Lymphocytic-Plasmacytic Gastroenteritis in Dogs
Lymphocytic-plasmacytic gastroenteritis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in which lymphocytes and plasma cells enter the lining of the stomach and intestines. It is thought to be caused by an abnormal immune response to environmental stimuli due to loss of normal immune regulation, in which bacteria in the intestine may be a trigger. Continued antigen exposure, along with unregulated inflammation, results in disease, although the exact mechanisms and underlying factors remain unknown.
Lymphocyic-plasmacytic gastroenteritis is the most common form of IBD affecting dogs (and cats). Basenjis, Lundenhunds, and Soft-coated Wheaton Terriers have particular familial forms of IBD.
Symptoms and Types
Signs vary dramatically from patient to patient depending on disease severity and the organ affected. Symptoms to look for include:
- Intermittent, chronic vomiting
- Chronic, small bowel diarrhea
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Long-term weight loss (cachexia)
- Black stoll
- Blood in the stool (red)
- Coughing up/vomiting up blood
- Genetic predisposition
- Bacterial and parasites infections
- Overgrowth of normal bacteria found in the intestines and stomach is suspected
- Possibly altered intestinal bacterial populations and immune alterations
- May be related to meat proteins, food additives, artificial coloring, preservatives, milk proteins and gluten (wheat)
Your veterinarian will do a complete physical exam and take a thorough history from you. A chemical blood profile, urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel will be ordered. Depending on their results, he or she may run intestinal tests or take blood to check the function of your dog’s thyroid and pancreas.
An endoscopy may be performed, which is very useful for the veterinarian to get a clearer look at the condition of the stomach and intestines, and to take samples for testing. In addition, a fecal sample will be taken for microscopic analysis to check for parasites.
Your veterinarian will keep your dog in the hospital if it is severely dehydrated due to chronic vomiting and diarrhea. There, your pet will be given fluids intravenously. (It should not be fed by mouth while it is still vomiting.) If your pet is severely underweight, your veterinarian may insert a stomach tube to feed your pet.
Depending on the underlying cause, he or she will change your pet’s diet, which is called elimination diets. Medication is also available depending on the underlying cause of the disease.
Living and Management
You will be advised to bring the dog back for a follow-up appointment. If the animal is still very ill or on strong medication, less time will pass between check-ups. As your pet stabilizes, your veterinarian will want to examine your pet less often.
You will also work with the veterinarian to formulate a new diet and assess the results on a continual basis until there are no more signs of illness.