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How to Solve Dog Digestive Problems

Similar to humans, dogs need a balanced and nutritious diet which is essential for their health and longevity. The right combination of carbs, proteins, vitamins and minerals contributes to a dog's immune system, making them feel good in their skin while having the energy to spare.

The vast majority of people consider their dogs to be precious members of their families, but there are still some owners who treat their dogs as rubbish disposals, feeding them table scraps and other food not appropriate for them.

The sooner you realise how delicate your dog's stomach is, the fewer troubles they will experience. Let's check out what types of digestive problems dogs can have and how you can treat them.

What causes digestive problems in dogs?

While canines can be incredibly resilient, even the smallest amount of food that's perfectly safe for humans like garlic, grapes or chocolate, can disrupt a dog's digestive system and cause various conditions, including inflammation of the intestine, diarrhoea and other disorders. Some stomach conditions are harmless and can be treated at home. On the other hand, there are gastrointestinal disorders that require a veterinarian's treatment and care.

Knowing how to differentiate urgent from non-urgent situations can help your dog heal faster and sometimes save their lives. Here are several common causes that can make your pet experience digestive problems:

  • Parasites
  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Sudden change in diet
  • Worms
  • Excessive consumption of grass
  • Chocolate
  • Bloat

How to know if your dog needs a vet's help?

While home remedies are great for canines with mild digestive problems, it's important to understand that serious underlying causes for their upset stomach demand immediate veterinarian care.

If you notice some of the following symptoms like fever, vomiting, drooling, blood in stool  and irregular eating patterns, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. 

Owner Asking Veterinarian to Examine

The most common dog gastro symptoms and issues

Canines can have a wide range of digestive issues, some of which are quite common. Here is the list of common gastro symptoms in dogs you should get familiar with!

Dog vomiting

We all know how vomiting works; you basically empty your stomach through the mouth and the same goes for dogs. Several factors can cause your pet to vomit, including eating something spoiled or toxic, gastrointestinal infections or dietary changes. Sometimes canines may vomit due to quick eating or ingesting too much food or water and it doesn't have to be related to any health issue. Pay particular attention to dogs vomiting white foam because they may require immediate veterinary care.

Diarrhoea 

Diarrhoea affects dogs quite often and can be caused by dietary changes, infections, allergies or even stress. Diarrhoea can be acute or chronic and ranges from mild to severe. Canines with diarrhoea may have frequent bowel movements that are watery and loose and may experience bloating, gas and abdominal cramping. Sometimes you may use over-the-counter medications to stop diarrhoea in dogs but most of the time your pet will require veterinarian help.

Golden Labrador pooping on a walk

Constipation

Besides dog vomit and diarrhoea, constipation is a common digestive issue in canines. This happens when your pet has difficulty passing stools, which can be caused by dehydration, dietary issues or other health problems. Dogs with constipation may strain when defecating and their stools may be hard and dry. They may also experience lethargy, loss of appetite and abdominal discomfort.

Dogs gastroenteritis

Canines can be prone to viral or bacterial infections that tend to provoke digestive issues, such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal pain. Dog's gastroenteritis can be caused by ingesting contaminated food or water, poisoning, kidney, pancreatic or liver disease. Common gastrointestinal infections in dogs include parvovirus, coronavirus and salmonella.

Dog Anatomy

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD is a condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract, which can lead to weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea. IBD is believed to be caused by an abnormal immune response to the normal bacteria in the gut and can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Canines with IBD may require long-term management of their symptoms with medication, veterinary treatment and dietary changes.

Pancreatitis

This condition refers to the inflammation of the pancreas, which causes a dog's digestive system to become upset. Many factors can cause pancreatitis, including certain medications, obesity, hypothyroidism and a high-fat diet. Canines with pancreatitis may require intensive treatment, such as pain management, intravenous fluids and a stay at the vet's clinic.

Food allergies

Dogs can develop allergies to certain foods, leading to skin irritations, vomiting and diarrhoea. Common allergens in dog food include corn, wheat, chicken and beef. Dogs with food allergies may require a special diet or medication to manage their symptoms.

Intestinal parasites

Parasites are another thing that affects the digestive system of dogs. These parasites can be transmitted through contaminated food, water or soil or by coming into contact with infected animals. Common intestinal parasites in dogs include tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms.

If your dog is experiencing any of these digestive issues, it is important to seek veterinary care to identify and treat the underlying cause. In some cases, digestive issues can be a symptom of a more serious underlying health problem, such as kidney disease or cancer. Your veterinarian can help you develop a treatment plan that addresses your dog's specific needs and helps them feel better as quickly as possible.

Remedies that can help your dog with digestive problems

Keep them hydrated

It's crucial that your dog stays hydrated all the time, especially if they are vomiting or have diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can make them dehydrated within a couple of hours. Try giving your dog water or ice cubes every two to three hours.

Don't just assume that water will help them hydrate; dogs also need vitamins and electrolytes to retain fluids.

Check their fever

You could use a rectal thermometer to check your pet's fever. There are ear thermometers as well, but they aren't as accurate as rectal thermometers. A dog's normal temperature goes around 38.6 degrees Celsius and a temperature higher than this is considered a fever.

If your pet has a temperature higher than 38.6°C or lower than 37.2°C, you should consider taking your four-legged friend to the vet to find out what's wrong.

Determine the cause

Most of the time, dogs ingest something that causes them to experience an upset stomach. Canines are notorious for eating foods they shouldn't. Determine the cause, or take your dog to the vet clinic if they are experiencing severe symptoms. 

Remove food for 24 hours

It's perfectly safe for canines to go without food for periods of time when in the wild. If your dog is fighting digestive issues, remove food for 24 hours and allow their gastrointestinal tract to recover and rest. After 24 hours, try giving your dog food that won’t upset their stomach. Dry kibble might be a great option. 

If your pet is a puppy, don't remove food for longer than 12 hours. You could use maple syrup to rub their gums, keeping their glucose level steady. Before giving them maple syrup, make sure it's xylitol-free. This artificial sweetener can potentially be lethal for canines.

Bone broth

Bone broth is highly beneficial for dogs. Get meat on the bone, water and apple cider vinegar and simmer it in a crockpot on lower heat. Making a bone broth takes a bit of time, but it's worth it. You can make it in advance and freeze it just in case your dog gets sick or experiences some issues with their GI tract.

Probiotics for dogs

By using the best probiotics for dogs, you are helping your pet combat conditions like diarrhoea in dogs, stomach discomfort, indigestion, gas and bloating, among other things. Some of the common ingredients that probiotics should contain are Bacillus Subtilis, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Boulardii, Bacillus Coagulans, Organic Pear Fibre, Organic Green Banana Fibre and Beta Glucans.

How long does a probiotic take to work? It depends on several factors, such as the dog's health status and the condition that is being treated. Generally it takes several days to several weeks to see any noticeable improvement.

If your dog experiences digestive issues such as vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea, you may notice improvement within a few days of starting the probiotic. Chronic conditions like IBD or inflammatory bowel diseases may take weeks or several months to see any improvement.

Following the recommended dosage and administration instructions for the specific probiotic product you are using is crucial. Find probiotics that are made without artificial colours, flavours, fillers, preservatives and GMOs. Get a formula that's suitable for all breeds, sizes and ages.

Bland diet

After your dog has fasted for 12 or 24 hours and has not vomited or experienced digestive upset, you should try feeding them a bland diet.

A bland diet can include cooked white chicken meat, boiled rice and food without oils, spices and fats. Gradually increase the amount of food you give your dog. Start with a tablespoon and wait for two hours. If your canine handles the food well, increase the amount to half a cup every 3 to 4 hours. Once their stomach condition improves, you can gradually return to their regular feeding schedule.

There are also certain foods that won't upset your pet's already delicate stomach. This includes bananas, sweet potatoes, plain yoghurt, oatmeal and plain, canned pumpkin.

How long does a dog's upset stomach last?

The duration of a dog's upset stomach can vary depending on the underlying cause, the disease your pet is trying to combat and severity of the symptoms. In some cases, a dog's upset stomach may only last for a few hours, while in other cases, it may persist for several days or even longer.

Acute episodes of upset stomach in dogs, such as those caused by dietary indiscretion or a mild infection, may last for 24-48 hours and typically resolve on their own. In such cases, you may notice symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, lack of appetite and lethargy.

If the symptoms persist for more than 48 hours or if they are severe, it is crucial to seek veterinary care. Chronic gastrointestinal issues like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or pancreatitis may cause recurrent or prolonged episodes of upset stomach, requiring ongoing monitoring and engagement.

Overall, it is essential to monitor your dog's symptoms closely and seek veterinary care if the symptoms persist or worsen. It becomes easier to manage digestive conditions in canines when you know what you are dealing with. We hope these tips and tricks will help your dog recover quickly and ensure their stomach stays healthy.