How To Treat Digestive Issues in Dogs

How To Treat Digestive Issues in Dogs

PHC LLCSep 24, '19

There are so many fun perks to having a dog. One perk is seeing how happy they are whenever you give them their favorite food for dinner and when you give them tasty treats every once in a while. But digestive issues in dogs do exist, so dog owners should always be on the lookout for signs of possible digestive issues. 


What are digestive issues in dogs?

Digestive issues are also known as gastrointestinal disorders. This condition basically hinders your dog’s ability to absorb all the nutrients in the food or treat they eat. Meaning, even if you serve them the healthiest dog food you could find, it will have little to no effect on your pet if he/she is experiencing digestive issues.

These digestive issues are usually caused by a wide array of factors. Some of them are parasites, food allergies, toxins found on food, eating food that is high in fat,  sudden change in diet and possible side effects of medications. Luckily, there are symptoms that can serve as red flags so you will know when to provide simple treatments or seek veterinary help.

Symptoms of digestive issues in dogs

Diarrhea and blood or mucus in stools

You can detect if your dog is experiencing diarrhea if he/she feels the urge to pass stool very frequently or urgently. Their stool may not be much in volume, but are almost liquid-like in form. In some cases, it will appear mucus-like and could include some blood. This symptom is commonly related to a digestive problem in the dog’s large and small intestine. This might also be an indication of a parasitic infection brought about by protozoa coccidia. 

Constipation and Straining when passing stools

Constipation is another symptom which, contrary to diarrhea, is when your dog’s stool may be described as “dry and hard”. In this case, your dog may have bowel movements very infrequently and may display signs of straining or having a hard time passing their stools. This may indicate an impacted blockage to their digestive system, which can sometimes cause their stool to have a watery element. Hence, it may sometimes be mistaken as diarrhea.

Vomiting and Regurgitation

Regurgitation occurs when your dog spews out solid and undigested food immediately after swallowing. You may notice your dog showing signs of pain while swallowing, resulting to regurgitation. Vomiting on the other hand is when the dog throws up food that is already partly digested by the acid in its stomach. This also comes with hyper salivation and nausea. This might be an indication of a problem with the food’s movement through the dog’s esophagus.


Change in Appetite, Flatulence and Overall Appearance

A dog’s change in appetite, increase or decrease, can both be a sign of a digestive issue. Your dog could have an increased appetite in food and yet still lose weight. This is because they are eating excessively to compensate for the nutrients that their body was not able to absorb. This weight loss may also be accompanied by a sudden change in their overall appearance like having a dull and brittle coat. Their appetite loss on the other hand may also come with excessive gas and flatulence. A drastic change in their appetite could be an indication of a digestive problem on their small intestine, or worse, an inflammatory bowel disease.


Different Types of Digestive Issues 

Colitis

Also known as the inflammation of the large intestine, colitis is a result of the failure of the colon’s immune system to function. Since the colon (the large intestine) acts as the balancing organ for the dog’s electrolytes essential in nutrient absorption, its damage could result to bacterial and parasitic infection. Some signs to look out for are diarrhea and constipation.

Gastritis

This digestive issue is a result of the inflammation by the dog’s stomach. Your dog may display signs of vomiting regularly which may also be caused by parasites, an injury of the stomach lining, and infections, to name a few. The vomit may be accompanied by blood and bile and may cause weight loss and dehydration.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This issue targets the dog’s mucosal barrier which is in charge of taking care of the dog’s intestinal lining. Thus, the inflammation may lead to negative changes in the intestine’s lining.

Known to have an affect to all breeds and ages of dogs, this digestive issue may be indicated when your dog is showing symptoms such as dark stools, abdominal pain, vomiting and loss in appetite. Since these symptoms could also be signs for other digestive issues, cases like inflammatory bowel disease tend to be difficult to detect.

Malabsorption

From the word itself, malabsorption is the lack of absorption of nutrients from the dog’s food intake. Signs may include diarrhea, weight loss and drastic change in appetite. 

Canine Parvovirus

Caught through interaction with infected dogs and feces, Canine Parvovirus is proven to cause severe damage to the dog’s intestinal lining. This could also result in a decrease in white blood cells as the virus could spread throughout the body. Symptoms may range from loss of appetite to fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. 

How to treat digestive issues

Colitis

It is best to determine the cause and eliminate it immediately. Take your dog to the veterinary clinic for physical examinations. Some tests like blood extraction and x-ray may be conducted to pinpoint the cause of the colon’s inflammation.

The treatment for this issue will vary on the cause. It is advisable to give the dog’s digestive system a rest for a few days by avoiding food intake. After this, high fiber food should be included in their diet to treat diarrhea. If the symptoms still persists, an anti-inflammatory medicine will be prescribed by the veterinarian.

Gastritis

A physical examination along with other tests will be required as well with this issue. The medical history should also be taken into consideration especially when dealing with long-term gastritis.

Treatments for vomiting may be implemented depending on the cause. Resting the digestive system is also recommended to stop and control the symptoms. 


Inflammatory Bowel Disease

To decrease inflammation in the intestinal lining, a veterinarian approved diet modification must be implemented. This can also optimize the effects of medical treatment given to the dog. Some recommended diet plans include elimination diet and hypoallergenic. This may be home made by giving your pet rich protein sources such as lamb and meat. 


Malabsorption

Treatment involves diet modification, identification and elimination of cause. Low fiber diet is recommended and may be treated by antibiotics and complementary medications.


Canine Parvovirus

Currently, there is no particular treatment fit to completely eliminate this virus. Oral electrolyte solutions are given to treat dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea. It is advisable to follow the veterinarian’s dietary modification. Dogs are to be given feeding tubes should they refuse to eat in order to provide essential nutrients. 


How to prevent digestive issues in dogs 

It is always easier and cheaper to prevent digestive issues than to deal with them once diagnosed. Sometimes, what can be seen as treats to your dog, like feeding them table food, can result in a digestive problem after a long time. 

It is recommended to always include fiber such as vegetables in their diet. 

Overfeeding should also be avoided as this may result in overweight dogs and common indigestion. 

You also need to make sure that the toys your dog plays with are pet safe as some objects may easily damage or negatively affect their digestive system. 

Vaccination is also an effective way to prevent bacterial and parasitic infections that may eventually lead to digestive issues and overall health problems. 


References

https://www.royalcanin.com/us/dogs/health-and-wellbeing/spotting-signs-of-digestive-problems-in-your-dog

https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-dogs

https://www.purina.co.uk/dogs/health-and-nutrition/symptoms-to-watch-out-for/digestive-problems

https://www.revivalanimal.com/pet-health/how-to-prevent-common-digestive-problems-in-dogs/learning-center