Stomach rot, also known as acute gastritis, garbage gut and dietary indiscretion, is a common cause of gastrointestinal disturbances in dogs. Stomach rot isn't usually fatal, and most dogs experience more than one episode of this illness in their lifetime. However, always consult with a veterinarian if symptoms last more than 24 hours, are severe or are accompanied by vomiting.
Gastritis, inflammation of the lining of the dog's stomach, produces symptoms similar to food poisoning in humans. The dog's stomach isn't actually rotting as the name implies -- the stomach is irritated, which causes common symptoms. The quick onset of diarrhea occurs, as well as anorexia, lethargic behavior and signs of pain, such as whining. Your dog may vomit, and some dog owners also hear loud intestinal sounds from their dog's abdominal region.
Because dogs are natural scavengers, eating from the garbage is the most common cause of stomach rot. Spoiled foods, bones, corncobs and materials such as aluminum foil can be found in garbage cans. Any of these potentially digested items are likely to cause gastrointestinal upset. If your dog eats trash from an outside trash can, he might even ingest a dead animal. It's usually impossible to determine the exact item that caused the episode of stomach rot -- although with a dog who conducts frequent rampages through a trash can, the source of new stomach problems is generally no mystery.
Stomach rot usually resolves on its own within 72 hours. If your dog eats while he has stomach rot, the symptoms can worsen because the digestive system is working to break down newly ingested foods while the stomach is inflamed from gastritis and trying to recover. The stomach needs to rest, so provide plenty of water, but don't feed your dog for 24 to 48 hours, according to Purdue University's College of Veterinary Medicine. After the diarrhea subsides, introduce bland foods such as boiled skinless chicken and rice into your dog's diet for three to four days. If he refuses bland foods, mix rice with a small amount of non-seasoned chicken broth. Several dog food companies have foods specific to upset stomachs, so check with your dog's veterinary for dietary suggestions. Provide frequent small meals; large amounts of foods in the stomach can trigger nausea. If diarrhea is persistent, some veterinarians suggest a half-and-half solution of water and Pedialyte to avoid dehydration, according to Dog Health Doc.
The best way to prevent stomach rot is to protect your dog from garbage contents. Keep a sturdy lid on the garbage can in your home and the can outside. As an added precaution, keep the garbage on your porch, under the sink or in another area that is out of your dog's reach. When he's outside, keep him on a leash or in a fenced-in area of your yard to prevent him from roaming the neighborhood. Frequently observe your yard to ensure that no garbage on your property or dead animals is within your dog's reach.
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Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.