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Chronic Gastritis in Dogs

What Is Chronic Gastritis in Dogs?

A diagnosis of chronic gastritis generally applies to a dog that has been vomiting regularly over a long period of time, often vomiting once or twice per day for 7-14 days consistently.   

Dogs with chronic gastritis typically have an underlying illness and may have symptoms beyond simple vomiting. The major distinction is the length of the condition, which generally distinguishes chronic gastritis from an upset stomach due to something the dog may have eaten. 

There are four types of gastritis in dogs:  

Acute gastritis: a form of gastritis where the stomach is suddenly irritated and inflamed. This type often resolves without medical intervention. 

Atrophic gastritis: a rare, long-term, chronic condition in which the glands of the stomach are reduced in size or number. 

Chronic hypertrophic gastritis: a thickening of some of the tissues within the stomach, typically also a long-term chronic condition. 

Chronic eosinophilic gastritis: involving an abnormal number of a certain type of white blood cells in the tissues of the stomach. 

Symptoms of Chronic Gastritis in Dogs

Dogs with chronic gastritis will show a variety of symptoms, including the following: 

Abdominal pain and cramping 



Bleeding from the intestinal tract (often seen as either black tarry stool or vomit that resembles coffee grounds) 



Weight loss 

Poor hair coat 


Electrolyte imbalance (which would cause weakness, imbalance) 

Causes of Chronic Gastritis in Dogs

Chronic gastritis is more commonly seen in cats than dogs. However, there are many reasons a dog may develop chronic gastritis: 

Food or medication: chronic gastritis may be related to something the dog is eating on a regular basis, or due to a medication or supplement. 

Illness: chronic gastritis can be related to other conditions, including systemic diseases (such as kidney or liver disease) or infections. 

Immune disorder: although less common, atrophic gastritis develops secondary to an immune disorder. This is commonly seen in the Norwegian Lundehund breed. 

Congenital disorder: the underlying cause for chronic hypertrophic gastritis is unknown, but it is thought to be a congenital disorder linked to release of histamines (biologically active substances found in the environment). Older, small-breed dogs are more prone to this condition, and it is more common in male dogs. 

Food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, parasites, and hypereosinophilic syndrome (a blood disorder): this type of chronic gastritis is most common in dogs under 5 years of age, and predisposed breeds are German shepherds, Rottweilers, and Shar-peis. 

How Veterinarians Diagnose Chronic Gastritis in Dogs

Most often, the diagnosis of chronic gastritis in dogs involves multiple stages and steps, and it is important to remember that the definitive diagnosis is often reached only after significant testing. 

Your vet may want to begin with some lab tests, including blood work (usually a complete blood count and a biochemistry profile) and fecal testing. Often, at this stage, food and medical trials are recommended.  

If the vomiting does not resolve, more advanced testing is often recommended, including endoscopy (passing a camera down the esophagus into the stomach and upper intestinal tract) and a biopsy.  

These tests will give the vet a better view of what is happening at the level of the problem (usually the stomach) and to sample the tissue for more information. Occasionally, more diagnostics are required to reach a diagnosis.

Treatment of Chronic Gastritis in Dogs

Treatment of chronic gastritis usually depends on the underlying cause. Typically, a special diet is used, which may involve a prescription product designed specifically for dogs with inflammation in their stomach. Occasionally, a homemade bland diet might be appropriate, but this should be used at the discretion of your veterinarian. 

Most of the time, a medication will be prescribed to try to reduce the vomiting. This may include an antiemetic/antinausea medication and/or an acid reducer. Depending on the diagnosis, a different anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed.

Recovery and Prevention of Chronic Gastritis in Dogs

In some dogs, the treatments mentioned above may provide a cure, but other dogs will need lifelong therapy to control their symptoms. 

There is no true prevention for chronic gastritis other than to feed your dog high-quality food, ensure your dog is appropriately dewormed, and maintain a consistent and healthy diet based on their needs. 

Chronic Gastritis in Dogs FAQs

How long does chronic gastritis last in dogs?

Chronic gastritis, by definition, is vomiting regularly (usually daily) for at least 7-14 days. Most dogs with chronic gastritis do have a long-term problem with vomiting.

What can I feed my dog with chronic gastritis?

Your vet will be able to advise you on the best food to feed your dog, once the cause of the chronic gastritis has been diagnosed. Most dogs will be treated with a prescription product, although some can be fed a homemade bland diet for a short period.

What is the life expectancy of a dog with chronic gastritis?

If the condition is properly diagnosed and treated, most dogs with chronic gastritis have a normal life expectancy.

Can stress cause chronic gastritis in dogs?

Dogs generally do not experience “stress” like people do, but an anxious dog is more likely to experience gastric upsets—which could, with time, become a component of chronic gastritis. However, this is the exception rather than the rule.

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Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP


Sandra Mitchell is a 1995 graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in many fields…

Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract in Dogs

Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Renal, Bladder and Urethra in Dogs

Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) is a malignant (aggressive)  and metastasizing (spreading) cancer arising from the transitional epithelium – the highly stretchable lining of the urinary tract system – of the kidney, ureters (the tubes that carry fluid from the kidneys to the bladder), urinary bladder, urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside), prostate, or vagina.

Flea-control products (organophosphates and carbamate) and cyclophosphamide are possible causal agents in dogs. In addition, TCC occurs most commonly in female dogs.

Symptoms and Types

Straining to urinateFrequent urination of small amounts (pollakiuria)Blood in urine (hematuria)Difficulty urinating (dysuria)Wetting on the floor, furniture, bed, etc. (urinary incontinence)



Flea-control products (organophosphates and carbamate) and cyclophosphamide



Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. You will need to provide a thorough history of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. Urine should also be sent for culture and sensitivity testing since a concurrent urinary tract infection is common.

X-rays of the chest and abdomen should be taken to look for possible spread of the cancer. Intravenous pyelography, a procedure that is used to take an X-ray image of the urinary system, will be used to examine the urinary tract, bladder and kidneys. For this procedure, a contrasting dye will be injected into the bloodstream, to be picked up by the kidneys and passed through through the ureters, bladder and urethra. The contrasting dye is visible on the X-ray imaging so that the internal structures can be seen and determined to be functioning normally or abnormally. Other contrast dye procedures that can be used to image the urinary tract may be used, either instead of, or in addition to, a pyelography. They include a  voiding urethrogram (x-rays of dyes as the patient urinates), or vaginogram (X-rays of dyes within the vagina). These latter X-ray techniques are indicated if urethral or vaginal disease is suspected. Double-contrast cystography is the best way to visualize the mass(es) which are normally located at the trigone of the urinary bladder (a smooth triangular area inside the bladder).

For a definitive diagnosis, a biopsy of the mass is the gold standard. Biopsies may be obtained through traumatic catheterization (jamming a catheter into the masses), exploratory laparotomy (abdominal surgery), or cystoscopy (using a small camera with instruments attached). However, ultrasound-guided biopsy is not recommended, because this can easily cause further spreading of the cancer.


TCC spreads very easily. There have been multiple reports of surgery causing the cancer spread. Tube placement into the bladder (through the urethra) may greatly prolong survival times by preventing urethral blockage. Radiotherapy (ionizing radiation, like the type X-rays give off) given during surgery is reported to result in longer survival times and better local control than chemotherapy. The potential side effects of radiotherapy during surgery are urinary bladder stricture and fibrosis with urinary incontinence.

Antibiotics based on the culture and sensitivity results should be prescribed to resolve any concurrent urinary tract infections.

Living and Management

TCC tumors cannot usually be surgically removed in dogs. While a cure is not attainable, the severity and speed of spread of TCC disease can be slowed down and delayed. Your veterinarian will schedule your dog for a contrast cystography or ultrasonography every six to eight weeks to see if treatment is effective and to screen for lymph node spread of TCC. Similarly, chest X-rays should be retaken every two to three months to detect any new cancer spread.

Urine Crystals in Dogs

What Are Urine Crystals in Dogs?

While there are many conditions that can cause changes in urination frequency or urine color, urine crystals are one of the more common causes. Occasionally, crystals are present in a dog’s urine without causing any symptoms at all. 

Anytime a dog eats and drinks, nutrients are absorbed and waste products need to be eliminated. Some waste products are broken down and eliminated through stool, while others are eliminated in urine. Urine is made by the kidneys filtering the blood and removing salts, waste products, and water—together, these make up urine. The urine passes from the kidneys through tiny tubes, called ureters, to the bladder. It is then stored in the bladder until it’s time to pee. It then travels out another tube, the urethra, to leave the body.

Normal urine is a balance of water, minerals, acids, and protein breakdown products such as urea. This balance is important. If there is too much of a particular mineral, it will precipitate out into a solid.

Sometimes enough urine crystals form that they clump together and form a sand-like sediment. This sediment can make urination very uncomfortable. It can continue to accumulate until actual bladder stones are formed. They look like pebbles inside the urinary bladder and can lead to extreme discomfort.

As long as your dog is able to urinate and has a good stream of urine, crystals can be addressed over time, often with nutritional management. If at any time, your dog is straining to urinate or not able to urinate, this is considered a medical emergency. Untreated urinary blockages can lead to kidney failure and death when not immediately addressed.

What Do Crystals in Dog Urine Look Like?

Crystals are typically not visible to the naked eye. Pet parents are more likely to notice their dog urinating more frequently, seeming to take longer when urinating, only urinating small amounts, or having blood in their urine. Crystals can only be seen under a microscope. Some look like clear, square or rectangular gemstones, while others look more like crystal fireworks or hexagons.

Occasionally, a dog will have enough crystals that they clump together and make a sandy grit or sediment that can be observed in the urine.

Types of Urine Crystals in Dogs

Calcium oxalate crystals: This crystal type is one of the most common in dogs. Certain breeds are more genetically predisposed to forming this type of crystal, including Pomeranians, Miniature Schnauzers, Bichon Frise, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, and Miniature Poodles.

Struvite crystals: Another common type, this crystal usually occurs in conjunction with a urinary tract infection (UTI). They are seen more often in younger female dogs, with Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzus and Bichon Frises being more commonly affected.

Ammonium urate crystals: These crystals occur more often in dogs that have liver shunts or a genetic mutation. The Miniature Schnauzer, West Highland White, Yorkshire Terrier, and Pekingese breeds are more likely to get this type of crystal due to liver shunts.

Cystine crystals: This is a rare crystal type. Like urate crystals, cystine crystals are radiolucent, meaning they form into bladder stones and are not visible on X-rays. These crystals develop in dogs that have inherited an issue with their kidneys so that they are unable to reabsorb the cysteine amino acid like normal. This crystal type is often found in Labradors and Newfoundlands.

Symptoms of Urine Crystals in Dogs

Frequent urination

Increased drinking

Straining or discomfort when urinating

Blood in urine

Urinary accidents in the house

Discolored urine 

Causes of Urine Crystals in Dogs

Urinary crystals form in a dog’s bladder when the urine becomes supersaturated with minerals and the pH and concentration favors crystallization. Minerals become supersaturated in the urine due to a combination of genetics, nutrition, and underlying medical conditions.

Genetics are involved in crystal formation. Some dogs are more prone to crystal formation than others, based on how their kidneys break down compounds. 

Nutrition plays a large role in both formation of crystals and treatment/management of urine crystals. Two dogs in the same household may eat the same food, but only one develops urine crystals. This is because the dog has a genetic predisposition to an overabundance of minerals.

Underlying medical conditions can also play a big role in crystal formation in the urine. Urinary tract infections can alter the pH, or acidity, in the bladder as well as cause inflammation and debris to form inside the urinary bladder.

Other medical issues, like high levels of calcium in the blood, can also lead to crystal formation. High levels of calcium in the blood can be caused by other conditions including kidney disease, parathyroid disease, Addison’s disease, and some cancers.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Urine Crystals in Dogs

Urine crystals are diagnosed by a veterinarian while examining dog urine under a microscope. If your dog is having issues with abnormal urination, your vet will likely ask you to bring a urine sample into the clinic. The best time to try to catch this urine sample is first thing in the morning. The first morning urine will likely be the most concentrated sample, since your dog has held their bladder all night while sleeping.

To collect your dog’s urine, use a shallow plastic container or soup ladle and slip it under their urine stream while they’re urinating. Your vet will prefer as fresh a urine sample as possible, so ideally, bring a urine sample gathered the same day. If there will be time between when you catch the urine and when you bring it into the veterinary office, store it in the refrigerator until you can bring it in. Once a veterinarian has a urine sample, they will run a complete urinalysis.

Treatment of Urine Crystals in Dogs

Urine crystals are typically managed with some component of nutrition therapy. Sometimes your veterinarian may recommend that you switch your dog’s current diet to an over-the-counter food, but often a prescription diet is recommended. Your veterinarian may prescribe a diet to dissolve crystals or recommend one that has a target pH and mineral composition aimed at minimizing future crystal formation.

Common prescription dissolution urinary diets for struvite crystals include:

Hills Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care

Royal Canin®/MD Urinary SO

Purina® Pro Plan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary Ox/St

Other prescription urinary diets more commonly used for different crystal types include Hills u/d and Royal Canin®/MD UC. 

In some cases, diet therapy is not possible or a veterinarian recommends the addition of oral medications. The medications more commonly prescribed for urine crystals are:

Potassium citrate: helps reduce the formation of calcium oxalate stones by binding calcium rather than leaving it free to precipitate out into crystals

Hydrochlorothiazide: works to minimize calcium oxalate stone formation by decreasing the amount of calcium excreted in urine

DL-methionine: acidifies the urine, helping to dissolve struvites and prevent their formation

Tiopronin: works to bind extra cysteine in the urine and allow it to be eliminated safely

Allopurinol: decreases the production of uric acid to decrease formation of ammonium urate crystals

If a urinary tract infection is also present, such as in the case of struvite crystals, your veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotics. Often it is recommended that your veterinarian take a culture to help determine the type of bacteria growing in their urinary tract and which antibiotic can best clear the infection. It is important that you follow the instructions on the antibiotic and give it until it is gone.

Recovery and Management of Urine Crystals in Dogs

Recovery from urine crystals varies on the type of crystal and the individual dog. Some crystal types, like struvite, can be treated and eliminated by curing the urinary tract infection and feeding a recommended diet. UTIs are often treated quickly with antibiotic courses lasting anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks. It is not uncommon, however, for prescription diets to be recommended for the rest of your dog’s life.

Other crystal types may be more challenging to eliminate if a dog has a hereditary predisposition to forming that crystal type. If an underlying medical condition, like hypercalcemia or liver shunts, is present, it is important to manage the medical condition to reduce future formation of crystals.

It is very common for crystals to reoccur in the urine. If a prescription diet is recommended, talk to your veterinarian before taking your pet off that diet. Additionally, if you discontinue the prescription food, rechecking their urine periodically after transitioning to a new diet will help determine if the problem is returning.

While your dog is recovering from urine crystals, watch their urine output daily. If you notice any increase in frequency of urination, straining to urinate, or blood/discoloration to the urine, bring a sample to your veterinarian immediately.

Urine Crystals in Dogs FAQs

Are crystals in dog urine dangerous?

Crystals alone are not usually dangerous when present in dog’s urine. However, if the crystals clump together and form sediment, this can lead to urinary blockage, which is dangerous.

What food causes crystals in dog urine?

While nutrition plays a big role in crystal formation, there are no specific brands or types of food that cause the problem. Different diets affect dogs in different ways, depending on their genetics and the pH of their urine. If your dog has crystals in their urine, your veterinarian will likely recommend a diet change; however, other dogs in the same household may not have the same problem. Discuss any diet changes with your veterinarian before moving forward.

How are crystals in dog urine treated?

The majority of crystals in dog’s urine are treated with nutrition therapy, most often with a prescription diet. Sometimes, oral medications will be prescribed to aid in dissolving crystals.


Byron, J. DVM360. Crystals, stones, and diets (Proceedings). 2011.

Erikson, T. DVM360. Urolithiasis and the impact of nutritional management. 2021.

Minnesota Urolith Center, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

Palma, D., et al. Compendium. Canine Struvite Urolithiasis. 2013.

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Melissa Boldan, DVM


Dr. Melissa Boldan graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. She initially practiced mixed animal…

Narrowed Bronchi in Dogs

Bronchiectasis in Dogs

The trachea, or wind pipe, divides into two main bronchi, which further divide several more times into smaller bronchioles, forming the bronchial tree that feeds air into the lungs.

In bronchiectasis, bronchi are irreversibly dilated due to destruction of elastic and muscular components of airway walls, with or without accompanying accumulation of lung secretions. Dilatation and accumulation of secretions perpetuates lung damage, invite infections to settle, and compromise the lung functions in patient. American cocker spaniels, West Highland white terriers, miniature poodles, Siberian huskies, and English springer spaniels are predisposed to this condition. Bronchiectasis can occur at any age but commonly seen middle-aged or older dogs which chronic lung disease.

Symptoms and Types

Chronic cough (moist and productive) Hemoptysis (coughing up blood) in some dogs Intermittent fever Lethargy Exercise or work intolerance Rapid breathing Difficulty in breathing normally, especially after exercise Chronic nasal discharge


Primary ciliary dyskinesia (malfunction of the mucous clearing cilia in the lungs) Long-standing infections Inadequately treated infections or inflammations in the lungs Smoke or chemical inhalation Aspiration pneumonia (pneumonia caused by food, vomit, or other content being breathed into lungs) Radiation exposure Inhalation of environmental toxins followed by infections Obstruction of bronchi due to a foreign body Neoplasia of the lungs


There are variable causes which may lead to bronchial inflammation in your dog. Therefore, a detailed history and a complete physical examination are essential for diagnosis. You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health, the onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. Standard laboratory testing will include complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profiling, and urinalysis. Blood gas analysis will reveal information about the functional aspects of the lungs.

These tests will be helpful in looking for infections or other changes related to the underlying disease. Your veterinarian will also take x-ray images of the chest, respiratory tract, and bronchial tubes, which may or may not show abnormalities in the architecture of the lungs, including dilatation of the bronchi.

It is hoped that x-rays will reveal characteristic abnormalities in the bronchi that are related to this disease, but that is not always the case. Other changes in the lungs pertaining to chronic infections typically can be visualized using x-rays. Long term inflammation will leave evidence that can be visually examined. More sensitive testing, like computed tomography (CT) scanning, can be used for some patients, and this test may reveal more detailed information about structural changes within lungs. Your veterinarian will also take samples of tissue and fluid from the bronchi for laboratory evaluation.

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In case of severe disease, your dog may need to be hospitalized for a few days. Emergency treatment, including fluid therapy, oxygen therapy, and removal of viscid fluid from lungs will be conducted to overcome the crisis. Antibiotics are often used to eradicate the infectious organism, and physiotherapy can be used to enhance the clearance of secretions from lungs. Your veterinarian will recommend minimizing any exposure to irritants such as dust, smoke, aerosol compounds, and air fresheners, which can further complicate the disease. Anti-inflammatory medications may help to reduce your dog’s symptoms, making breathing easier. In severe cases, surgical removal of the affected lung lobe may be required.

Living and Management

If disease is affecting a small area of the lungs, the affected lung lobe will be removed in order to effectively resolve the underlying disease. Prognosis is excellent for animals that are treated early, before significant inflammation or permanent scarring has taken place.

Even in patients with resolution of the underlying disease or removal of the affected lobe, secondary infections are common. This is due to the diffuse nature of this disease, which often leads to complications. Or, some patients may take longer to completely recover due to the chronic nature of problem, the age or previous health condition of the dog, or because another underlying disease was not cured.

You will need to visit your veterinarian at regular intervals so that your dog’s progress can be followed, and so therapy and medication changes can be made appropriately, depending on your dog’s ongoing status. Follow-up care is of paramount importance in improving your dog’s prognosis.

Your dog may improve better with some extra care and attention during the recovery period. Extra patience will be required, as you assist your dog in its daily needs, and keep it protected from undue stress. A calm and quite space, away from main entry ways, and protected from active children and pets, will help your dog to rest and heal. Pay strict attention to the medication guidelines and scheduling of doses in order to prevent further complications.

Do not use anything in the home that will place unneeded stress on your dog’s bronchial airways. Fireplaces, air fresheners, cleaning products and chemicals are just some of the things that can irritate your dog’s respiratory tract. A place set aside where your dog can be taken when you are using any of these products is the best measure for protecting your dog from recurring attacks on its bronchial tubes.

If you see a return of any of the symptoms described above, immediately call your veterinarian or take your dog to a veterinary hospital. Bronchiectasis makes the bronchia more vulnerable, so it is not uncommon for a recurrence of emergency crisis to occur in these cases.

The prognosis is highly variable depending on the nature of the disease, the areas of the lungs being affected, the diffuse or focal nature of the disease, and the presence or absence of concurrent infections in the body. If treated properly, these patients can live well for number of years.

Sexual Development Disorders in Dogs

Reproductive Genetic Abnormalities in Dogs

Sexual development disorders in dogs occur due to errors in the genetic coding, which involve the chromosomes responsible for development of the sex organs – including the gonads (the male and female reproductive organs) – or when errors in gene development result in abnormal sexual differentiation, making it difficult to distinguish between male and female animals. Sexual disorders tend to be breed specific.

Symptoms and Types

This condition is usually caused by disorders affecting the chromosomes that determine the traits of a dog’s sexual function. Gonadal disorders affect the reproductive organs, and phenotypic disorders affect the physical and biochemical reproductive properties of the dog. The signs and symptoms of gonadal or reproductive sexual development disorders may include having an unusually large clitoris, for the female, or having an undescended testicle, for the male. Other unusual reproductive organ characteristics may also be present.

Signs and symptoms of chromosomal sexual development disorders may include defects in the number of sex chromosomes. In the process of genetically screening your dog, your veterinarian may find an abnormal number of X or Y chromosomes in your dog’s genetic make-up.

Signs and symptoms of phenotypic sexual development disorders may include external reproductive organs that do not match the internal chromosomes. A dog that carries male chromosomes for example, may appear to have feminine external genitalia, or a smaller than normal penis. Some animals may possess a normal reproductive organ, but also have an additional, sometimes functional, very small second reproductive organ of the opposite gender.


Sexual development disorders most commonly occur because of inherited traits or because of external causes, like the administration of toxins to the pregnant female parent (such as hormones) during pregnancy. Risk factors may also include the ingestion or administration of male or female hormones, like progesterone, during pregnancy.


These types of disorders are very rare, mainly limited to specific breeds of animals, including Boston terriers and miniature schnauzers. Sexual development disorders are often apparent from birth, especially if they affect the reproductive organs and involve overly large or small reproductive organs. Individual animals that are normal in appearance, with normal external reproductive organs and abnormal chromosomes, may not be identified until they reach their reproductive years.

Diagnosis may not occur until attempts are made to breed the animal. During this time other diagnoses to rule out may include infertility, hormonal problems, including hypothyroidism, testicular problems, including degeneration, and poor timing during breeding.

Once the above conditions are ruled out, your veterinarian may carry out tests to measure hormone levels, and may conduct tests to define chromosomal sex characteristics to see whether abnormalities exist in the sex chromosomes. Physical tests will include making note of the shape and size of the reproductive organs for comparative purposes, to confirm whether any external abnormalities exist.

Treatment and Care

Treatment and care will depend on the condition. Some patients will present with skin conditions along with the reproductive sex disorders. In these cases local or topical treatments may provide symptomatic relief. Shampoos or oils may be helpful for topical treatment. In some cases reconstructive surgery may be used to restore a more uniform cosmetic appearance in animals with deformed reproductive organs, especially in male dogs with misshapen genitals.

The removal of an overly large clitoris (part of the female reproductive organ) may be necessary, especially if it is causing trauma to the animal. Sterilization may be necessary for the prevention of later complications, including recurring urinary tract infections.

Living and Management

Most dogs will recover well from surgical and other procedures that are done to improve their cosmetic and physical health. Avoiding synthetic hormones, including progesterone, estrogen, or androgen, may be advised, depending on the type of sexual development disorder your dog has.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) Syndrome

What is Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) Syndrome?

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening emergency for dogs. In this condition, the stomach swells, usually with food and gas (dilatation), and twists on its axis (volvulus) in a way that the stomach contents cannot be passed into the intestines or vomited.

This swelling and twisting endanger the stomach and can also affect other nearby body systems, including the spleen and the major blood vessels of the abdomen. This can lead to severe stress on the heart, shock, and if not treated quickly, death.

GDV differs a bit from bloat in dogs. In both bloat and GDV the stomach becomes distended, but in GDV the stomach also twists on itself.  The word volvulus is derived from the Latin word volvere, which means “to twist.” It is possible to have bloat (of air or food) and not have a GDV. Often, bloat can be treated medically, whereas the treatment for GDV is almost always surgical.

GDV is a medical emergency. If you suspect your dog may be experiencing GDV, take them to the nearest veterinary hospital immediately.

Symptoms of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) Syndrome

GDV may start with mild symptoms of abdominal pain. These include inability to settle, reluctance to engage in normal activity, decreased appetite, and drooling. A balloon-like, bloated abdomen is a common finding, but it may not be easily visible. Volvulus can occur without bloat and still be severe.

An enlarged abdomen with or without frequent, non-productive retching and gagging warrants an emergency visit to the veterinarian. If symptoms are noted, especially in an at-risk breed, every minute counts. This is an emergency condition and must be treated immediately.

Causes of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) Syndrome

Though a specific cause of GDV has not been found, there are a few risk factors that have been confirmed. Any breed can be affected, but it is most common in the German Shepherd, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Weimaraner, Standard Poodle, Irish Setter, Gordon Setter, and Basset Hound.

Mixed breeds with deep chests or a family history of GDV are just as likely to develop the condition. Risk increases with age, though it can also occur in young dogs.

How Veterinarians Diagnose GDV

Most vets will have a strong suspicion for GDV based on history and physical exam, but confirmation requires X-rays. A twisted stomach has a specific shape on X-ray that is easy to differentiate from simple bloat.

Bloodwork, blood pressure, and an EKG can help your veterinarian determine how severe the disease is and if there are other factors complicating treatment.

Treatment of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus Syndrome

Treatment for GDV is almost always surgical. The veterinarian’s first goal is to relieve stress on the heart with immediate, aggressive use of IV fluids, along with relief of the bloat. This often requires sedation and passing a tube down the esophagus to allow built-up gas to escape.

After initial stabilization, your dog will be put under anesthesia, and surgery will be performed to relieve remaining gas, untwist the stomach, and evaluate the abdomen for signs of permanent damage.

Severe cases may require resection (removal) of badly affected stomach wall, intestine, and spleen. The stomach is then tacked surgically to the wall of the abdomen in an effort to prevent GDV from happening again. This is known as a gastropexy, and it has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of recurrence.

Recovery and Prevention of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus Syndrome

After surgery, most dogs require hospitalization for pain medications, anti-nausea medications, and hydration. The hospital staff will also monitor your dog for complications that can occur in severely stressed body systems after surgery, such as arrhythmias (changes in heart rhythm) and blood clots.

Once sent home, dogs will rest for a few weeks as their organs heal. It is important to feed your dog frequent small meals to avoid any recurrence.

GDV is an emergency, but there are measures you can take to help prevent it. Dogs should be fed multiple small meals in a day rather than one large meal. Also, consider using a puzzle feeder or mat to slow your dog down at mealtimes. Though once commonly recommended, elevated feeding bowls may actually increase the risk of GDV and should be avoided. Avoid athletic activities immediately after eating, particularly in at-risk breeds.

Gastropexy is an essential part of preventing the recurrence of GDV, but it can also be performed at the time of neuter or spay surgery to reduce the potential for GDV to occur in the first place. Many surgical facilities offer minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures. It is highly recommended that you consult with your veterinarian about whether this procedure is advised for your dog.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) Syndrome FAQs

What is the survival rate for GDV in dogs?

It has been reported that 25–30% of dogs diagnosed with GDV will die. Dogs who arrive at a veterinary clinic more than six hours after clinical signs have started have a much worse prognosis. This disease requires quick treatment.

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Jamie Lovejoy, DVM


Dr. Jamie Lovejoy graduated from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 after an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology. …

Fungal Infection (Rhinosporidiosis) in Dogs

Rhinosporidiosis in Dogs

Rhinosporidiosis is a very rare chronic (long-term) infection that typically occurs in the mucous membranes of dogs. It most commonly occurs in the nose and nostrils, but can also take hold in the nose and eyes. Rhinosporidiosis belongs to the zoonotic class of fungal infections, meaning that it can be transmitted to humans.

Symptoms and Types

Signs and symptoms of rhinosporidiosis include the following: sneezing, bleeding, wheezing, or labored breathing; an infection of the nostrils with a cauliflower-like growth; a polyp or other growth located near or on the nostril – this growth may be white or yellowish in color and may appear speckled or spotted because of the fungus associated with the growth.

Humans will sometimes contract a form of this infection. In instances like this, one might notice a small growth or polyp on the reproductive organs, including the penis or vagina, or a growth along the ears or near the eyes. However, this type of fungal infection is exceedingly rare in dogs, and even more so in human beings.


The primary cause of rhinosporidiosis is infection with the fungus rhinosporidium seeberi. Risk factors include frequent exposure to stagnant or standing water, and living in a dry and dusty climate.


The best way to diagnose an infection caused by rhinosporidium seeberi is by examining the polyp or nasal growth, or examining the abnormal cells caused by the fungus. Your veterinarian can do this by removing the polyp, or by removing part of the affected tissue for bioptic examination.

Your doctor may also find it necessary to order a radiograph or x-ray of the nasal cavity; however, these typically will return as normal, as will other types of tests, including urine tests and blood tests.

The fungus responsible for this rare type of infection may show up on other types of findings, including what are known as histopathologic findings. These include diagnostic tests of epithelial or skin cell analysis, and testing of organisms in the surrounding tissues. A medical professional may excise or cut away the mass, or perform a rhinotomy, which involves cutting into part of the nose to remove the infected tissue.

To confirm a diagnosis, your veterinarian will usually confirm the pathologic findings, which will typically show ulcers in the skin cells, an abnormal increase in the number of cells within the tissue surrounding the nose or nostril, and fibrous tissue surrounding the nasal cells. Lab testing will show an inflammatory reaction within the skin cells if the fungal organisms are released into the surrounding skin and nasal tissue, making identification of the fungus possible.


Treatment involves proper hygiene and proper attention to wound care. It is important to keep your pet confined, or within a cage, during recovery, and to keep the area clean and free of debris, to prevent the possibility of re-infection.

Living and Management

It is important to return to your veterinarian for follow up care so that your pet can be checked for any re-growth or complications. In some cases it is impossible to remove the entire growth during a preliminary surgery, so it may be necessary for your doctor to repeat some procedures or provide additional care. Because it is possible for humans to become infected with rhinosporidiosis, it is important to practice good hygiene at all times.

Brain Inflammation in Dogs

Encephalitis in Dogs

The term “encephalitis” refers to an inflammation of the brain. However, it also may be accompanied by the inflammation of spinal cord (myelitis), and/or the inflammation of the meninges (meningitis), membranes which cover the brain and spinal cord.

German short-haired pointers, Maltese, and Yorkshire terriers are all found to be predisposed to encephalitis.

Symptoms and Types

Although symptoms may vary depending on the portion of brain affected, they typically appear suddenly and are rapidly progressive. Such symptoms include:

FeverSeizuresBehavioral changes (e.g., depression)Decreased responsivenessHead tilt to either sideParalysis of faceUncoordinated movements or circlingUnequal size of pupils (anisocoria)Smaller sized pinpoint pupilsDecreased consciousness, which may worsen as disease progresses


Idiopathic (unknown cause)Immune-mediated disordersPostvaccinal complicationsViral infections (e.g., canine distemper, rabies, parvovirus)Bacterial infections (anaerobic and aerobic)Fungal infections (e.g., aspergillosis, histoplasmosis, blastomycosis)Parasitic infections (e.g., Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis)Foreign bodies


You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated the unusual behaviors or complications. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count — the results of which will depend on the underlying cause of the encephalitis.

If your dog has an infection, the complete blood count may show an increased number of white blood cells. Viral infections, meanwhile, may decrease the number of lymphocytes, a type of white cells (also known as lymphopenia). And abnormal reduction in platelets (small cells used in blood clotting) is a good indicator of thrombocytopenia.

To confirm lung involvement and related complications, your veterinarian may employ chest X-rays, while MRIs and CT-scans are used to evaluate the brain involvement in detail. Your veterinarian may also collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is then sent to a laboratory for cultures. This is necessary for definitive diagnosis and to determine the severity of the problem. If culture assays are unsuccessful, a brain tissue sample may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis, but this is an expensive procedure.


Your veterinarian will focus on reducing the severity of the symptoms, such as brain edema and seizures, and halt the progression of the disease. Severe forms of encephalitis require immediate hospitalization and intensive care. For instance, those suspected of having bacterial infections will be given broad spectrum antibiotics, which can reach the brain and spinal cord.

Living and Management

With proper treatment and care, symptoms gradually improve within two to eight weeks; however, the overall prognosis depends on the underlying cause of the condition. For example, in some dogs, symptoms may reappear once treatment is discontinued. In such instances, a second round of treatment (or long-term treatment) may be required to save the dog’s life.

Your veterinarian will schedule regular follow-up exams to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment and the dog’s state of health. He or she may even recommend a new diet for the dog, especially if it is frequently vomiting or severely depressed.

7 Pool Safety Tips for Dogs

Summer is here, and it’s only natural to want to be outside. A big part of summer is swimming in the pool, but can your canine family members take part in the fun too? The short answer: Yes! But read on for a few things to keep in mind when inviting your furry friends to join you poolside.

As with humans, pool safety is key to keeping the good times going. When it comes to dogs, many of them love the water and will take to it naturally, while others will benefit from a little swim training. Whether or not your dog is a born swimmer, it’s important to make your pool accessible for them, giving them easy ways in and out of the water—that will also keep your pool from being damaged.

Key Takeaways

Make sure your pup is comfortable with water first–before letting them dive directly into a pool. Some pups are natural born swimmers, some are not.Life jackets are a great way to ensure your pup is safe during any water activity–no matter their swim style.Never leave a pup unattended near a pool.

Is It Safe to Have a Pool With Dogs?

If precautions are taken, it can be safe to have a pool when you have fuzzy family members. Making your pool environment safe for you and your dog, whether or not you invite them in for a swim, will keep everyone safe, happy, and prepared for a great summer.


How your dog can easily and safely get out of the poolGetting a pool fence to keep them away altogether (especially if you keep a solar cover on your pool)Life vestsEnsuring your dogs are supervised at all times when they are in and/or around the pool    

Pool Safety Tips for Dogs

Install a Pool Fence

Sometimes a fence blocks off a general part of the yard, keeping younger children and fur children away from the pool. But perimeter fences, which can be installed temporarily, go around the border of the pool itself, leaving an entrance open and only a couple of inches away from the very edge of the pool.

They are installed in panels that stand about 4–5 feet off the ground. In other words, no jumping into the pool from the sides. This is also a good way to ensure safety, so your pup doesn’t accidentally fall into the water.

Teach Your Dog to Swim

While many dogs are natural swimmers and have the instinct to paddle, being in the water can make them nervous or scared if they weren’t expecting to be there. Anxious dogs may even panic, which can lead them to exhaust themselves in the water and, in a worst-case scenario, drown.

If you want your dog to be prepared, safe, and confident in the water, consider swimming lessons! Training your dog to be comfortable in the water is the main goal, but teaching them to learn to swim properly is just as important. Even better, it’s great exercise for dogs, especially older pups with mobility issues.

To teach your dog yourself, start by carrying them into shallow water and lowering them down. They will probably start paddling their front paws, but this “method” ends up with a lot of splashing and not a lot of swimming. Holding up the back of their bodies, under their waist, will keep them from ending up in a vertical position and help them start to paddle their rear paws as well. Use positive reinforcement and praise to help your pup swim to the pool steps in the beginning, then stick by their side as they start to venture out and perfect their paddle.

And never forget that any activity you do with your furry friend is a great bonding opportunity! Sharing their water adventures, including training them, will build trust between you and your dog, making them feel even safer while in the water.

Use Dog Life Jackets

While training your dog to swim, a great way to keep them afloat is using a life jacket. A life jacket or flotation device will keep your dog safe in case they tire easily, which is something to keep in mind with larger breeds and senior dogs.

Life jackets can also come in handy for breeds that want to join in the fun with their humans but aren’t natural swimmers. If your dog has a large head, short snout, flat face, or short legs like English and French Bulldogs, invest in a reliable life jacket before considering a trip to the pool. 

Always Supervise Your Dog Around Water

The most important thing to remember when letting your pup play in the water with you is to always keep an eye on them. There are several things to look out for before, during, and after your dog is in the pool:

No drinking the water. Every dog (and human) who gets in the pool will inhale some pool water once in a while, but watch out for excessive drinking. Pools treated with chlorine can be harmful to ingest if your dog drinks too much. The same goes for salt water pools; too much salt is never good for a pup. And if your pup is hot and exhausted from being outdoors and swimming, they’re going to want to drink it to quench their thirst.

Fortunately, the amount of chlorine in the pool water is very diluted. Symptoms are mild and include mild gastrointestinal issues, but it’s still a good idea to stop your dog from drinking too much of it. Keep fresh water and a portable dog bowl nearby so your pup has access to clean drinking water at all times.

Watch to see if your dog gets tired. Dogs who are enjoying themselves in the pool may not notice they’re getting tired. If you notice the rear part of their body sinking a bit, that’s a good sign that they’re becoming fatigued and could use a break. This is when a life vest or flotation device can save them from slipping beneath the water’s surface, but if you don’t have one for your dog, ensure that they have a safe and easy way to get out of the pool.

Pool ramps, steps, and ladders for dogs will give your pup a safe spot to exit and take a breather before jumping in again.

Providing a reliable access point for them will also help during training and if your dog gets nervous in the water.

Check your dog’s paws and ears. Chlorinated water is safe for your dog to swim in, but too much of a good thing can take its toll. As with humans, too much exposure to chlorine can cause dry skin, and if you notice your dog licking their paws after being in the pool, their pads could be irritated.

Chlorine can also affect their fur, making it dry or even changing the color. If your dog is a frequent pool guest, give them a rinse or a bath to remove the chlorine, and consider a conditioner for their fur before they get in the pool. For their paws, you can even use the same paw balm you use in the winter.

While it’s commonly thought to be a chlorine issue, water in the ears can lead to an infection if it goes untreated. Dogs with floppy ears are especially prone to infections, so give the insides of your dog’s ears a quick rub with a cotton ball. If it seems like they’re pawing at their ears or shaking their heads more than usual after a swim, or you notice redness in the ear canal, give your vet a call.

If you think your dog might be a swimmer, invite them in. Just take a few precautionary measures and your fuzzy family member can join you in the pool instead of watching from the air-conditioned house—unless that’s what they prefer! It’s great exercise for you both and it’s also a perfect way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog, building trust that lasts beyond pool season.

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Jamie Frevele

Jamie Frevele is a writer who has worked for Marvel, WWE, and more. She is now writing her own stories, so you can follow that journey on…

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs

What Is Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs?

Brachycephalic is a term that refers to dog breeds with shortened snouts and flat faces. The term brachycephalic comes from the Greek words brachy, meaning short, and cephalic, meaning head. 

Brachycephalic airway syndrome refers to a specific combination of abnormalities affecting a dog’s airway and breathing, resulting from selectively breeding for this appearance. Their unique smooshed face is a result of shortened skull, facial, and nasal bones. This structural shortening of the face also results in anatomical changes to their throat and airways, creating brachycephalic airway syndrome. 

Specifically, the condition refers to the combination of three functional abnormalities:

Stenotic nares: Referring to narrow nostrils or small nostril openings. This results in a decreased ability to breathe through the nose and restricted airflow, which leads to increased panting and a higher risk of overheating. 

Elongated soft palate: The soft palate is the part of the roof of the mouth made up of tissue that separates the nasal passage from the oral cavity. Given brachycephalic dogs’ shorter snout, the soft palate is often too long for the length of their mouth. The excess flaps into the throat, causing snoring sounds and blocking airflow into the windpipe and lungs. 

Everted laryngeal saccules: In normal anatomy, there are two small pockets (saccules) in the back of the throat. In brachycephalic dogs, there is an increased effort to breathe due to the stenotic nares and elongated soft palate. This increased effort to breathe can cause the saccules to turn inside out and further block the airway. 

Additional airway-related conditions to brachycephalic airway syndrome include:

Hypoplastic trachea: This means the trachea, or windpipe, is congenitally smaller in diameter than normal. This can make it harder for dogs to breathe in enough air with each breath (like breathing through a straw). 

Laryngeal collapse: The larynx, or voice box, can become damaged by chronic stress to the cartilage from working too hard to breathe. Laryngeal collapse leads to more blockage of the airway, and potentially trouble breathing.

Which dog breeds are considered brachycephalic?


Boston Terrier



Brussels Griffon

Cane Corso

Chow Chow

Dogue de Bordeaux

English Bulldog

English Toy Spaniel

French Bulldog

Japanese Chin

Lhasa Apso



Shih Tzu

Symptoms of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Clinical signs are typically related to upper airway blockage due to the congenital anatomical conditions causing brachycephalic airway syndrome. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and include:

Noisy breathing


Gagging or retching


Trouble breathing or increased effort to breathe

Increased panting 

Exercise intolerance (tire easily with exercise)

Distended abdomen or vomiting from swallowing too much air while working to breathe


Pale or blue gums


Causes of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is a genetic condition resulting from intentionally breeding dogs for a cosmetic appearance of short snouts with flat faces. Their anatomically shortened heads lead to structural changes to their throats and airways, which can cause trouble breathing and make these dogs prone to overheating.   

How Veterinarians Diagnose Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Diagnosis will be largely based on the dog’s breed, clinical signs, and physical examination findings, such as stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils). A classic breathing noise characterized as a low-pitched, snoring-type sound called stertor may be noted in dogs with brachycephalic airway syndrome. 

Your veterinarian may want to perform a sedated oral examination to evaluate for elongated soft palate and everted laryngeal saccules. An x-ray of the neck and chest may also visualize the trachea (windpipe) and assess the heart and lungs. A complete blood count, serum blood chemistry, and urinalysis will likely be recommended for a baseline evaluation.  

Treatment of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Medical management may be an option if clinical signs are mild or infrequent. Excessive weight worsens the symptoms, so medical management for brachycephalic airway syndrome includes weight loss if your dog is overweight or obese. Heat and humidity can also worsen clinical signs, so care should be taken to limit time outside during hot summer days. Excessive exercise can increase stress of breathing and may exacerbate brachycephalic airway syndrome.

If your dog is having trouble breathing while at the vet, they may utilize mild sedatives to help your dog calm down and breathe easier. Additional therapy may be initiated if appropriate, including steroids, oxygen, and cooling measures, all designed to alleviate acute respiratory distress. Medication may also be administered to address any gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting. 

Surgery may be considered if the structural abnormalities cause distress to your dog, become worse over time, or result in life-threatening trouble breathing from upper airway blockage. Life-threatening would be defined as more than one episode where your pet has had trouble breathing and needed medical assistance.  Multiple procedures are usually required to alleviate the signs of brachycephalic airway syndrome, and include:

Stenotic nares resection: Surgically widening the nostrils.

Soft palate resection (staphylectomy): Surgical trimming of the soft palate to shorten the tissue.

Laryngeal saccule removal: Removing the everted saccules.

All three procedures can be performed at the same time, and this is typically most recommended. Most dogs with brachycephalic airway syndrome are diagnosed by 4 years old, but surgical correction can be performed as early as 4 months of age. Early diagnosis and surgical intervention may help reduce complications of chronic upper airway disease, such as developing laryngeal collapse. If you have a brachycephalic breed, discuss brachycephalic airway syndrome with your veterinarian, and if your dog is a possible candidate for surgery.  

How Much Does Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome Surgery Cost?

The cost of surgery for brachycephalic airway syndrome can vary depending on many factors, including geographic location, how sick the dog is, and how extensive the procedure needs to be. However, if all three procedures are performed, pet parents can likely expect to paya total between $3,000 and $5,000. 

Pet insurance may be a good idea to help offset anticipated costs and illnesses related to getting a new pup. However, when it comes to inherited and breed-related conditions (like brachycephalic airway syndrome), not all policies offer coverage if conditions are considered pre-existing. Make sure that any pet insurance policy you consider covers brachycephalic dogs and brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Recovery and Management of Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Dogs undergoing brachycephalic airway surgery are monitored carefully after surgery, as inflammation and bleeding are possible. Typically, they will remain hospitalized in a 24-hour ICU for 1-2 days of observation. 

The prognosis is good for young dogs, and most pet parents see a significant improvement in their breathing and ability to exercise. However, prognosis may be more guarded in older dogs with a chronic history of trouble breathing, especially if they have started to develop laryngeal collapse. In cases of advanced laryngeal collapse, a tube may need to be inserted in the neck (permanent tracheostomy) to provide improvement in breathing.

For long-term management, it’s crucial to keep brachycephalic dogs lean and at an appropriate weight.  Working with your vet on a weight goal and, if needed, a weight loss plan may be very beneficial. A harness collar is recommended to take pressure off the neck as seen with a traditional neck collar. 

Extreme care should always be taken to ensure that brachycephalic dogs do not overheat. Minimal activity or time outside during hot and humid weather is recommended, and always have plenty of fresh water and access to shade. 


 Fossum T, Hedlund C, et al. American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Brachycephalic Syndrome.

Small Animal Surgery. 3rd ed. Mosby Elsevier; 2007.

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Veronica Higgs, DVM


Dr. Veronica Higgs is a 2010 graduate from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.  She then completed a 1-year rotating…