Diagnosing Digestive Problems in Dogs

Digestive problems in dogs can manifest through vomiting, diarrhea or constipation and may be acute or chronic. The diagnosis of digestive problems can be a long process, but in some cases, the vet may easily establish what affects your dog. The diagnosis can be made by looking at the symptoms and by performing several other tests that will reveal the underlying problem.

Symptoms of Dog Digestive Problems

In addition to vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, a dog with digestive problems may present a suite of other symptoms that will be specific to the underlying condition. See if your pet displays other symptoms. The vet will also perform an overall examination to look for symptoms on the dog’s skin, inside the mouth or other areas of the body that can say something about the dog’s condition.

Also, you should observe the dog’s vomit. Is it clear or it has food traces? Does the vomit contain blood? You should do the same with the dog’s feces. Make sure to wear gloves, to protect yourself, as some diseases may be zoonotic (i.e. intestinal worms).

Stool Sample Testing

A sample of the dog’s stool should be tested, as it can be the fastest way to find the problem. The feces will show if the dog has parasites, an infection or has ingested foods that have caused the digestive problems.

Blood Tests

A complete blood count (CBC) can be performed to find out what affects the dog’s digestive system. Alternatively, the vet will perform just a few blood tests, judging by the symptoms and the suspected disease.

The results of the blood tests will indicate if there is need for further testing.


An endoscopy is a test that is performed using a tiny video camera that will be inserted in the dog’s mouth and digestive system to detect any abnormalities.


A urinalysis can be performed if the vet suspects that the urinary tract is also involved. The urine may also reveal if there is an internal problem or if the dog eliminates substances in excess in the urine.

Bring a urine sample when visiting the vet, which can speed up the testing process.

X-Rays and Ultrasounds

X-rays and ultrasounds will be performed if the vet suspects an abnormal growth that interferes with the digestive process. The dog may be affected by cysts, polyps or tumors.

Cell Biopsy

If the endoscopy, the x-rays or ultrasounds reveal the presence of an abnormal growth, the vet will have to perform a cell biopsy to determine the nature of the growth.

Food Trials

Food trials will be carried out if the vet cannot detect any problem with the dog and suspects food allergies.

If you suspect your pet has a slight indigestion and the symptoms don’t last for more than 24 to 48 hours, you don’t necessarily need to visit the vet. Seek veterinary help if your pet has a digestive problem and there are no obvious reasons you can think of or if your pet vomits or has diarrhea for more than 48 hours.