If you are looking for home remedies for dog acid reflux, most likely your dog has a history of having nausea and perhaps vomiting that takes place in the early morning or night. Acid reflux in dogs is a very common condition that can be very frustrating for dog owners to deal with.
Affected dogs develop nausea and vomiting and then feel better once their stomach is full, only for the cycle repeating over and over. Breaking the cycle requires often a combination of dietary changes and possibly supplements.
Acid Reflux in Dogs
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, is the canine equivalent of heartburn seen in humans.
Gastric acid is simply digestive fluid produced by the stomach as part of the digestive process. Its purpose is to help the digestion of proteins, breaking them down into amino acids. The acid is specifically produced by special cells found in the lining of the stomach.
Because the acid can be quite corrosive, these special cells also produce mucus meant to the coat the stomach so to form a barrier from the acid and protect it.
While the production of acid is in many cases is not problematic, problems start when gastric acid ends up reaching the esophagus. While as already explained, the stomach is protected by mucus coating the stomach, the esophagus instead remains vulnerable. Acid climbing up the esophagus may therefore lead to inflammation (the medical term is esophagitis) and even the formation of ulcers in the esophagus.
Affected dogs typically show a variety of very bothersome symptoms: they may drool, swallow repeatedly, smack their lips, want to lick carpets or eat grass, suffer from loss of appetite and may have nausea, vomiting or regurgitation. Some dogs act panicky and quite frantic when they suffer from acid reflux and may rush to the dog owners as if pleading for help.
Home Remedies for Dog Acid Reflux
Acid reflux occurs when there is failure of the lower esophageal sphincter. In other words, a special valve meant to prevent stomach acid from traveling back into the esophagus ends up not working as it should. If your dog has acid reflux, it's important to keep it under control or the esophagus may end up damaged over time.
Because there are several possible underlying causes for acid reflux in dogs, it's important to see the vet. Your vet may want to rule out other medical disorders. For instance, chest x-rays may be needed to rule out megaesophagus (dilation of the esophagus) which may be exacerbating the condition.
Traditional veterinary treatment for acid reflux in dogs often involves the use of prescription medications meant to reduce acid production (such as sucralfate), but there are a few home remedies for dog acid reflux dog owners can try at home.
Because stomach acid is produced for the purpose of breaking down protein into aminoacids, dogs benefit from a low fat and low protein diet. This may go against the beliefs of many dog owners who feel that dogs do best with a diet that is low in carbs and grain-free. Not all dogs thrive on this.
For dogs with acid reflux, a grain-inclusive diet is instead beneficial because it is less likely to cause acid reflux problems, explains veterinarian Dr. Taus. Dr Taus reports Innova's turkey-based products and Purina ONE's sensitive stomach products have worked well for many dogs with this problem.
Different vets may suggest different diets. Other diet choices may include highly digestible diets such as Hills i/d or Purina Veterinary Diets EN. Over the counter choices include Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Low Fat dog food or Wellness Core Reduced Fat Adult Dog food.
Feeding More Often
Most dogs are typically fed two large meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Because acid production increases in between meals, this is one reason why dogs often develop signs of acid reflux at night. Indeed, the existence of a prolonged gap between meals is a main culprit for the accumulation of secreted acid in the stomach.
The night is often the longest stretch in between meals dog must endure and often results in dogs swallowing and smacking their lips and possibly even vomiting bile in the middle of the night or early morning.
It may therefore help feeding the dog a small snack before bed time, and, during the day, it helps feeding several smaller meals (anywhere between 3 and 6) spread out throughout the day with at least one hour and a half in between then, explains veterinarian Dr. Anna Cherry in an article on acid reflux diet for dogs.
Slippery Elm Bark
While there's not much you can do for a valve that's not sealing properly preventing acid from seeping up the esophagus, at least you can try reducing acid formation through diet in the first place and protecting the esophagus from any possible damage from any acid that manages to escape. Slippery elm bark may help relieve some discomfort caused by acid reflux in dogs by protectively coating the esophagus and stomach.
Slippery elm is a tree that is native to North America. What makes it effective against acid reflux is a substance called “mucilage” which when mixed with water forms a gel-type substance that can coat and soothe inflamed tissues in the gastrointestinal tract. For this reason, slippery elm is often called "Nature's Pepto Bismol."
Slippery elm can be prepared by adding a heaping teaspoon of dried bark powder to 8-12 oz of boiling water and simmering for 10-20 minutes. As it cools, it should become thicker than water, but if it's thick like jelly that's fine too, you would just give half the suggested dosage since it's more concentrated. Holistic vet Dr. Michelle Yasson suggests giving it up to 4 times a day at the following doses: Dogs under 25 lbs 1-2 Tablespoons, Dogs 25-50 lbs 2-4 Tablespoons. Dogs 50 lbs and up ¼ to ½ cup. For further suggestions on administering slippery elm to your dog, please read Dr. Yasson's page on feeding guidelines.
Because slippery elm may reduce absorption of certain medications, it is best that it is given at least 2 hours prior or 2 hours after the administration of other medications.
"You might think of it as a soothing internal bandage coating the digestive tract for its entire length. Imagine the relief for your pet to have a jelly-like coating soothing in an eosophagus (food pipe) burned by acrid vomitus, or in an ulcerated colon."~Dr. Yasson
Over-the Counter Medications
There are several over-the-counter products to treat acid reflux in humans that may be used in dogs. However, it's important to consult with a vet before trying any of these.
Pepcid ac (famotidine) may be given at a dose of one 10mg tablet per 20 to 40 pounds of body weight every 12 hours, alternatively, Prilosec (omeprazole) may be given at a dose of one 10mg tablet per 20 to 40 pounds of body weight every 24 hours, suggests veterinarian Dr. Kara.
As seen, there are several home remedies for dog acid reflux, however, there are several conditions that may mimic acid reflux, or acid reflux may be a sign of an underlying disorder that needs veterinary attention. It is always recommended to see your vet before trying any home remedies for dog acid reflux for proper diagnosis and treatment.
- DVM360: Don't miss these commonly misdiagnosed gastrointestinal diseases
- Dogshealthproblems.com: Home remedies for dog acid reflux