What Are the Treatments for Canine Acid Reflux?

by Sarah Whitman, Demand Media
    Talk with your vet first about acid reflux.

    Talk with your vet first about acid reflux.

    Most of us know the discomfort of acid reflux -- in fact, a Norwegian study found a 50 percent increase of this condition since 2000. Unfortunately, dogs can also fall victim to it. Along with talking to your vet about treatments, there are some at-home options you can consider.

    What is Acid Reflux?

    Acid reflux is a disorder in which stomach acids recede into the esophagus, causing that familiar burning discomfort.
    Often, acid reflux and heartburn are interpreted as the same condition; however, acid reflux is the actual movement of the stomach acid into the esophagus, while heartburn is the uncomfortable result. This condition can, in part, be caused by dysfunction or weakening of the valve that separates the stomach and the esophagus.

    Contributing Factors

    Certain human indulgences, such as smoking and alcohol, can aggravate acid reflux. Unless your dog has been sneaking out for smokes and shots, you might cross those off the list -- although second-hand smoke might affect your dog just like anyone else.
    Other possible causes include peptic ulcers, hernias, asthma, pregnancy, large meals and insufficient digestive enzymes. Some of these, such as pregnancy and large meals, are thought to be potentially connected due to increased pressure on the stomach. Some foods aggravate it, too.

    How Can I Help My Dog?

    If you suspect your dog is suffering from acid reflux, it is important to visit your vet. Chronic acid in the esophagus can cause not only short-term burning and general discomfort, but longer-term esophageal scarring, which can cause erosion and even cancer.
    After you have talked with your doggy doctor, there are certain dietary adjustments and supplements you can offer at home to help decrease your dog's acid reflux and related heartburn.

    Trigger Foods

    Most of the common trigger foods are ones you wouldn't give your dog anyway. These include coffee, vinegar, garlic and pepper. There are also some vegetables that human acid-reflux sufferers complain about, reportedly due to their gassy results (and therefore possible increased pressure on the stomach). These include brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.

    Helpful Foods, Dietary Supplements and Other Adjustments

    Adding digestive enzymes to your dog's food is one option, along with feeding smaller, more frequent meals.
    Some potentially helpful foods include oatmeal, rice, apples and low-fat meats. If you add these to your dog's diet, do so slowly so he can adjust. The last thing you both need is more tummy upset. But long term, these are healthy additions to your dog's diet, so you will be helping him in more ways than one.

    About the Author

    Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.

    Photo Credits

    • Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images