What are Stomach Ulcers?
If your pet is showing signs of listlessness, is vomiting blood or if there is blood in its stool, a trip to the veterinarian is definitely in order. Your pet may have a stomach ulcer. A stomach ulcer is a lesion that develops in the soft tissue lining of the stomach.
This occurs when the mucous lining of the stomach is compromised and harsh stomach acids start to corrode the actual stomach tissue. While stomach ulcers can develop in cats, the condition is far more commonly seen in dogs. One of the leading causes of stomach ulcers in pets is the use of pharmaceutical medications, particularly anti-inflammatory drugs, making stomach ulcers a common condition in pets suffering from chronic arthritis.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- blood in vomit
- blood in stool (usually recognized by black tar-like stools)
- loss of appetite
- pale gums
- weakness and lack of energy
- abdominal pain – your pet may resist being touched around the stomach region
Diagnosing Stomach Ulcers
Your veterinarian will give your pet a thorough physical examination and run some additional tests in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Blood tests, urine analysis, an ultra-sound or an x-ray will all help to determine if the symptoms are caused by an ulcer or some other gastro intestinal complication. The most accurate method of diagnosing an ulcer is an endoscopy which allows your vet to take a look inside your pet’s stomach.
Help for Stomach Ulcers
The first step in treatment is to determine what caused the ulcer in the first place and try eliminating or treating the underlying problem. In addition, your veterinarian will probably prescribe medication aimed at reducing stomach acid and promoting the healing of the stomach tissue. This anti-ulcer medication will probably be prescribed for a course of 6-8 weeks.
While stomach ulcers always require veterinary treatment, there are herbal and homeopathic remedies that will assist in natural healing and help prevent recurrence. Glycyrrhiza glabra, more commonly known as licorice is an excellent natural ingredient for the treatment of stomach ulcers.
Licorice has both pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties which will help soothe the stomach, while its ability to promote cell growth assists in the rebuilding and strengthening of the stomach wall. Slippery Elm is also recommended as it helps to soothe and lubricate the digestive tract, including the stomach, and works on improving over-all digestive health. Lastly, Marshmallow helps by soothing painful and inflamed mucus membranes of the digestive system.