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Common Dog Digestive Problems

12 min read
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Your dog’s digestive system can normally look after itself, as long as it is getting the right food and nutrition. But even with your care it can sometimes encounter unexpected problems.

Your dog loves the nutritious food and occasional treats you give them – a great meal time is all part of their fun and active lifestyle! When their food is such a source of excitement for them and a pleasure for you, it can be easy to forget about keeping an eye on their digestive health.

But there’s no need to worry – many of these problems are easily solved through a change in diet.

Keep reading to find out about keeping your dog’s digestive health in order, and common problems to look out for.

 

General dog digestive health

Your dog’s digestive system is fairly hardy (just think what they’d eat if they were allowed!), but it’s a good idea to monitor their appetite anyway. As well as what you feed them, remember that your family and friends naturally love giving your dog a bit of extra fuss, attention and treats too!

Here are some general tips for feeding your dog:

  • Your dog will enjoy a good quality, complete dog food most, as not only will it have the right balance of nutrients, a good level of palatability will ensure they really enjoy it.
  • Tempting as it is, adding human food to a nutritionally complete and balanced commercial dog food can cause digestive problems in dogs.
  • Your dog probably knows all kinds of tricks to persuade you to give them table scraps! Firmly but kindly ignore ‘begging behaviour’ for additional food.
  • When your dog is focused on getting table scraps, give lots of hugs, praise and playtime instead, which you’re both able to enjoy!
  • It’s best to feed your dog at regular scheduled times. Use the correct amount of food to maintain your dog’s optimum body condition so they stay in tip-top shape.

To find out more, check out our guide to feeding adult dogs.

 

General causes of digestive disorders in dogs

In an ideal world our dogs don’t have any problems with their digestive systems, but of course you can’t always prevent illness.

senior chocolate labrador lying next to food bowls

Digestive (gastrointestinal) disorders generally impair your dog’s ability to digest and absorb all those great nutrients that keep them healthy. So what are some of the factors that could cause digestive disorders in dogs?

  • Abrupt change in diet
  • Trauma
  • Indiscretionary eating
  • Toxins
  • Allergies
  • Foreign objects
  • Medications
  • Infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites

With so many potential causes, diagnosing digestive problems in dogs can often be a difficult challenge even for your vet! To complicate matters further, the disorder could originate in any part of your dog’s digestive system, from the mouth to the stomach, liver, pancreas and intestinal tract. There are, however, things you can look out for to make sure your dog gets the promptest veterinary treatment.

 

Signs of dog digestive problems to look out for

If your dog’s appetite changes, or they become a fussy eater, it may be normal – dogs can sometimes be unpredictable, after all! However, it could also indicate an underlying medical problem, so if you are worried about their health make sure you seek veterinary advice. If you don’t think the problem is to do with their digestive system, you can read about other unusual dog symptoms to look out for instead.

Digestive problems in dogs are wide-ranging and can include symptoms such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Excess gas or flatulence
  • Straining when passing stools
  • Blood or mucus in the stools

If your dog is showing any of these signs it could be an indicator of dog digestive health problems such as gastroenteritis, colitis, stress diarrhoea, or constipation. But what are these illnesses, and what can you do to help your dog?

vet checking puppy's stomach

However, as more serious conditions could result in weight loss, dehydration and debilitation, you should see your vet with any concerns – they can easily advise you and determine the appropriate treatment for your dog.

In all, with the right treatment, they’ll be back on their paws in no time!

Next, find out how to spot the signs of sensitive digestion in dogs.

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