Dog with ongoing gastric issues - throws up anything lumpy

alan_s_thefirstJuly 30, 2010

Our Labradoodle (American type, Standard Poodle/Lab cross) has had some severe gastric issues since she was spayed at 6 months or whenever it's done.

When we brought her home, every time she ate, she would want to go out, went in frantic circles and threw up...repeatedly.

We brought her back to the vet and eventually they did an endoscopy, and said her esophagus was severely inflamed. The vet theorised that the anesthetic had put her too far under and she'd had reflux come up and burn her esophagus. They prescribed various antacids which didn't seem to help too much, we went from kibble to a wet food from the vet, which also didn't help. They pretty much gave up on her so we were stuck with trying to find something she could keep down.

It came down to giving her rice with chicken broth and protein powder, but she was unable to gain weight, a concern at her age.

I'd lived in Australia where raw diets are common and popular - even with vets, who seem to spout the same negative comments about it verbatim here in North America.

Figuring we had nothing to lose, we also bought 'Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats' which seemed to be a comprehensive guide to a species-appropriate natural raw diet.

She's done very well on it and her symptoms disappeared (terrible gas, occasional diarrhea etc and things were pretty much back to normal - all the vets (we changed vet clinics after their apparent indifference) commented on how healthy she was, and we could see she was happy and thriving on it.

Thing is, all we're really doing is managing her diet - if she eats anything too lumpy, along comes the circles, the panic, the heaving and repeated vomiting. Usually it doesn't last long, and it's caused by her chewing on something or a carrot piece that's too big or something....she can be fine for months.

We're currently minding our neighbour's puppy who is on a kibble diet. He's tiny and gets a half a cup at a time, but our dog managed to help herself to a small amount and the heaving, puffing and panicked circles started again, worse than usual. The next morning, she started her breakfast and had the same problems. We had to let her fast (she does fast one day a week as part of her diet, and, whilst she doesn't like it, it seems to work for her) and came up with the idea of a little pepto-bismol as well (money for the vet is really tight at the moment and no vet's ever had an answer for it, except maybe a barium meal/x-ray, which would be very expensive.)

She seems a lot better today and we've been feeding her a couple of spoonfuls at a time, which she seems to be coping with. She is a scarfer when she eats so multiple feeds may be a good idea, but I'd really like to try and fix this for her, she's a lovely dog who doesn't deserve to suffer like this....rather than just manage the symptoms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats

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Sorry to hear about your pup. If this was caused by the spay procedure shouldn't the Vet be somehow responsible and be willing to help with this issue?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 10:23PM
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Well, in a sense you would - but I don't know if it was CAUSED by the procedure...probably the anesthetic. Did they give her too much? We don't know. The vet didn't charge us much for the endo, a lot less than they could have, but he pretty much then said that was all he could do.

Given that attitude, why would we persist with him? We changed vets, but they didn't have too many theories either.

You'd think a dog would begin to associate kibble with pain and discomfort, but she got into the other dog's kibble AGAIN last night, not as bad this time. We're feeding her a couple of mouthfuls at a time today, and she's coping all right. Might give her more pepto.

I don't know what else to do. I don't think she's suffering outside of these episodes, and she's enriched our family's and our lives so much...and we've made friends with a lot of people we wouldn't otherwise have.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 2:08PM
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When the food comes up, does she have a series of abdominal contractions maybe with some drooling followed by the vomiting of food? Or does she just bring up food without warning? Those are *very* important distinctions, because actual vomiting with abdominal contractions rules OUT an esophagus problem, while regurgitation (just bringing up stuff without warning) is ALWAYS an esophagus problem. You are looking at an entirely different set of problems depending on whether she is vomiting vs regurgitating. Bad gas and diarrhea speak to the lower GI tract, not the esophagus, and sound to me more like food allergies, IBD, or GI cancer (although not likely due to age).

If she is truly vomiting, then "fixing" an esophagus problem won't help and I'd be looking into a laparotomy to determine cause of chronic vomiting. If she is regurgitating, then a contrast radiograph (barium) or fluroscopy may show the problem, although if she has megaesophagus then you are pretty much already doing all you can.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 10:33PM
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Thanks for your post, Meghane. It's been the worst it's ever been, these past few days, all from less than a quarter of a cup of kibble. Usually she gets over it within a few hours of eating the wrong thing and that's it. As I said we're managing it by what we feed her.

Excellent point regarding the heaving or not. She definitely gets the abdominal contractions...she has the typical barrow poodle waist and you can see it quite clearly. She doesn't usually drool at this time, but she hates going in the car and drools excessively when she does, and at times has vomited. I've wondered if there's a connection there to a 'bad stomach' generally.

She can eat her breakfast now, but she hurries away from the bowl, heads outside then back again. She's not heaving and she's keeping it down, but obviously there's some discomfort, or she's convinced herself she needs to- she definitely gets overwrought. One time she had been throwing up so much (a lamb bone with too much cartilage) she could barely stand and I was able to get her past the spasms by talking to her and soothing her.

It would be tempting to say food allergy except many things can bring it on - kibble especially, any brand, but she's gotten it from chewing wood or bones, if she's able to get any large chunks off them. A good marrowbone from the middle of the bone, with no cartilage is fine, so it comes back to texture and size of the pieces. Her raw diet is ground/chopped so it's a paste, basically. She is usually okay with some chunks, say of carrot, but then at other times, not. It really seems "mechanical" in that sense.

The original vet did an Endoscopy when the problem first happened and found severe inflammation but nothing else. Close to that time I did find a clothespeg she'd chewed but no sign of the spring. I've always wondered about that but she's asymptomatic for many months at times and seems fit and happy.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 2:27AM
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She ate her breakfast a bit at a time again, then went to the neighbours' place to play with their dog and vomited again, this time it was a bit bloody. So Tuesday it's back to the vet (earliest available unless we take her to the emergency vet) and hopefully we can get some answers.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 5:12PM
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Wow, poor thing! I'd be pushing for an exploratory surgery to see what is going on, get biopsies, or fix whatever the problem is. Hopefully easily fixable. Please keep us posted.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 6:05PM
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Thanks. Unfortunately surgery etc is probably out of the question for us at the moment, we simply can't afford it. I am only getting limited working hours,and my wife, a teacher, won't get paid again til September - we only have a limited amount put by.

On the other hand, I really want to get to the bottom of this.

She seemed a bit subdued after she was sick this morning - bloody streaks, as opposed to sicking up blood as I say, but she seemed fine after and has been playing with our nieces and nephew and having a good time.

In one way, it would be "interesting" to go back to the Vets who performed the Spay operation, but that was 4 years ago and I don't know whether there's any relevance or not now.

My latest thought is ulcers. I wonder.

I also wonder if we should feed her tomorrow.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 7:41PM
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The other thing that seems odd - I don't know if this is normal or not - but when she vomited with the bloody streak, the whole thing appeared to be covered in a thick, mucousy "skin" - really odd. Normally when she throws up like this, it's very frothy.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 3:07AM
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I have no advice to offer but want to say that I hope you an get this resolved soon.I've been following this thread as I have 2 dogs that have stomach issues sometimes but have been doing well for a year/half.Both suffers from acid reflux at times.Can you feed her soft food like chicken/rice for now?One of my dogs have flareups with the inflamed throat area to,antibiotics usually take care of it.She has gingivitis and her mouth/gums give her trouble.Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:34AM
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Thanks for your thoughts. We have fed her rice, until we put her on the raw diet, all we could give her was chicken broth, rice and protein powder. The diet we follow for her excludes all grains including rice, but it does seem to work for them.

The food she gets is soft enough, it's pureed/minced up. I didn't know dogs got gingivitis, is she older? As long as our dog can't pull chunks off a bone (we get sawn trimmed ones) they keep her teeth in good shape.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 11:28PM
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We saw a vet who's UK trained so we didn't get the half-hour Purina lecture on the evils of raw food. He actually had more ideas about what to do and what to look at than any of the other vets we've seen so far, which was encouraging.

We of course discussed biopsies etc but he also had the good idea of looking at bacterial causes, going back over her paperwork I don't think she's ever had antibiotics that might have made a difference if she has an ulcer, for example.

Trying that sort of treatment first seems to make sense, it's cheaper to start, less invasive and it'll eliminate some possibilities before we look at surgery or scoping.

We're doing fecal cytology first, and, depending on the results, we'll look at a course of antibiotics - I think he was thinking Erithromycin.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 4:51PM
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Don't know if you have heard of it or if it is available in your area of the country but there is a company called Care Credit where you can borrow money for vet, dental, vision, etc. services and it is no interest if you stick to a one year, 18 month plan and pay it off in said time. I'm sure you can look it up online. Hope you get some results for your pet; they are so much like family!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 12:32AM
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Can't remember exactly what he was looking for in the Cytology but they called and said it was negative, so we'll be looking at the antibiotic course next...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 11:29AM
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Ulcer treatment is pretty inexpensive- some amoxicillin, metronidazole, and sucrulfate, and an OTC antacid. But I doubt it's been an ulcer for 4 years, or that it has anything to do with the spay but weirder things can happen. Most of the stuff I can think of that would be a spay complication would be fatal by now. But I'm sure I haven't thought of everything.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 11:55AM
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