Identifying Common Dog Digestive Issues

Digestive issues are one of the most common health problems in dogs. It’s estimated that nearly 70% of all dogs will have gastrointestinal issues at some point during their lives. Digestive problems can range from mild diarrhea to severe pancreatitis, which can lead to death if left untreated. Fortunately, there are ways to identify and treat these conditions before they become serious health issues for your dog:

How to tell if your dog has a digestive problem

If your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign of digestive problems:

  • Food allergy or intolerance (e.g., lactose intolerance)
  • Pancreatitis, which occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed and swollen due to a blockage in its ducts. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain. If left untreated for too long, pancreatitis can be fatal for your pooch!
  • Gastroenteritis -- inflammation of the stomach lining -- can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs. It's often associated with E-coli infections but may also result from food poisoning or parasites like hookworms entering through the mouth instead of coming out through defecation as is normal for this type of parasite.

What is gastroenteritis and how can I treat it?

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and small intestine. It can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria, parasites, and toxins. The most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in dogs is canine parvovirus (CPV). Other causes include rotavirus, coronavirus, and echinococcosis tapeworms.

Symptoms include vomiting (sometimes with bile), diarrhea (often bloody) fever/lethargy/depression, etc. Dogs with severe cases may have blood in their stool as well as dehydration due to fluid loss through vomiting or diarrhea.

What is pancreatitis and how can I treat it?

Pancreatitis is a condition that causes the pancreas to become inflamed. The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach in dogs and cats, which produces enzymes that help your pet digest food. Pancreatitis can occur when digestive enzymes leak into surrounding tissues, causing damage to them.

The most common cause of pancreatitis in dogs is eating fatty foods or drinking large amounts of alcohol on an empty stomach (which can lead to vomiting). Other possible causes include:

  • Infection with certain parasites such as tapeworms or roundworms;
  • Bacterial infections including salmonella poisoning;
  • Viral infections such as parvovirus;

How to treat diarrhea in dogs and puppies

  • Feed a bland diet. If your dog has diarrhea, it's best to feed him or her a low-fat, low-carbohydrate food. This will help keep his or her digestive system running smoothly while he recovers from the illness.
  • Give probiotics as needed (not all dogs need them). Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your dog's digestive tract and help his body break down food so that it can be absorbed into his bloodstream properly--and they're especially important if he's been taking antibiotics recently! You can find probiotic supplements at most pet stores; just make sure they're specifically made for dogs (and not cats). How much do you give? That depends on how sick your pup is; ask your vet how much is appropriate before giving any supplements at home.
  • Avoid foods high in fat or carbohydrates.
  • Avoid foods high in protein.
  • Avoid foods high in fiber.
  • If vomiting continues for more than 24 hours without relief from meds/feeding changes/etc., call an animal hospital immediately because this may indicate something serious like parvovirus infection which requires hospitalization for treatment

How to tell if your dog has a food allergy and what to do about it

You may have heard that your dog has a food allergy, but what does that mean? Food allergies are caused by the immune system reacting to something in the dog's diet. In some cases, they can be quite serious and require immediate treatment.

Here are some signs of food allergies in dogs:

  • Skin rashes or hives (raised bumps on the skin)
  • Itching around their mouth or paws
  • Diarrhea with blood or mucus in it (not just loose stool)

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately so they can figure out if your pup has an allergic reaction to something he ate.

Digestive issues are common in dogs 

Digestive issues are common in dogs, but they are easy to treat. The most common causes of digestive problems include dietary indiscretion, parasites, and stress. Treatments include dietary changes, medications, and surgery (if the problem is caused by an obstruction). If you don't treat the problem, it can get worse! The most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite; however, there are other signs that may indicate a more serious condition:

  • Vomiting blood - This requires immediate veterinary care! Your dog needs an x-ray or other test to determine what's going on inside its belly before any treatment can begin. It's also important to know if he has eaten anything unusual recently since this could be contributing to his discomfort (e.g., bones from a backyard barbecue).


Digestive issues are common in dogs and puppies, but they're also easy to treat. If you have any concerns about your pet's health, talk to your veterinarian immediately so they can determine if there is a more serious problem at hand or not. By knowing what signs to look out for, you can make sure that your dog gets the right treatment as soon as possible!


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