Q: My nine month old puppy is suffering from acid reflux. Apparently I’ve been told that canine acid reflux cannot be cured and can only be managed via his diet. My puppy is currently on a fish meal kibble diet, with occasional cooked food such as blanched chicken breast meat and vegetables; may I know if this is appropriate? As he’s still a growing boy, he eats quite a lot; are there other types of food I can feed him to keep his meals interesting as well as healthy? I’ve also heard that Manuka honey may help, is this true? If so, how should I go about administering this? Thank you!

A:  Acid reflux is a curable condition.  However, the condition is usually rare and often associated with food intolerance, which would clear up once the offending food has been removed and changed.

There is another condition in puppies which causes them to vomit shortly after eating.  This is not canine acid reflux but due to a disease affecting the nerves to the oesophagus, causing the oesophagus to balloon after swallowing food.  The food just sits in the enlarged portion of the oesophagus and slowly trickles into the stomach over a few hours.  Any irritation or sudden movements will cause the dog to vomit the undigested food from the oesophagus.

Oesophageal dilatation in young animals can be diagnosed through barium contrast studies. 

True canine acid reflux like humans can be easily treated by trying different hypoallergenic blend diets and the addition of half to 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with each meal. Proprietary human acid reflux preparation like Gaviscon™ can be administered without side effects.

The puppy’s diet seems adequate but it is important that he is getting calcium, other minerals and multi-vitamins while it is growing.  Manuka honey like neem oil and tea tree oil has developed a reputation similar to tiger balm with many unsubstantiated claims almost like holy water.  While there is no harm in feeding Manuka honey, it is not a curative and proper veterinary advice and diagnosis should be sought for I feel the current problem may not be that simple.