DEAR DR. FOX: My dog was diagnosed with gastritis. What dog food is easily digested? Our vet suggested Hill's Prescription i/d. Do you have a recommendation? -- T.D., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR T.D.: "Gastritis" is a term describing a condition without an identifying cause -- part of the magic and obfuscation of medical terms derived principally from Latin nouns and adjectives. A costly endoscopic probe might confirm that there is inflammation and possibly erosion and ulceration of the lining of the stomach.
But what is the cause, and what are the signals or symptoms that lead to this diagnostic conclusion? Is the dog vomiting immediately after eating or some time after? Is there blood or yellowish bile in the vomit? Is your dog bloated and belching? It could be acid reflux, which treatment with an antacid should quickly resolve. It could be a gastric or intestinal bacterial or viral infection -- yes, dogs can show such symptoms with salmonella "food poisoning," or have a food allergy.
If there is bile being vomited, there could be a problem with the liver; other causes of vomiting can be associated with conditions such as pancreatic disease and kidney disease -- especially in older dogs.
Simply trying out a special and costly manufactured prescription diet like the one suggested by the veterinarian is one approach. If it works, then problem solved. But again, what is the cause? It could possibly be an ingredient in your dog's regular food or a contaminant or even jerky treats made in China. It is also quite possible that one or more ingredients in the prescription diet are also in your dog's regular food that is responsible for his gastric malady, such as soy, corn or wheat. For details, check out the book that I co-authored with two other veterinarians, "Not Fit for a Dog."
I would give him a regular human Tums antacid before meals and transition him to my home-prepared diet posted on my website DrFoxVet.com. If this dietary change does not improve his condition, then we can rule out diet as a possible factor and consider other possible causes.
Let me know the outcome.
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