Stomach Inflammation (Atrophic) in Dogs

By PetMD Editorial on Oct. 30, 2008

Atrophic Gastritis In Dogs

Atrophic gastritis is a type of chronic (long-term) inflammation of the stomach lining. This condition is specifically identified via microscopic examination of tissues, revealing either a localized or diffuse reduction in the size and depth of the patient’s gastric glands. The gastric glands are the glands lining the stomach wall, secreting the gastric juices that aid in digestion.

While the condition remains rare and sporadic in most dog breeds, the Norwegian Lundehund dog breed has shown a high prevalence of atrophic gastritis.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of atrophic gastritis include occasional vomiting, as well as anorexia, sluggishness, weight loss, and pica (a term describing the eating of non-food items).


The exact cause of this specific type of gastritis is unknown, and may reflect chronic gastritis due to any number of reasons. Chronic gastritis may be induced in dogs that are immunized with their own gastric juice, for example. It is also believed that Helicobacter spp, a bacteria linked to vomiting and stomach illness, may be important in the development of gastritis.

It is also important to note that there may be a genetic predisposition to atrophic gastritis in the Norwegian Lundehund, as is speculated due to the prevalence of the disease in this breed of dog.


Definitive diagnosis of atrophic gastritis can only be achieved via the processes of gastroscopy, in which a small tube with a camera is led into the stomach for examination, and a biopsy of tissues in the stomach lining is taken for examination and diagnosis. A gastroscopy may reveal the prominence of blood vessels in the mucus-lined tissues of the stomach, which indicates mucosal thinning. Other laboratory tests, such as ultrasound imaging and urine analysis, can only be used in order to rule out other causes of symptoms and/or other forms of gastritis.


Treatment for atrophic gastritis, once properly diagnosed, does not require hospitalization. Treatment is home based. Medications can be prescribed in order to inhibit the secretion of gastric acid, and additional antibiotics will be necessary if infection with the Helicobacter spp bacteria is suspected. If vomiting persists, prokinetic agents (designed to enhance muscle activity in the gastrointestinal tract) may be prescribed as well.

Living and Management

Necessary medications will need to be administered regularly – long-term antacid therapy may be required. Use caution with medications known to worsen gastritis, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).


As there is no known cause exactly for this form of gastritis, there is no known prevention method. Owners of susceptible breeds, namely the Norwegian Lundehunde, should be aware of and alert for symptoms.

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