Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Illnesses in Dogs

Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Illnesses in Dogs

Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Fumipets

Study Indicates a Frequent Connection Between Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Illnesses in Dogs


Do you notice your furry friend struggling to breathe, especially during mealtime? It turns out that there might be a deeper connection between respiratory issues and gastrointestinal problems in dogs than we previously thought.

New research conducted by the University of Missouri reveals a striking correlation between respiratory disease and digestive tract abnormalities in dogs.

In fact, approximately 75% of dogs participating in a swallowing study, who also had respiratory disease, were found to have one or more digestive tract abnormalities. This groundbreaking study sheds light on the intricate relationship between these two health concerns, an area of investigation that has spanned a decade.

The Hidden Connection

According to Dr. Carol Reinero, a professor at Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the study’s author, “Dogs that come into our clinic with signs of respiratory disease, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, may often have issues in their upper aero-digestive tract.”

This complex region is where the pathways for breathing and swallowing intersect. In a healthy dog, these functions are well-coordinated, but when this harmony is disrupted, it can lead to various health problems, including swallowing air or inhaling food or water into the lungs.

Key Findings

The study involved 45 dogs displaying clinical signs of respiratory issues but without gastrointestinal symptoms. An additional 15 healthy dogs served as a control group. Researchers used video X-rays during eating and drinking to identify abnormalities in swallowing and the movement of material in the stomach.

The results revealed that dogs with respiratory disease were significantly more likely to experience problems such as inhaling food or fluids into the lungs, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and difficulty swallowing compared to the control group.

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Implications for Dog Owners and Clinicians

Based on these findings, it is crucial for dog owners and clinicians to consider the possibility of digestive issues in dogs with respiratory diseases, even if they do not display overt swallowing difficulties.

Identifying and closely monitoring these interconnected health concerns can significantly improve the quality of life for affected dogs. Potential interventions include dietary adjustments, alternative water sources, surgical options, and weight management recommendations.

Breed-Specific Considerations

It’s worth noting that certain breeds, like French bulldogs and other flat-faced breeds, are more susceptible to both respiratory and GI issues due to the compact nature of their respiratory tissues. Their unique anatomy can contribute to conditions like reflux and stomach herniation, making careful observation and tailored care essential for these breeds.

In conclusion, this research underscores the importance of holistic veterinary care, where respiratory and gastrointestinal health are considered in tandem. By recognizing the link between these conditions, dog owners and clinicians can take proactive steps to enhance the well-being of their canine companions.

For more details, you can read the full article on U.S. News & World Report.


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