Kaiser the American Bulldog, Tia the Pomeranian and Dante the West Highland White Terrier share the same home, playing with one another, sharing toys, and sometimes even sharing food bowls. It’s no surprise that when one of them falls ill, the other two can be prone to suffering from the same affliction.
The latest problem first seemed like a one-off situation affecting only Dante. Like many West Highland White Terriers, he suffers from allergic skin disease that can be difficult to control. One week, he was started onto a novel type of anti-inflammatory medication. The new drug, known as Atopica, can be an effective alternative to the usual steroids, with less side effects. There’s one minor problem: some dogs suffer from a transient upset stomach when they start a course of treatment. This upset usually settles down after a couple of days, and there isn’t usually any need to stop the new medication.
All three dogs began to show the same symptoms
As it happened, Dante did suffer from an episode of gastroenteritis within a few days of starting the drug: he brought up his dinner, and had a runny tummy at the other end too. Christopher was not over-concerned, assuming that it was just the new treatment, and that things would shortly return to normal. It was only when the other two dogs started to suffer from the same problem that he began to wonder if there was something else going on.
Kaiser was next to be affected: his dinner was regurgitated on the Friday before the Bank Holiday. Then Tia joined in, with the same signs of gastroenteritis over the Bank Holiday Weekend. It was quite a challenge for Christopher, with all three dogs suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea at the same time. He was not overly concerned: all three dogs were as bright and cheerful as ever.
Most cases of gastroenteritis in dogs settle down by simply feeding a bland diet (such as chicken and rice) for 48 hours. And as with Christopher’s dogs, if the animals are in good form, with no other signs of illness, no dullness and no bleeding, a visit to the vet is not always needed.
A TRIP TO THE VET
On the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday, the problem was continuing, despite the bland diet, so Christopher brought them all in to see me. I checked each dog out carefully, and they all seemed in good general health: no high temperatures, no dehydration, no other signs of a serious problem. They were suffering from gastro-enteritis – inflammation of the stomach and small intestines. This is common in dogs, because they tend to be scavengers, picking up bits and pieces from wherever they visit. Dogs are prone to eating things that disagree with their digestive system, and the gastroenteritis is nature’s way of ejecting a potentially nasty substance from the body as rapidly as possible. It’s especially common in the summer because the warm weather means that any foodstuffs left in the open air spoil more rapidly.
I suspected that one of two things had happened: either all three dogs had found something repulsive in the garden that they had all sampled (such as rotting leaves or a small animal or bird carcase), or they may have picked up a mild virus. My recommended treatment was simple: a special prescription-only bland diet, designed to help cases of gastroenteritis recover more rapidly, accompanied by a paste designed to soothe the irritated lining of the digestive tract.
Two days later, all three dogs had made a full recovery. Even Dante’s skin is looking better: despite the gastric upset, his new medication is already having a positive effect.
- Gastroenteritis is common in dogs especially in the summer
- Vomiting and diarrhoea are the main signs
- In mild cases, simple home treatment is often enough to solve this problem