5 Common Digestive Problems in Dogs and How to Help

9 Minute Read
Updated August 30, 2022

Dogs are man’s best friend, and most of us consider them family members. We feed our dogs whatever we think is suitable, but digestive problems in dogs can still persist.

Digestive problems are one of the most common concerns that pet owners have. They can range from mild and inconvenient to severe and even life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated properly. Learning how to identify, treat, and even prevent digestive problems in dogs can boost their overall health. 

Signs of Digestive Problems in Dogs

It is often easy to recognize digestive problems in canines because their stool will show evidence of problems. You might see loose stool, constipation, and even gas or bloating if your dog is not digesting his food well. 

Monitoring stool quality and bathroom habits are important. If you walk your dog daily, checking on these things should be simple, and you can catch problems early. While your dog’s bowel movements are one of the most noticeable symptoms, keep an eye out for some of the more subtle symptoms of digestive problems. 

    • Loss of appetite
    • Eating Grass
    • Vomiting
    • Lethargy
    • Weight Loss/Gain

Look for any changes to your dog's behaviour or habits, as they could be a subtle sign that your dog is dealing with some tummy troubles. 


Diet is the Foundation of Good Digestion

When it comes to dog digestion, a high-quality, healthy dog diet is the best place to start. There are so many dog foods out there, but the fact is that not every food is right for every dog. There is no one size fits all dog food. Instead, you need to find the style and quality of dog food that suits your individual dog's needs. 

A good place to start is to learn which dog food ingredients are hard to digest, lack nutrients, or are of inferior quality. Ingredients like soy, mystery meats, and cellulose can all contribute to poor digestion.

Have you ever heard the saying - too much of a good thing can be bad? This can be another issue with many commercial dog diets. Ingredients like potatoes, peas, and corn contain important nutrients for dogs, but too many of these ingredients can affect digestion, nutrient distribution, and weight management. 

Another way to ensure a healthy diet is to stick to minimally processed foods. Heat degrades nutrients, so diets like dog kibble that are cooked at very high temperatures end up with less available and less digestible nutrients than food that is cooked at lower temperatures. 

Raw, freeze-dried and dehydrated dog foods are a great alternative because the food is not subjected to heat degradation, making the nutrients easier to digest and absorb, leading to better overall health. 

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Common Digestive Problems in Dogs

Not every unusual dog bowel movement is a cause for immediate concern, but if you notice severe, frequent, or recurring digestive issues in your dog, it could be a more serious problem. 

Long-term digestive problems can lead to many more serious issues, like malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies, and weight management issues. It's a good idea to be able to spot signs of poor digestion early so that you can seek appropriate treatment. 

You need to understand the digestive problems dogs face and how you can help them feel better to take better care of your pet. The following are the most common causes of digestive issues in dogs: 


1. Digestive Tract Diseases in Dogs

Like every other animal, dogs get sick, and when they do, digestive issues follow. Dogs, particularly puppies, are vulnerable to infections of the gastrointestinal system because they do not have the necessary immunity to prevent certain illnesses.

Acute gastroenteritis is a disease that causes Inflammation or infection of the gastrointestinal tract, primarily the stomach and intestines. It is the most common digestive tract disease but is a short-term disorder and is easily treatable.

If you notice sudden signs of gastrointestinal distress, like loose stool, excess gas, or vomiting, it’s time to call your vet.

How to Treat Digestive Tract Diseases in Dogs 

Probiotics for dogs recommended by veterinarians are the best solution for preventing and treating minor digestive disorders. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help your dog break down food and combat harmful bacteria in the gut. 

The key is to act fast. The sooner you start to rebalance your dog's gut bacteria, the less severe and uncomfortable the symptoms will be. Digestive aids like Baci+ Solutions Probio for Dogs can help reset and rebalance your dog's gut flora and restore normal digestion.

More serious or chronic conditions can also benefit from probiotics and digestive aids, but it’s important to talk to your vet first for a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment. 


2. Dietary Indiscretion in Dogs


The primary cause of digestive issues in dogs is what they eat. Dietary indiscretion refers to dogs eating something they should not have eaten, like garbage or children’s toys, but a more common name for this is garbage gut. 

Garbage gut does not specifically refer to dogs that eat garbage. It could be due to food-related causes where dogs eat foods that just do not agree with their digestive system.

The effects of dietary indiscretion can range from mild to severe, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. Even introducing new food to the dog’s diet can lead to digestive issues. 

How to Treat Dietary Indiscretion

Prevention is the best medicine in the case of garbage gut. Keep garbage cans, human food, and other tasty-looking items out of reach to prevent your dog from consuming anything toxic or harmful.

If you suspect your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t have, the solution is to take your dog to the vet, where they will vomit the item they consumed and receive laxatives to enhance the expulsion process. 

If the digestive issues are due to a food change, then you’ll need to consider a slower transition and add a digestive supplement like Omega Alpha Probiotic 8 Plus to improve digestion and nutrient absorption during the food change.


3. Stress Diarrhea in Dogs

Most pet owners are surprised that a dog’s mental health can affect its digestive system. Like people, a dog’s body follows its mind, so if a dog has poor mental health, its physical health will also suffer.

Too much stress on a dog’s mind can manifest in digestive issues, like diarrhea. Your pet will experience stress when dealing with unfamiliar situations. The addition of a new pet, moving to a new house, significant changes to daily routines, and even illness and injury can increase your dog's anxiety. 

How to Treat Stress Diarrhea in Dogs

Managing your dog’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Consider any changes to your dog’s environment or routine that may be causing stress or anxiety. 

Work with your vet to rule out any physical condition and talk about the most appropriate treatments. A digestive aid like Firm Up! Pumpkin Powder can be used to bulk up your dog’s stool and reduce digestive distress while you find the best solutions for your dog’s anxiety

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4. Toxic Ingestions in Dogs

Unfortunately, most people do not know what their dogs can and cannot eat. The price for such ignorance is often digestive issues in the dog.

Toxic ingestion is different from dietary indiscretion in that the latter involves the dog eating something they should not have while the former involves consuming a toxic substance. Toxic substances that can harm a dog include chocolate, household chemicals, certain plants, human medication, e.t.c.

The effects of toxic ingestion are often much worse than those of dietary indiscretion. The symptoms of toxic ingestion may include digestive issues, tremors, changes in heart rate, e.t.c. 

How to Treat Toxic Ingestions in Dogs

Check out the Top 10 Dangerous Human Foods for Dogs to prevent your dog from eating something that could have serious consequences. It’s important that you keep human foods, chemicals, cleaners, and any plants that may be toxic to your dog out of reach. 

If you suspect toxic ingestion, you need to take the pet to the vet right away. Call first and let them know what you suspect your dog has ingested, and they can advise you of any immediate action you should take. 


5. Dog Food Allergies

Food allergies in dogs are a growing concern for pet owners. While the initial symptoms are often skin and coat issues, digestive problems are not uncommon. The truth is, a lot of food allergies and intolerances are caused by a digestive issues that can affect your dog’s immune system. 

Allergies can be difficult to identify as it is challenging to know what a dog is allergic to, and sometimes it’s not a specific ingredient that is the issue. 

How to Treat Food Allergies in Dogs

A common solution to dealing with food allergies is to try to identify and eliminate the allergen from your dog’s diet. This is often a good solution for dogs with true food allergies. A limited ingredient diet, like Instinct Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Diet Turkey Recipe, can be a useful tool for identifying dog food allergies.

In many cases, the root cause of food allergies is poor digestion. A prebiotic, probiotic, and digestive enzyme combo like Adored Beast Apothecary Healthy Gut can be an effective tool for boosting digestion and regulating your dog's immune system. 


Does Your Dog Have Poor Digestion?


Digestion is the root of your dog’s health. If your dog has poor digestion, it can affect every part of their health, including skin + coat, metabolism, and even their immune system. If you notice your dog showing any signs of poor digestion, you should take action. 

Probiotics and other digestive aids are great tools for solving acute and chronic issues, but the underlying cause is often rooted in their diet. Connect with your vet to make sure that you are feeding healthy and appropriate dog food

Preventing poor digestion is important, so try adding healthy meal toppers and snacks that can help to boost your dog's digestion and overall nutrition. Here are a few of our favourite tummy-friendly foods that will compliment your dog's diet:

Dog owners must learn as much about their pets as possible, including what causes their digestive disorders. The primary causes of digestive issues in dogs are allergies, toxic ingestions, digestive tract diseases, dietary indiscretion, and stress. If you deal with the above causes, you significantly reduce the chances of digestive issues in your pet.


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How do you support your dog's digestive health? Share your tips, struggles and success stories with us in the comments below!

Written by

Nadine Westwood

Nadine is a health coach and writer who helps her clients achieve phenomenal and sustainable results by combining nutrition, fitness and fun! She believes primarily in living a happy life and that the backbone of any lifestyle is that it must be sustainable and enjoyable.


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