening if left untreated.

When a dog develops a stomach ulcer, the lining of the stomach becomes damaged, leading to the formation of open sores. These ulcers can be caused by various factors such as long-term use of certain medications (such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), ingestion of foreign objects, infections, or underlying diseases like kidney or liver failure. Stress and high levels of gastric acid can also contribute to the development of ulcers in some cases.

The symptoms of a stomach ulcer in dogs can vary depending on the severity and location of the ulcer. Mild cases may present with mild discomfort, decreased appetite, and occasional vomiting. However, as the ulcer progresses and becomes more severe, the symptoms become more pronounced. Dogs with severe stomach ulcers often show signs of severe weakness, anemia (pale gums), abdominal pain, and may vomit blood or have dark, tarry stools (indicating the presence of digested blood).

If a stomach ulcer goes untreated, it can lead to complications such as perforation, where the ulcer penetrates through the stomach wall, causing leakage of stomach contents into the abdominal cavity. This can result in peritonitis, which is inflammation and infection of the lining of the abdomen. Perforation and subsequent peritonitis are serious conditions that can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening systemic infection. Pets with perforated stomach ulcers often present with severe pain, distended abdomen, and signs of shock such as rapid heart rate, pale gums, and weak pulses. Without prompt medical intervention, these cases can quickly become fatal.

To diagnose a stomach ulcer, a veterinarian will typically perform a thorough physical examination and may recommend additional tests such as bloodwork, fecal examination, abdominal X-rays, or ultrasound. Endoscopy, which involves passing a flexible tube with a camera into the stomach, may also be necessary to visualize the ulcers directly.

Treatment for a stomach ulcer in dogs involves addressing the underlying cause, if possible, and providing supportive care. This may include discontinuing medications that could be contributing to the ulcer, treating any underlying diseases, and providing medications to reduce gastric acid production and protect the stomach lining. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair the perforation or remove any foreign objects that may be causing the ulcer.

During the treatment process, it is crucial to closely monitor the dog’s progress and provide appropriate pain management. In some cases, hospitalization may be required to ensure proper administration of medications and close monitoring of vital signs. Nutritional support may also be necessary, as some dogs with stomach ulcers may have decreased appetite or difficulty eating.

With timely and appropriate treatment, many dogs can recover from stomach ulcers. However, it is important to note that the prognosis depends on the severity of the ulcer, the presence of complications such as perforation, and the overall health of the dog. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to the individual dog’s needs.

While stomach ulcers in dogs can be serious and potentially life-threatening if left untreated, with prompt veterinary care and appropriate treatment, many dogs can survive and recover from this condition. Timely diagnosis, addressing the underlying cause, and providing supportive care are key factors in the successful management of stomach ulcers in dogs.