Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Nov 17, 2020

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Gastroenteritis is when your dog’s gastrointestinal tract is inflamed in and around the stomach and intestines.

Gastroenteritis usually causes abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhea and/or vomiting in your dog.

Various microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria can cause gastroenteritis in dogs.

However, one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis in dogs is a viral infection, which can be complicated with bacteria or parasites.

Mild cases of gastroenteritis can be resolved with hydration and antibiotic therapy, but more severe cases require hospitalization.

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Common Symptoms

vet examining dog for gastroenteritis

Some of the symptoms that are common in dogs with gastroenteritis

  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Diarrhea (sometimes with blood) – sometimes 3 to 6 times a day
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Less active
  • Low-grade fever

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

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What Causes Gastroenteritis?

There are many different causes of gastroenteritis but they are generally caused by a bacteria or an infection:

  • Viral infection (e.g. parvoviruses and coronaviruses)
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Toxins
  • Tumors
  • Bacterial infection
  • Parasitic infection
  • Abdominal disorder
  • Foreign bodies or other obstructions
  • Poisonings
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Addison’s disease
  • Thyroid disease

Diagnosis

Gastroenteritis is usually diagnosed by the exclusion of other diseases.

Your vet will try to rule out the more serious causes that might have caused the symptoms of such as vomiting or diarrhea before they can diagnose the disease as gastroenteritis.

Your vet will first try to determine why your dog had any of the signs pointing to gastroenteritis.

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Some important information that your vet will want to know about your dog:

  • Your dog’s diet, how much your dog eats and how often
  • Any supplements that have been given
  • All illnesses in the last month
  • Every food and drink that your dog has consumed within the last 48 hours
  • Any exposure to pesticides, cleaning agents, medications
  • Any new treats
  • Exposure to a new dog or even a person
  • Your dog’s history of vomiting and diarrhea and how it was treated

Now that your vet has your dog’s medical history, your vet will conduct a physical examination of your dog.

Your vet will determine if your dog has had abdominal pain, bloating, gas or any other swellings.  Your dog’s temperature and vital signs will also be taken.

Depending on your vet’s findings, further testing might be recommended:

  • Urinalysis: testing for kidney disease, urinary tract infection, glucose levels, diabetes, and dehydration.
  • A complete blood cell count (CBC):  to look for dehydration and infection.
  • Radiographs and Ultrasounds of the abdomen: to see if there is a gastric or intestinal obstruction or any other abnormality.
  • Serum electrolytes: to detect organ system abnormalities and/or any electrolyte imbalances as a result of diarrhea and vomiting.

After the diagnostic tests are finished and it is determined that gastroenteritis is the actual disease, treatment will be prescribed.

Treatment Options

Viral gastroenteritis is treated with supportive care because there are no available drugs to kill this type of viruses.

The first step of the treatment plan is restoring your dog’s normal fluid balance.

The idea is to re-hydrate your dog and restore your pup’s electrolyte balance.

Fluid therapy can be given orally if the dog is not vomiting.  If your dog is vomiting, he or she will need to receive the therapy intravenously and is usually hospitalized.

Your dog’s veterinarian will need to run various diagnostic tests in order to determine which other drugs are needed such as:

Antibiotics will be given if there is a bacterial infection.

An anti-diarrheal might be administered after anatomical issues or any obstructions have been ruled out.

Food and even water might be limited during the start of the treatment and then later slowly re-introduced.  This is very common with any vomiting or diarrhea.

Your vet will recommend the best diet for your dog during treatment.

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Can Pet Insurance Help with Gastroenteritis?

If you have already enrolled your dog in pet insurance, then you will be reimbursed up to 90% of the costs of all the testing and treatment.

The usual cost of treatment, depending on your vet’s findings can range from $500 to $1,500.

Of course, if you haven’t enrolled your dog in a pet insurance policy and your pup has already exhibited symptoms of gastroenteritis, then it will not be covered in the future should you decide to sign up for a policy.

As always, sign up for your dog while he or she is young and before any health issues have occurred.

Prognosis of Gastroenteritis

Most cases of gastroenteritis will improve greatly after re-hydrating your dog.

If the diarrhea and vomiting do not improve, then the diagnosis will need to be re-evaluated.

Gastroenteritis is a common health condition in dogs.  The earlier you recognize the signs and treat your pup, the sooner your dog will feel better and get back to a normal condition.

If you think your dog doesn’t have gastroenteritis, but another health issue, our dog health glossary has a list of all the common issues that might occur in your dog.

Other articles you may find helpful: 

Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ’s, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds

CAT FAQ’s

Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds

 

We get it, your dog is like your child and when your puppy or dog has health problems it is scary. Luckily there is pet insurance companies that will help you pay for any veterinarian care they made need. Checkout the best puppy and dog pet insurance companies and learn about common puppy health issues and ailments in older pets

 

Common Health Problems:

Acral Lick Granuloma in Dogs

Alopecia in Dogs

Antifreeze Toxicity in Dogs

Aortic Stenosis in Dogs

Arthritis In Dogs

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Boxer Cardiomyopathy

Cataracts In Dogs

Cherry Eye in Dogs

Chronic Active Hepatitis in Dogs

Collie Eye Anomaly In Dogs

Constipation in Dogs

Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs

Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Degenerative Myelopathy | Spinal Cord Disease In Dogs

Dementia in Dogs | Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Demodicosis In Dogs

Dental Problems in Dogs

Diabetes In Dogs

Dog Comedones (Schnauzer Bumps)

Dog Diarrhea: What Can You Do To Help?

Dog Ear Infections

Dystocia in Dogs

Ectropion in Dogs

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Entropion In Dogs

Eye Problems in Dogs

Fleas in Dogs

Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

Gallstones in Dogs

Gastroenteritis In Dogs

Glaucoma in Dogs

Heart Murmurs In Dogs | How To Identify Them

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hot Spots On Dogs

Hyperparathyroidism In Dogs

Hypothyroidism In Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease In Dogs

Nasal Solar Dermatitis In Dogs

Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Progressive Retinal Atrophy In Dogs

Renal Failure in Dogs

Seizures in Dogs

Wobbler Syndrome In Dogs

The Dog Flu – Symptoms & Treatment for Canine Influenza

Dog Biting Nails