Your pup isn’t a hot dog in a New York law firm. And he doesn’t furrow his brow over the evening news. But even without a full calendar and worries about world peace, dogs can still suffer from ulcers—small, painful sores in the lining of the stomach or small intestine.
Ulcers in dogs can develop when your pet is taking aspirin for long-term conditions, like arthritis. Kidney or liver problems can also cause dog ulcers, as can noshing on irritating snacks, like pennies, which can be toxic.
While curing an ulcer frequently requires help from a veterinarian, there are things you can do to keep your dog ulcer free.
Don’t trust his appetite
Almost all dogs will chew—and perhaps swallow—just about anything that catches their interest. Be sure not to leave batteries, pennies or other potentially harmful articles where they can get them. If you see your pup swallow something he shouldn’t and you even suspect it might be dangerous, call your vet right away.
Provide plenty of toys
Sometimes a dog stomach ulcer will be started by the ingestion of rough material, such as wood and bone. Giving your pet safe, chewable toys, like rubber bones, will help keep his adventurous appetite under control.
Be cautious with painkillers
Just as over-the-counter analgesics like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can cause ulcers in people, they are a major cause of stomach ulcers in dogs as well. A dose that’s right for a human could be dangerous for your pup, particularly when it is given for long periods of time. So check with your veterinarian before starting any treatment plan.
If your vet has recommended that you give your dog aspirin, always give it with food so it won’t directly irritate the stomach lining. Also keep in mind that aspirin is very acidic, so look for a buffered brand, which is easier on the stomach.
Aim for a stress-free life
While emotional stress doesn’t appear to be a major cause of a dog’s ulcers, it may play a role. To help keep your pup healthy and relaxed, make sure to include plenty of playtime and exercise in his life.
Having another pet at home, be it a dog or a cat, will give your friend someone to play with–and keep him happy and less prone to getting an upset stomach.
Dogs and stomach ulcers: When to see the vet
While some ulcers will heal on their own, others can result in dangerous internal bleeding. Symptoms to watch for include blood in the stool or vomit or vomit that looks like it has been mixed with coffee grounds. Get to your vet as soon as you notice symptoms. In most cases, ulcers can be treated with prescription drugs like cimetidine (Tagamet) and sucralfate (Carafate), which help reduce the amount of irritating acid in the stomach.
Don’t take chances if you see your dog contentedly swallowing a battery, coin or other nonfood delectable. Call your vet right away.