Gastroesophageal Reflux In Lhasa Apso Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Preventions And Treatments

Lhasa Apso standing in front of grey background

Lhasa Apso is a dog less than a foot tall with condensed skulls. Lhasa Apso dogs are at risk for developing Gastroesophageal Reflux as they age. This uncomfortable condition can be a symptom of an underlying problem or cause internal damage. Gastroesophageal Reflux in Lhasa Apso dogs can occur only once or turn into a chronic problem.

Lhasa Apso Gastroesophageal Reflux Explained

Gastroesophageal Reflux, also known as Acid Reflux or GERD, is a common condition in dogs. Acid Reflux happens when the acid in a dog’s stomach comes back up to the esophagus. This occurs because the sphincter, a muscle opening in the stomach, relaxes, allowing bile, acid, and enzymes to come up. The sphincter typically does not relax in healthy dogs, and when it does, it is a sign that something is wrong. Once everything comes up, and through the sphincter, the dog can feel inflammation and irritation. This condition is treated and prevented with dietary changes and medications. 

Causes of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Lhasa Apso

Although Gastroesophageal Reflux is common in all dogs, the Lhasa Apso breed is especially susceptible to this condition. Lhasa Apso dogs are brachycephalic dogs with predisposition conditions. Brachycephalic dogs have condensed skulls and narrow breathing pathways. These ‘pushed-in‘ faced dogs have a short esophagus. Lhasa Apso dogs have a short esophagus, which results in a greater chance of developing Gastroesophageal Reflux as there is a shorter length for bile and acid to travel back up.

Pre-existing conditions like a hiatal hernia can cause Acid Reflux in dogs. Lhasa Apso are genetically likely to inherit a hiatal hernia, which can cause acid reflux. A hiatal hernia occurs when the muscles surrounding the stomach and esophagus become weak and the upper stomach dip and protrude into the chest cavity. Stomach contents are poured into different body regions and cause vomiting and severe damage to the stomach, lungs, intestines, and esophagus.

Unfortunately, a Hiatal Hernia is not easy to prevent. There are two main ways to develop this condition. One way to develop a Hiatal Hernia in Lhasa Apso dogs is by being born with the condition already. The only other way to develop this condition is to have trauma to the stomach region. Lhasa Apso dogs are more likely to be born with a hiatal hernia because they are Brachycephalic dogs. Brachycephalic dogs have a higher risk of developing a hiatal hernia. The reason this occurs is Lhasa Apso dogs are born with small stomachs. Lhasa Apso dogs are tiny dogs, only measuring about 10-11 inches in height, and small stomachs are more likely to flip and protrude into other organs in the body. Surgery is the only treatment for this condition, and it can be painful.

While Lhasa Apso dogs have predispositions for Gastroesophageal Reflux, environmental factors also play a role. Gastroesophageal Reflux, for instance, can be caused by administering an anesthetic to a dog. Some anesthetic procedures alter the way the sphincter works and relaxes it during the procedure. Acid Reflux can happen when a dog eats before the procedure, causing food, bile, and stomach acid to rise. The anesthetic, if not applied correctly, can also increase the risk of developing Gastroesophageal Reflux in Lhasa Apso dogs. When too much anesthetic is administered, the sphincter relaxes and does not revert to its original tensed muscle status.

Young dogs are at a higher risk of developing Gastroesophageal Reflux because of their age. Lhasa Apso dogs in their puppy stages are still developing and growing. The sphincter, an important muscle that controls throwing up, is still developing in Lhasa Apso puppies, increasing the likelihood that they will develop Acid Reflux. Young age, coupled with the small size of the sphincter, can cause internal development problems as well.

An over or underproduction of stomach acids is another cause of Acid Reflux. Lhasa Apso dogs that cannot produce the appropriate amount of stomach acids are at a higher risk for acid reflux. For example, overproducing stomach acids can occur when Lhasa Apso dogs consume spicy or high in fat or oil food. The stomach acid then comes up the esophagus as there is too much without an escape. On the other hand, the underproduction of stomach acids can occur because of an illness or a reaction to medications. Typically when Acid Reflux happens in Lhasa Apso dogs because of the production of stomach acids, it is not a chronic issue and an isolated occurrence.

Overweight dogs suffering from obesity are at a higher risk for developing Acid Reflux as well. This is because overweight Lhasa Apso dogs stretch their stomachs to the limit by eating, and overweight dogs typically do not eat diets full of rich nutrients. This causes acid reflux because poor diets are difficult to digest and consume for Lhasa Apso dogs. A poor diet is one that lacks the proper amount of meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits. Lhasa Aps dogs should be fed food that is high in fatty acids, but not in saturated fats.

A common cause of Acid Reflux in Lhasa Apso dogs is stress. Stress can cause stomach aches and digestive issues, which may result in Acid Reflux over time. When dogs are stressed out, they have difficulties digesting food and producing an appropriate amount of acid to protect their stomach lining. Typically in these cases, acid Reflux only occurs occasionally.

lhasa apso sitting next to top hat in front of black background

How Gastroesophageal Reflux Can Affect Your Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso dogs can be impacted immensely by the condition of Gastroesophageal Reflux. As you could probably guess, some negative effects come with this condition. Dogs with Acid Reflux can cause damage to their esophagus that cannot be reversed or fixed with home remedies. A symptom of Acid Reflux is throwing up or regurgitating food. Dogs that develop these symptoms can cause damage to their esophagus that causes painful swallowing and obvious discomfort. Constantly throwing up can also cause stomach ulcers in Lhasa Apso dogs. If it continues, the damage may need surgery to fix.

Believe it or not, teeth are also affected by Gastroesophageal Reflux. Lhasa Apso dogs suffering from Acid Reflux can damage their teeth, making it difficult to eat. The Acid Reflux symptom of throwing up is responsible for this problem. The harsh acids in the stomach that come up the esophagus stain and cling onto dogs’ teeth. The teeth may then decay and fall out because of the acidity of the vomit.

Not only can Gastroesophageal Reflux make it difficult for your Lhasa Apso to swallow and eat, but they may stop eating altogether. If a dog has Gastroesophageal Reflux for a long time, they may fear eating and lose their appetite. This is serious and needs to be treated right away by a professional. When dogs lose their appetite and begin eating less, they also lose substantial bodyweight. This is especially dangerous for the Lhasa Apso breed of dog because of their short height and low weight. On average, Lhasa Apso dogs weigh between 12-18 lbs. Even ‘small’ weight loss can be dangerous because this dog breed already weighs so little! One to two pounds of weight loss can indicate a bigger problem that requires urgent attention.

The Life Expectancy of a Lhasa Apso With Gastroesophageal Reflux

The life expectancy of a Lhasa Apso is 12-15 years old. Acid Reflux is common in all dog breeds and is not something a pet owner should be startled by. The good news is the life expectancy of a Lhasa Apso is not altered with a diagnosis of Gastroesophageal Reflux because there are remedies and preventative techniques pet owners can use on their Lhasa Apso dog. Even though the life expectancy is not affected, worse problems can occur over time with the development of the condition.

Signs That Your Lhasa Apso Might Have Gastroesophageal Reflux

If Lhasa Apso dog owners begin to notice a difference in their dogs, they should immediately schedule an appointment with a veterinarian. There are only a few ways to determine if your dog has Gastroesophageal Reflux or not. The veterinarian will begin by asking the pet owner about any symptoms or changes they have noticed in their Lhasa Apso dog. With the information, the professional will determine if a diagnostic test is needed. If one is needed, the veterinarian may use a procedure called an Endoscopy.

An Endoscopy is a procedure used by veterinarians to look at the stomach and other organs using a camera. Dogs are put under safely using an anesthetic; then, a small camera called an endoscope is brought down the dog’s throat. The veterinarian can then see and assess the stomach lining and make a diagnosis. Veterinarians can also use urine and blood samples to Diagnose Acid Reflux and take note of any differences that could indicate a digestive system problem. 

Dog owners should be on the lookout for common symptoms, although it is important to note that dogs with Acid Reflux can lack outward symptoms. If Lhasa Apso dogs have Gastroesophageal Reflux, they may experience constant licking on the lips or the air. Dogs will lick the air to bring down the bile that is rising. Another common sign is bad breath. If owners notice their dog has bad breath, it could be because they are throwing up and regurgitating due to Acid Reflux.

Acid Reflux can worsen over time for your Lhasa Apso dog and develop in severity. This condition can worsen, causing severe damage to the dog’s stomach. If worse symptoms occurs, like constant throwing up, dry-heaving, lethargy, inactivity, and throwing up blood, it’s time to see an emergency veterinarian. Acid Reflux can bring mild discomfort, but it can also lead to death if not treated nor diagnosed quickly.

smiling lhasa apso sitting in front of grey background

How To Care for and Treat Your Lhasa Apso for Gastroesophageal Reflux

The good thing about Gastroesophageal Reflux is it is not a condition that lasts forever. Acid Reflux in Lhasa Apso dogs will go away with proper care. There are some exceptions, though. If the esophagus is too damaged and needs surgery, it may not reverse naturally. This goes for any organs that were damaged or inflamed by a Hiatal Hernia.

Foods that are high in fat are difficult to digest. Lhasa Apso dog owners should avoid providing these foods to their pets. There are dietary changes that owners can make to their pet’s food, decreasing the likeliness of Acid Reflux. Not only do foods high in fat trigger acid reflux, but oily foods do as well. Pet owners should focus on buying high-quality food with proteins and vitamins. Low-quality food can cause a surge of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Lhasa Apso dogs who have been diagnosed with this condition. Spicy foods can also cause an episode of acid Reflux. 

Dietary changes can prevent and treat Acid Reflux in Lhasa Apso. Adult dogs should eat a minimum of 18% of protein per serving of food, puppies need a minimum of 22% of protein, and vitamin A and D are also necessary for a nutritious diet.

Dog owners can prevent the likelihood of Acid Reflux by making changes. One of the main causes of Acid Reflux is a poor diet. Along with choosing a high quality dog food, owners should refrain from giving dogs food made for humans. Over processed foods are not good for dogs and can cause acid reflux as it is difficult for their bodies to digest the ingredients in these foods. Broccoli and chicken are two healthy alternatives Lhasa Apso dogs can eat to gain nutrients and protein. This is especially important for Lhasa Apso dogs that require a diet that is high in protein because of their long and thick coat. Although this specific diet is to maintain their coat and scalp, drastically changing a diet can also cause acid reflux. 

Dogs suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux should eat on a consistent schedule. This means pet owners should feed their dogs on a schedule instead of giving them a gravity feeder, which consistently drops dry food throughout the day. 

Overeating can cause obesity which leads to acid reflux in dogs. Not only should meals be scheduled, but they should also be smaller. Large meals can stress a dog’s stomach out. Not all dogs have the ability to pace themselves and eat when they are only hungry. This is especially true about puppies, and they are the main target for developing Gastroesophageal Reflux. If the food is out and the meal is large, they are likely to try to devour the entire thing, which can pressure their gastrointestinal system and increase the likeliness of acid Reflux. 

Pet owners can also prevent acid reflux by providing a stress-free zone for their dogs. Stress is a strong and common cause of Acid Reflux in Lhasa Apso dogs. Owners should provide a safe place for their pets to have fun and relax.

Dog owners that receive a diagnosis for their dogs should first take a step back and breathe. Acid reflux is treatable, and dogs with this condition can live happy and healthy lives with a few dietary and lifestyle changes. Dog owners should take steps, however, to face this health condition quickly. Any delays in treatment or prevention can lead to serious issues that can, in turn, lead to death. One of the more important steps is to schedule frequent veterinarian visits and follow the professional’s advice. These visits can allow the veterinarian to find any new issues that may arise because of acid reflux and help get them treated quickly. 

There are a few treatment options for this health condition. Your veterinarian will know the best route to take, but often times it’s as simple as changing diet. Luckily, pet owners can typically manage acid reflux at home.

Acid Reflux that is severe and has damaged the stomach lining or other organs will need further treatment. This treatment is usually surgery to repair what is not functioning properly anymore.

How To Help Your Lhasa Apso Live a Fulfilling Life With Gastroesophageal Reflux

There are ways to prevent Gastroesophageal Reflux from taking over your dog’s life. Besides the prevention tips above, pet owners should focus on creating a calm environment for their Lhasa Apso dogs as they become accustomed to a new routine.

Before Lhasa Apso dogs can live a fulfilling long life, they need to get used to their new diet and routine. Dog owners can provide a new dietary plan and slowly introduce it to their fur friends with one new meal each day. Your dog may be confused at first, but they will get the hang of it with your guidance. 

Dog owners should try pretending to eat the new food alongside their Lhasa Apso to show their fur friends safe and delicious. Lhasa Apso dogs feel more comfortable when they are safe and stress-free.

Portion sizes should be lowered as well but over time. Each day, your dog should get smaller and smaller portions until they are eating less food at frequent times throughout the day. It may take time to get used to, but your Lhasa Apso dog will live a happy and fulfilled life in the end!

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