What should I feed a cat who has GERD and is there anything else I can give to relieve the acid reflux?

Original Question: My cat has been diagnosed with Gerd. What is the best food option for him and what else should he be taking to reduce his discomfort from acid reflux? This occurred after a dental cleaning. -

What should I feed a cat who has GERD and is there anything else I can give to relieve the acid reflux? Mar 1, 2018

Hi Kelli,

Thanks for your question.

I’m sorry to hear about this. My first comment is that I’m surprised that this started after dentistry. In 13 years I have never seen an example of this. I would be curious about how the diagnosis has been made. If radiographs have not been taken, I would recommend that you do so with your veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis, along with blood work.

When we perform a dental cleaning, we use a hard plastic tube called in endotracheal tubes that we put down the trachea. The trachea is the tube that brings air to the lungs. Therefore, placing and removing this tube should not cause trauma to the esophagus which is the tube that leads to the stomach.  So you can understand why I think it’s odd that you have this problem after a dentistry.  So again I would recommend confirming the diagnosis, even if it means getting a second opinion.

Here are some suggestions if this is truly a case of gastroesophageal reflux disorder (also known as heartburn and Gerd). There are a few medications that are recommended to use.  These are:

1. Omeprazole; which decreases the acidity of the stomach (there are other antacid medications as well such as Cimetidine and Famotidine that can be used).

2. Cisapride; which increases the mobility of the digestive tract immediately following the stomach.

3. Metoclopramide; which tightens the esophageal sphincter and prevents acid from rising into the esophagus from the stomach.  It also increases the motility of the digestive tract, however in an uncoordinated way.

If the condition is serious enough, a veterinarian can choose to start on all three of these medications at the same time. Then over time, each medication is discontinued one at a time. Starting with the Metoclopramide, then the Cisapride, and lastly the Omeprazole.

Other things that may help the condition as well are: 

1. Feeding your cat from a plate of food that is elevated up to head level (for example, you can place a plate of food on top of a shoebox).

2. Feeding a diet higher in bulky fibre known to be formulated to aid gastrointestinal disorders. Any veterinarian can recommend many of these that are currently on the market.

Thanks again for your question and good luck with this.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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