Digestive Disorders In Dogs
Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes
Summary: In this blog, we learn all about digestive disorders in dogs! We’ll learn what the most common stomach disorders in dogs are, when to seek professional advice, and how to identify digestive problems in dogs…
The Signs Of Digestive Problems In Dogs
Signs your dog may be experiencing digestive problems include:
- Disinterest in food
- Constipation (not pooping)
- Straining when pooping
- Excessive gas
- Gurgling stomach
- Bloody stools
- Stools containing mucus
- Changes in poop colour
- Abdominal pain (whining, pacing and adopting abnormal postures to try and relieve discomfort)
If your dog is experiencing any of these issues, then it’s likely they’re feeling very uncomfortable and need assistance. But, what are the potential reasons behind digestive problems in dogs?
The Causes Of Digestive Disorders In Dogs
Digestive disorders in dogs disturb the ability to process and absorb food and the nutrients within it. Here are a few things that can trigger stomach disorders in dogs…
- Physical trauma
- Stress and emotional trauma
- Food allergies
- Consuming a non-food item
- Certain medications
- A sudden change to their diet
- Bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic infections
- Disordered eating (scoffing, over-eating, under-eating)
Because there are so many potential causes of digestive disorders in dogs, and the fact that the digestive system is so big (mouth, oesophagus, stomach, intestines, colon etc.) proper diagnosis can pose a challenge.
The sooner you act on spotting the signs, the sooner Fido can be on the road to recovery! Always get anything you’re unsure of checked over by a vet.
What Stomach Disorders In Dogs Could My Dog’s Be?
If your dog is displaying symptoms of digestive discomfort, there are several conditions it could be. Some of the most common digestive disorders in dogs include:
This condition usually displays in diarrhoea and may also be accompanied by vomiting. This digestive disorder occurs usually after consuming off-food or something a little unsavoury and causes the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) to become inflamed. A vet will need to diagnose this and can supply medication to stop the vomiting and loose tummy. They may also suggest adopting a bland diet of chicken and rice until they’ve recovered.
Colitis is when the colon becomes inflamed and this is usually caused by parasitic, bacterial, viral or fungal infections, food allergies or eating a non-food item(s). Colitis usually presents in bloody or mucus-covered poop, diarrhoea and/or frequently passing small stools. Your vet will need to diagnose colitis and they will often offer you medication, maybe even dietary supplements if it’s an allergy, to soothe and control the condition.
If your dog is straining to poop, not pooping at all or passing hard, small stools then it’s likely they’re constipated. This could be because they have an enlarged prostate, are dehydrated or not eating enough fibre in their diet. It can sometimes be a sign of tumour growth though, so it’s always worth getting them checked over by the vet if they seem constipated.
Anxiety and stress, just like in humans, can cause the fight or flight response in dogs - which may induce diarrhoea. Stress triggers can include (but aren’t limited to) loud noises, being separated from you, changes in their household, the introduction of a new pet or family member or being adopted into a new home themselves. You can obtain calming aids that may help your pup from your vet or from most reputable pet brands (make sure you research them thoroughly before purchasing though). Your vet may even suggest medication or a probiotic supplement to help boost your dog’s gut health and prevent their physical stress response if it’s happening frequently.
How To Prevent Digestive Disorders In Dogs
There are many ways you can help manage your dog’s digestive problems.
Discourage disordered eating; read our blog on Dog Eating Disorders here and how to help your dog get over particular disordered eating habits.
Keep on top of preventative parasitic treatments and vaccinations; regular flea and worm prevention control protects both your dog and others they come into contact with from contracting these annoying parasites that can cause digestive disorders in dogs. If they’re not already receiving regular anti-parasitic treatments, it’s time to check in with your vet to get your beloved pet into the most suitable flea and parasite prevention routine, and ask your vet if they’re up to date on all their vaccinations.
Introduce new food gradually; changing your dog’s food brand suddenly can be detrimental to your dog’s stomach and cause diarrhoea and severe tummy upset. Read our blog on How To Change Your Dog’s Food gradually to avoid this.
Provide more fibre; many dogs don’t get enough fibre in their diets. If a dog has gastrointestinal trouble, a good boost of fibre may be greatly beneficial to their gut health and help prevent digestive disorders in dogs from occurring. Try adding cut up pieces of cucumber, blueberries, or cooked sweet potato to their bowl, particularly if they’re on a kibble diet, or treat them with pieces of carrot instead of traditional biscuit rewards. If your dog suffers with constipation and they’re on a kibble diet, it may be worth considering moving them to moist, meat-based food to help boost their hydration levels too. Remember, always switch a dog’s food gradually!
Exercise them the amount they need; making sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise every day is great for reducing stress, keeping their blood flow up and thus, their digestive rhythm regular. Check out our handy guide on how much your dog should be being exercised below. If you’re still unsure, consult with your vet.
"Common Dog Digestive Problems" Purina https://www.purina.co.uk/articles/dogs/health/digestion/digestive-problems
Author Rubin, Stanly I. DVM, MS, DACVIM "Introduction To Digestive Disorders Of Dogs" MSD Manual Veterinary Manual https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/introduction-to-digestive-disorders-of-dogs