Gastric Lavage Procedure in Dogs

Gastric lavage is an emergency procedure that involves removing contents from the stomach. This treatment is commonly referred to as “pumping the stomach” as fluids are pumped into the stomach and back out of the dog.

Gastric lavage is used when emesis, or vomiting, is unable to be performed; or when emesis is unsuccessful in removing the suspected toxin. Gastric lavage for dogs is highly effective at removing a toxin from the stomach before the body ingests the substance.

For this procedure, your dog will need to be anesthetized. To ensure your pet can handle gastric lavage safely, your Vet will complete an initial physical exam and will recommend blood work, a urinalysis, an x-ray and/or an ultrasound. These tests will allow for your dog to get the best care possible; the procedure is necessary and will ensure the treatment at hand goes smoothly. If your pet is found to have ingested a foreign object such as a toy, bone or stick, then gastric lavage is not indicated and surgery may be warranted.

Gastric Lavage Procedure in Dogs

Unconscious pets or ones that have ingested a large quantity of a toxic substance or in cases of gastric dilation volvus (twisted stomach) may benefit from a gastric lavage procedure.

So that pet owners know what goes on during a gastric lavage procedure, it is important to know the following information:

  • After the initial exam and lab work is completed, an IV (intravenous; into the vein) catheter will be placed in one of the front limbs. An IV catheter will allow your pet to get fluid therapy and have drugs administered intravenously before, during and after the procedure.
  • The dog will be given several injections including an anti-emetic, a sedative and another medication to reduce their anxiety. After these drugs have taken effect, an anesthetic induction agent will be given to render your pet unconscious. At this point, your pet will be intubated with an endotracheal tube, which will allow the anesthetist to provide your pet with oxygen and a gas anesthetic.
  • Your pets’ vital signs will be closely monitored during the procedure to ensure they are safe and stable.
  • To commence the gastric lavage, your dog will be placed either on their stomach or right side. The orogastric tube will be measured from their nose to their last rib to ensure that it is the appropriate length and size. This will confirm that the tube does not descend deeper into the digestive tract. The tube length is marked and cut for a customized fit specifically for your dog.
  • The orogastric tube is lubricated before being passed down the esophagus and into the stomach, to ensure irritation of the mouth, throat and stomach is kept to a minimum.
  • The doctor or technician will confirm they properly placed the orogastric tube properly through palpation and simultaneous auscultation of the stomach.
  • Warm sterile water or saline will then be infused down a funnel and into the orogastric tube. Once the fluid has entered the stomach, the exposed end of the orogastric tube will be connected to a suction unit or be allowed to drain from your pet using gravity into a bucket on the floor.
  • Your dog will continue to have more fluids administered and allowed to pour out until the veterinarian feels that stomach has been lavaged (washed) effectively.
  • Prior to removing the orogastric tube, activated charcoal will be passed through the tube and into the stomach. Activated charcoal will bind to any toxic substances left behind that were not successfully removed by the first part of the gastric lavage procedure.
  • After the activated charcoal has been allowed to sit in your pets’ stomach for 5-15 minutes, the gastric lavage process will once again take place to remove any toxins captured by the activated charcoal.
  • The orogastric tube will be plugged off and removed from your dog. This ensures none of the fluid or remaining toxin(s) in the tube are able to pass back down into the stomach.
  • Your dog will then be extubated, removing the endotracheal tube, when the Veterinarian or technician deems it safe to do so.
  • During recovery, your dog will be closely monitored to ensure they are waking up from the procedure as anticipated.

Side Effects of Gastric Lavage in Dogs

Gastric Lavage

As stated previously, this procedure does require the patient to undergo anesthesia, which is the chief concern for most pet owners. Your pet may experience irritation in their mouth, throat and stomach from the various tubes needed for the gastric lavage. Gastric lavage also poses risk for respiratory effects such as aspiration pneumonia from the fluids being pumped in and out of the stomach or hypoxia (low oxygen levels) if the endotracheal tube (breathing tube) is not properly inflated or placed.

Gastric Lavage Recovery and Prevention

After the gastric lavage procedure has been completed, your pet will go home the same day or may stay overnight depending on if they are experiencing any adverse side effects from the toxin or anesthesia. Rest assure, this procedure is quite safe, and complications are very rare.To stave off the need for a gastric lavage procedure, always keep medications, hazardous food and other deadly toxins away from your pet to prevent accidental overdose or ingestion. should be used for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical advice. Always consult veterinarian’s advice. The information provided here is not a substitute for professional medical advice. The authors, editors, producers or sponsors shall have no liability, obligation, or responsibility to any person or entity for any loss, damage or adverse consequences alleged to have happened directly or indirectly as a result of material on this site. Please consult with your veterinarian for all matters related to your pet’s health.
Copyright © 2021