Digestive Disorders in Dogs

Dog digestive disorders may be genetic and due to food intolerance or may be acute and caused by various factors. Digestive disorders in dogs manifest through vomiting and diarrhea or flatulence. It’s essential to get a diagnosis and treatment, if needed. Some digestive issues may resolve without treatment.

Causes of Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders are frequently caused by an ingredient ingested by the dog, which will lead to an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. The ingestion of a foreign object may also cause digestive disorders such as constipation and may be serious if the object injures the lining of the stomach or causes an intestinal occlusion. Digestive disorders may also be caused by the followings:

  • Infectious agents
  • A sudden transition to a different diet
  • Infection of the pancreas
  • Tumors in the digestive tract
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Parasites
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Ingestion of toxic materials

Symptoms of Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders manifest through a series of symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas or flatulence
  • Bloating

There may be additional symptoms, which vary according to the cause of the digestive problems. For instance, the dog may have worms in the feces, if he is affected by intestinal parasites. Other possible symptoms may include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Black tarry stool
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Blood in the vomit or stool

Diagnosing Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders can be diagnosed and typically, the vet will perform a fecal matter examination. Further tests can be also needed to find possible causes of the digestive issues. The tests may vary from a complete blood count to detect infections to a biopsy, necessary to establish the nature of a stomach tumor.

Treatment Options for Dogs with Digestive Disorders

Treatment may only be required in some cases, depending on the causes of the digestive disorder. If the dog has eaten an ingredient causing digestive issues, he may not need any treatment. A day of fasting and making sure to remove the culprit ingredient from the dog’s diet can help the pet. Fiber supplements may be recommended in some cases. The ingestion of a foreign object will require surgery or eliminating the object from the digestive tract. Should the dog be affected by intestinal parasites, the best course of treatment will consist of dewormers. Other treatment options include:

  • Antibiotic treatment for bacterial stomach infections
  • Antifungal drugs, if the stomach infection is caused by fungi
  • Activated charcoal administration for dogs that have ingested toxic materials
  • Changes in diet, for gastric ulcers
  • Surgical excision, if a tumor is present, followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Preventing Digestive Disorders in Dogs

Digestive disorders may be prevented in some cases:

  • Make sure your dog eats meals that contain ingredients your dog tolerates
  • Administer preventive dewormers
  • Keep poisonous ingredients away from the dog (e.g. rat poison, chocolate, prescription drugs, toxic plants)

Whenever you notice a change in the dog’s behavior and you suspect digestive disorders, you should check with your vet.