First broadcast on  

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Gastritis is a common disorder in cats and dogs - but what is it ?

Gastritis literally means stomach ("Gastr..") inflammation ("..itis").  There are many causes of inflammation of the stomach including :

  • Trauma from so-called "foreign" bodies - eg bone fragments or pieces of plastic or metal - which are commonly swallowed by young puppies
  • Bacterial toxins in spoiled food - so avoid scavenging of garbage and left over food waste.
  • Infections - eg canine distemper virus or canine parvovirus, feline infectious enteritis virus. Your pet should be vaccinated against most of the common infections that can cause gastritis.
  • Gastritis can occur secondary to another systemic disease eg kidney failure, liver disease
  • Gastritis can occur due to drugs - eg aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Toxins - eg plants, heavy metals
  • Tumours - involving the stomach, or elsewhere in the body
  • Dietary allergy - an allergic reaction to something in the food

Gastritis causes vomiting - which can be sudden in onset (acute gastritis), or recurrent over a long period of time (chronic gastritis). The vomit usually contains clear mucus and may be stained yellow-green due to the presence of bile, and occasionally it may contain blood - which often appears coffee-brown in colour. The vomiting may or may not be associated with eating or drinking.

You should seek veterinary attention if your pet develops persistent vomiting because it can be life-threatening.

Gastritis is often diagnosed just from the history and a veterinary examination of the animal , however it can only confirmed by examining the lining of the stomach and taking a tissue sample - called a biopsy. 

Most practices nowadays use an endoscope to examine the stomach and take a sample  - CLICK HERE to see a video sequence of what the inside of a dog stomach looks like through an endoscope This may take a minute or so to download.

Sometimes XRays (with and without a barium meal) are taken to help differentiate gastritis from other causes of vomiting.

Gastritis can be treated in many ways including the  following :

  • No food (fluids only) by mouth for 24-48 hours
  • Serious cases may require intravenous fluids by drip
  • Feeding a highly digestible "bland" food
  • Drugs to reduce gastric acid production - eg cimetidine
  • Drugs to stop vomiting eg metoclopramide , are only needed occasionally
  • Drugs to reduce the inflammation - eg corticosteroids are used occasionally
  • Antibiotics are only indicated if bacterial infection is a problem.
  • Some specific forms of gastritis may require surgical removal of part of the stomach.


Updated October 2013