Choosing the Right Vet for Your Pet

So, Your Cat Has Acid Reflux

If your vet has informed you that your cat's symptoms of weight loss, pain during swallowing, and spitting up food are due to acid reflux, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind. Learning a but more about the causes and treatments for this condition will ensure you can manage your cat's condition properly.

What is acid reflux?

You may have heard of acid reflux in humans -- it's the same thing in cats. It's a condition in which the ring of muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach, known as the esophageal sphincter, does not close properly. This allows the stomach acid to travel back up into the esophagus, where it causes pain and a burning sensation that may make it difficult for your cat to eat.

What causes acid reflux?

There are several possible causes of acid reflux in cats. Some cats are simply born with weak esophageal sphincters and eventually develop the condition as they age. Other cats develop the condition as a side effect of anesthesia or other medications, and still others develop it as a side effect of chronic vomiting associated with another ailment or a poor diet. You cannot completely protect a cat from ever developing this illness, but you can reduce the risk by ensuring that you feed a vet-approved cat food and use medications only as directed by your vet.

How is acid reflux treated?

The treatment your vet will recommend will depend on the severity of your cat's acid reflux condition. Minor cases can be treated at home. You will likely be provided with a special food to give your cat. This food will be low in fat, since excess fat stimulates the production of stomach acid and can make the reflux worse. Likely, your vet will recommend giving your cat several small meals per day rather than one or two large ones, as this can keep gastric secretions to a minimum. As your cat adapts to this new feeding routine, his or her symptoms should subside.

For more severe cases of acid reflux, your vet may recommend a medication in addition to dietary changes. Medications that strengthen the esophageal sphincter and reduce stomach acid production are commonly used. Do not give your cat a human medication without approval of your vet -- you may make matters worse.

Acid reflux can make your cat feel pretty miserable but it is a highly treatable condition. Follow your vet's instructions for changing your cat's diet and administering meds, and your furry friend should soon be feeling like himself again.

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