Dog Stomach Problems

With many possible causes of dog stomach problems, it is critical to pay attention to your dog's normal habits. Some diseases and disorders require urgent treatment to prevent death or serious complications. Knowing common symptoms is key to knowing if your dog's stomach troubles are serious.

Digestive Issues in Dogs

Many commercial dog food ingredients upset a dog's stomach. Most dog stomach problems link directly to an ingredient that causes a food allergy. Food allergies in dogs tend to appear between two and six years of age, though there is no firm rule on this. Some older dogs suddenly develop food allergies to ingredients they've eaten for years.

Ingredients like eggs, soy, wheat gluten or cornmeal affect many dogs, causing itchy skin rashes, nausea, diarrhea or a stomachache. Switching to a high quality food and offering fresh water throughout the day is often enough to stop this digestive upset.

The Danger of Gastric Distention

Dog breeds with large chest are at risk for gastric distention a dangerous dog stomach problem. Also known as Dog Bloat or GDV, the condition can kill a dog if not treated immediately.

With gastric distention, a dog wolfs his meal quickly causing a large intake of air. The dog may also drink exceedingly large amounts of water and then go run around because the food energized him. He's eaten too much, so the normal body response would be to vomit the excess.

With the exercise, the stomach ends up twisting causing a blockage that prevents the food from reaching the esophagus. Blood flow to the spleen is restricted causing stomach tissue to die. As the stomach tissue dies and toxins build up, there is also a risk of having the stomach rupture. The only relief at this point is surgery.

Stomach Ulcers in a Dog

Most stomach ulcers occur when a dog is given aspirin or NSAID pain relievers. They can also occur from injury or stress.

Symptoms of ulcer-related dog stomach problems include:

  • Anemia

  • Appetite changes

  • Blood in stool or vomit

  • Lethargy

  • Vomiting

If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog as having ulcers, you should stop any pain reliever. Reduce any stress in the dog's life. Offer the dog smaller meals throughout the day.

There are herbal supplements that help restore a dog's stomach lining. Licorice root is the most common and a flavor that most dogs love.

When Tumors Cause Dog Stomach Problems

Stomach cancer isn't common in dogs, only about one percent of cancer cases are stomach cancer, but cancerous tumors can occur. The main symptom is vomiting, but your dog may also have noticeable behavior changes and show some aggression when you try to touch his abdomen or sides.

A veterinarian will run blood tests and perform an ultrasound to see if your dog has a tumor. Dog stomach cancer is best treated through surgical removal of the tumor and all surrounding tissue. Often, the cancer spreads to other organs or the lymph nodes severely decreasing the life span for a dog with stomach cancer.