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Digestive Problems in Dogs

While occasional digestive problems are considered normal in dogs, recurrent episodes could be an indication of some serious health problem.
DogAppy Staff
Diarrhea and vomiting are among the most common symptoms of digestive problems in dogs. Occasional vomiting or diarrhea is normal, but persistent or severe symptoms may indicate a serious underlying cause. In such circumstances, you have to take your dog to a vet, for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms and Causes
In case of dogs, the most common symptoms of digestive problems are vomiting, diarrhea, or both. Other symptoms include abdominal discomfort, straining, passing blood or mucus, flatulence, aversion to food, constipation, and fatigue. While most of these symptoms are due to digestive problems, other medical conditions, like cancer, may also cause such symptoms. In general, the most common causes of canine digestive problems are eating too much, sudden change in diet, eating inappropriate foods, food allergies, food poisoning, hairball in the digestive system, and reactions to medication.
  • A sudden change in a dog's diet is not advisable, as it may affect its digestive system. You can make them adjust to a new food item, by introducing it in very small amounts. Increase the quantity gradually.
  • Likewise, be consistent in feeding your dog. Never over feed them.
  • Any foreign object stuck in the dog's system can cause regurgitation of the food, before it reaches the stomach. So, it is always better to keep them away from things, like small toys, strings, and other materials that can be swallowed easily.
  • As in case of humans, dogs too have food allergies. Some dogs may develop allergic reactions, like vomiting, after consuming foods, like soy and corn.
  • It is also important to note that all food items consumed by humans are not good for dogs. For example, feeding a dog with chocolate can cause digestive problems in the animal. Some food items can be toxic for dogs.
  • You have to keep a tab on the dog's diet. They have the habit of eating anything that come their way. Dogs should not consume spicy and salty foods, chocolate, and most of the processed foods.
  • Dogs also tend to ingest their body hair while cleaning and licking themselves. This hair can ball up in their digestive tract, and lead to blockage, resulting in constipation.
Diseases that Cause Digestive Problems in Dogs
Apart from the eating habits and other similar factors, some medical conditions can also cause digestive problems in dogs. Diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease, pancreas disorders, parasitic infections of the digestive tract, liver disorders, rectal obstructions, and bloating, are some of them.
  • A bloat or gastric torsion in dogs can be a life-threatening condition, which demands immediate medical attention. The symptoms of bloat include vomiting, weakness, or sudden collapse. The most common cause for this condition is swallowing of excess air, which causes the stomach to rotate, resulting in blockage of blood supply.
  • Persistent and chronic diarrhea can be due to inflammatory bowel disease, which also causes weight loss and undernourishment in dogs. This condition is commonly seen in German Shepherds. In such cases, prompt medical attention is very necessary.
  • Pancreatic disorders can also lead to digestive problems in dogs. Overproduction or underproduction of pancreatic enzymes can cause persistent diarrhea. Such dogs may eat heavily, but lose weight.
  • Liver disorders can also cause vomiting and other symptoms, like fatigue, weight loss, and frequent urination. While treatment is unavoidable in most cases, some may require surgery.
  • Some dogs may have obstructions in the rectum, which can cause constipation or thin, ribbon-like stools. Some of the obstructions are treated with medicines, while some others are removed through surgery.
  • Parasites, like roundworms and hookworms, may cause digestive problems in dogs. Such parasites may cause indigestion, gas, and diarrhea. In such cases, you have to consult a vet, and have your dog dewormed.
Some of these causes can be remedied with a controlled diet, increased water intake, and consumption of fiber-rich foods. If the symptoms do not subside within a few days, you have to consult a vet for treatment. It is always better to approach your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.