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Reduced Activity of the Stomach in Dogs

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Gastric Stasis in Dogs


When the stomach is interrupted in its normal operation, a condition called stasis can result. Stasis is when the stomach slows its contractions, and may even stop working altogether. This leads to bloating and build-up of gas in the stomach, which can be an uncomfortable condition for an animal. Interruptions in the working of the stomach of a dog can be brought on by several conditions.


Symptoms and Types


The main symptoms of stasis in dogs are:


  • Pain in the stomach (abdomen)
  • Bloating (distension)
  • Rumbling noises from the stomach (borborhygmus)
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss




When movement (motility) of the stomach slows or stops, there are many things to consider as possible causes. Problems with the stomach itself and its ability to contract are rare causes of stasis, but do occur. These types of problems are uncommon in young animals.


The signs and symptoms of stasis are usually the result of an underlying problem that causes the stomach to stop working. Such problems may include:


  • Stomach ulcers
  • Cancer of the stomach
  • Medications
  • Stress, pain, or trauma
  • Infection of the stomach or intestines (gastritis; enteritis)
  • Obstructions or blockages in the stomach or intestine
  • Surgery affecting the intestine or stomach
  • Metabolic disorders of the body (anemia, hypothyroidism, acidosis)
  • Distention and flipping of stomach (gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome or GDV)
  • Enlarged esophagus (megaesophagus)




Your veterinarian will perform routine tests to rule out any potential cause of vomiting. Basic tests include a physical exam, complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry profile, urinalysis, fecal examination and X-rays. If necessary, a special imaging technique called a contrast study may be used. This study will involve giving the dog an oral dose of liquid material (barium) that shows up on X-rays. Films are taken at various stages to examine the passage of the barium through the body.


Specialized tests may be necessary if routine and less invasive examinations do not point to the problem. In some cases, a flexible scope with a camera (endoscope) may be used to examine the stomach and intestine. This test requires that the animal be placed under anesthesia. Small samples of tissue (biopsy) may be taken for testing through the use of the scope. These samples will help rule out serious conditions in the stomach such as cancer.



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