acid reflux in dogs
Has your dog recently been diagnosed with acid reflux? Us humans know from our own experiences how unpleasant this can be.
In dogs, acid reflux can be chronic or symptomatic of an underlying medical condition requiring prescribed medications from your vet (check out our full fact sheet for more information on causes of acid reflux).
However, if like many dogs, your pet suffers a ‘mild’ case that occurs less regularly, or “hunger sickness” (vomiting bile with no other underlying cause), acid reflux may be managed successfully with careful nutrition and dietary changes. If this is an option for your pet, here is how these methods may help:
1. Feed a diet with reduced protein and fat levels.
Protein stimulates the secretion of the gastric acid, whilst fat decreases the strength of the muscle between the stomach and oesophagus. Our Adult Light Dog food meets these criteria.
2. Feed soft foods or kibble that has been soaked in water prior to serving.
The oesophagus may be sore and inflamed as a result of acid damage. Soft food also eases the initial workload of the digestive enzymes, which can be beneficial for any dog with a compromised digestion. Read more about the benefits of soaking your pet’s food. Our Partners Sensitive is a wet food that requires no soaking, and it is low in fat with a moderate protein level.
3. Review feeding times.
Smaller more frequent meals can be especially beneficial if a dog is vomiting bile as a result of having a very empty stomach. Large meals can exacerbate reflux because an overly full stomach places excessive pressure on the diaphragm, causing acid to travel upwards. Although an evening meal can be helpful in bridging the gap between teatime and breakfast, this meal should only be a small one because lying down can relax the oesophageal sphincter.
4. Address inappetence.
Irregular mealtimes can exacerbate reflux. Insufficient nutrition can also result in weight loss, constipation, loss of energy and dietary deficiencies. Your dog’s chosen diet will need to be highly palatable but be wary of very concentrated dry foods due to their typically higher fat content. Read more about inappetence here.
5. Feed a highly digestible, low residue diet.
A diet which is highly fibrous can exacerbate reflux, but dogs do need a moderate level of fibre. Diets such as Arden Grange that include beet pulp are a good option because they contain a good balance of soluble and insoluble fibre at a moderate level.
For a more in depth look at acid reflux including causes and treatments, check out our full fact sheet here.