Gastroenteritis in Dogs: Treating Tummy Troubles

Four Minutes
May 31, 2023

If your dog is vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, or showing other signs of tummy troubles, they could be suffering from gastroenteritis. But what causes this condition, and what are your options for treatment? Read on to learn more and see how pet insurance could help cover the costs of treatment for gastroenteritis in dogs.

Gastroenteritis in Dogs: Symptoms To Watch For

Gastroenteritis is a general diagnosis that refers to inflammation of the stomach and intestines. What it may look like varies from dog to dog, but VCA Animal Hospitals highlights frequent vomiting and diarrhea as two of the most common clinical symptoms.1 Of course, these aren’t rare behaviors, even for healthy dogs, so you should also be on the lookout for:

  • Dry heaving or gagging, especially after your dog has consumed food and water
  • Abdominal pain that causes your dog to resist being handled around the stomach and hindquarters
  • Yellow bile in their vomit, indicating an empty stomach
  • Decreased activity as your dog’s energy levels wane
  • Reduced appetite even when presented with their favorite foods
  • Signs of a fever, including shivering, panting, runny nose, and warm ears

Any one of these symptoms may be a good enough reason to bring your pooch to the vet for a checkup, but more than one could mean gastroenteritis. Either way, if you’re worried about your dog’s health, have a chat with your veterinarian. 

Is gastroenteritis in dogs fatal?

Gastroenteritis is a common condition dogs can experience. Fortunately, most dogs tend to recover from it within just a few days. Hydration is important, especially if your dog has frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea. The sooner you identify signs of gastroenteritis and begin treatment, the sooner your pup can recover.

What Causes Gastroenteritis in Dogs? 

Uncovering the cause of gastroenteritis can be challenging because viruses, parasites, allergic reactions, diabetes, and cancer could all cause inflammation of the stomach and intestines.1 Until our pups learn how to talk, figuring out the exact cause of their gastroenteritis requires some detective work from you and your vet.

When you bring your dog to the vet, they’ll want to eliminate other, more severe causes of inflammation first before giving a general gastroenteritis diagnosis. They’ll likely ask for your dog’s medical history, including details about their current diet and feeding schedule, what they ate and drank within the last 48 hours, if they’ve been exposed to new foods, environments, or people, and any recent medications or supplements they’ve been given.1

Armed with this information, your vet can begin a physical examination. Lab tests may also be recommended, including:1

  • Abdominal ultrasounds and X-rays to look for blockages or masses in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract
  • A complete blood cell count to identify potential infections
  • Urinalysis to look for signs of kidney disease, diabetes, and urinary tract infections
  • Blood serum tests to look for potential abnormalities in your dog’s organs

Once testing is complete and other causes are ruled out, your vet will prescribe the best treatment for your pup’s gastroenteritis.

Gastroenteritis in Dogs: Treatment Options

Diarrhea and vomiting can cause your pooch to lose lots of water, which poses the most immediate threat to their health. Because of that, your vet will likely focus on rehydration first. This could involve oral fluid replacement or something more intensive, such as an intravenous (IV) drip of electrolytes.1 It all depends on the severity of your dog’s condition.

During this time, your dog will likely be taken off solid foods for at least 12 hours, then slowly reintroduced. Your vet may recommend easily-digestible foods that are low in fat and fiber.1

If there’s an underlying cause for your dog’s gastroenteritis, your vet may prescribe other treatments. This could include antibiotics to treat a viral infection, medication to reduce vomiting and diarrhea, as well as medicines that can protect your dog from developing stomach ulcers.1

How Pet Insurance Can Help With Gastroenteritis Costs

Because gastroenteritis in dogs can have many causes, the cost of treatment can vary significantly.2 Mild cases that don’t require overnight stays or surgery may top out at $400. However, treatment for pups suffering from extreme dehydration and/or needing surgery to remove obstructions could cost you $3,000 or more without insurance.

Fortunately, dog insurance could help cover the cost of examination, testing, medication, and vet-prescribed foods.3 Get your free quote from MetLife Pet Insurance to find out what you could save on your pup’s road to recovery.

Are Expensive Vet Bills Giving You a Bellyache?


1 “Gastroenteritis in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

2 “Gastroenteritis in Dogs,” PetCoach

3 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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