Gastroduodenal Ulceration in Canine Liver Disease

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is currently recruiting dogs with liver disease for a research study. The study will examine the prevalence of ulcers and other lesions in the esophagus, stomach and intestine in dogs with liver disease. We will also examine specific characteristics (eg. bloodwork, ultrasound) of the dogs in the study to determine if we can predict the presence of ulcers.

  • Inclusion Criteria: 
    1. Dogs with a clinical suspicion of congenital or acquired liver disease warranting a liver biopsy or advanced imaging (CT scan), or dogs with a confirmed liver shunt undergoing a correction procedure.
    2. Dogs have no contraindications to receiving an endoscopy procedure while under anesthesia for procedure in (1)
  • Exclusion Criteria: Dog has received non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), steroids (eg. prednisone) or acid suppressant medications within the 2 weeks prior to the study visit.
  • Procedures: Dogs will be recruited during their visit to the Small Animal Hospital. The dog will undergo anesthesia for the biopsy, CT scan, or liver shunt correction procedure as directed by the dog’s attending clinician. Either before or after the procedure, an endoscopy evaluating the esophagus, stomach, and initial part of the small intestine will be performed under the same anesthesia to document the present of ulcers or other lesions. The endoscopy will take about 15 minutes to complete. The dog’s medical record will also be evaluated for the results of bloodwork, other imaging (eg. ultrasound), and results of biopsies if indicated.
  • Cost: The study will cover the cost of the endoscopy and the anesthesia time associated with the endoscopy. All other costs (including the biopsy/CT scan/other procedure and associated anesthesia time) will be the responsibility of the client.
  • Contact:  If you are interested in this study, your pet must be visiting the UF Small Animal Hospital and receiving one of the procedures listed above. To schedule an appointment for evaluation for liver disease, please call the Small Animal Hospital at 352-392-2235. If you would like more information about the study before your dog’s appointment, please email
  • PI: Dr. Kirsten Cooke, DACVIM


Dogs are commonly affected by a variety of types of liver disease. Liver disease is suspected to cause an increased risk of ulcers in the stomach and intestine of dogs, but studies evaluating this in dogs are limited. Undetected and untreated ulcers can cause pain, bleeding, and potentially death. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of ulcers and other lesions in the esophagus, stomach, and intestine of dogs with various types of liver disease. To do this, we will look at the esophagus, stomach, and intestine with a special camera and light system (endoscope) while the dog is already under anesthesia for another procedure. We will also examine specific characteristics of the dogs in the study, such as changes on bloodwork or ultrasound images, to determine if we can predict the presence of ulcers. The knowledge gained from this study can be used to allow veterinarians to better formulate plans to treat or prevent ulcers in at- risk dogs, and improve the quality of care for dogs with liver disease.