Gastroenteritis refers to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, meaning the stomach and the intestines. It can be caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, parasites, medications, or even new foods. The condition often causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and/or other clinical signs.
Most dogs with gastroenteritis will have intermittent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. The vomit may contain foamy, yellowish bile, especially after the stomach has been emptied. Many owners will observe dry heaving or gagging after their dog eats or drinks.
“Most dogs with gastroenteritis will have intermittent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea.”
Characteristically, there will be large volumes of diarrhea produced several times a day. The diarrhea may have the consistency a soft-serve ice cream. Many dogs will be tender when picked up around the abdomen or will resist handling of the stomach and hindquarters. Most dogs affected with gastroenteritis will appear less active (lethargic) and have a decreased appetite. A low-grade fever is also common. Dehydration can occur quickly if the vomiting and diarrhea persists for more than twenty-four hours.