Gastrointestinal Problems in Dogs

Many dogs are quite likely to suffer from a variety of gastrointestinal problems. These problems are oftentimes due to a minor problem that will pass quickly. Such problems include eating a relatively harmless non-food item or certain foods that disagree with your pet's system. However, it's important to realize that some types of gastrointestinal problems that dogs face are actually very serious and may even be fatal if left unattended. Read on for a brief overview of gastrointestinal problems in your pet, including types, symptoms, and treatments.

Types of Gastrointestinal Problems

Some of the most common gastrointestinal problems that your pet is likely to face include those that have to do with his inability to digest certain items that he eats. He may contract colitis, which is a mild irritation of the gut and digestive tract that tends to pass on its own but which may require altered diets and other treatments. Another common gastrointestinal problem is irritable bowel syndrome, oftentimes abbreviated as IBS. This is a recurring condition in which your pet's intestines are not able to process food properly, and the result is painful and frequent bouts of diarrhea and stomach upset.

Ulcers are lesions that develop inside the stomach and elsewhere in the digestive tract as well. Without treatment, they can be continually damaged and exacerbated by stomach acids, making it unlikely that they'll go away on their own. There are also more serious gastrointestinal problems that your pet can develop, including cancerous growths and other related issues.

Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Problems

The symptoms of a gastrointestinal problem will vary slightly according to your dog's health condition and the severity of the problem itself. However, they tend to have similar types of symptoms. These usually include some or all of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Distended abdomen
  • Sensitivity to the touch
  • Difficulty lying down or standing up
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Lethargy
  • Aggressive behaviors

If you notice these or any other symptoms that you think may be related to a problem with your dog's bowels or gastrointestinal tract, take note of the symptoms that you see and bring your dog in to the vet as quickly as possible. Due to the serious nature of some of the potential causes of these symptoms, it's important that you diagnose his problem right away.

Treating Gastrointestinal Problems

Treatment for gastrointestinal problems varies according to the nature of the problem itself. Some of these problems are bacteria related and can be treated with a dose of antibiotics. In other cases, fluid and electrolyte therapy will help to restore stability to your pet's system while you wait for a virus or mildly harmful item that was ingested to pass through your pet's system. In the case of cancers and more serious conditions, treatment is typically much more involved and requires biopsies, blood tests, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, and more. One of the most common treatments for gastrointestinal problems in general is a change in diet.