Guide to Your Dog's Digestive Disorders

Just like people, your canine's digestive system is designed to help him digest foods and absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. This is an essential part of his development. Unfortunately, also like people, your pooch's digestive system can occasionally experience problems. For owners, identifying the problem is important because some conditions are extremely serious. They require a visit to a trained veterinarian.

In this article, we'll take a look at four digestive problems your pooch may eventually experience. We'll describe some of the causes and symptoms, so you'll be better able to determine whether a trip to the vet is warranted.

Gastric Dilatation (Bloat)

Of all the digestive disorders that afflict canines, bloat is the most serious. If it is not treated quickly, it can be fatal. The condition happens when gas builds within your pooch's stomach. This gas causes the organs to twist and compress the blood vessels in the abdominal region. Two side effects occur. First, blood is unable to flow properly because the veins are compressed. Second, his stomach becomes less capable to digesting food. Because it does not empty properly, gas continues to build.

Some breeds are more susceptible to gastric dilatation than others. For example, large breeds with narrow chests tend to suffer from bloat. Great Danes, Weimaraners, and Standard Poodles are more predisposed than Rottweilers, Samoyeds, and Dachshunds.

If your dog suffers from bloat, you'll notice him gagging, drooling, and having trouble breathing. He might also pace the floor because laying down is uncomfortable or painful. Again, this is a medical emergency that should be addressed immediately by a veterinarian.


There are several potential reasons your canine might vomit; not all of them require the attention of a vet. For example, he may simply feel nauseous and be unable to hold down his most recent meal. This is rarely cause for concern.

He might also suffer from an inflamed stomach due to something he ate. Dogs tend to eat anything that is placed in front of them, including items found in garbage containers. If he consumes something his stomach is unable to digest (e.g. plastic wrap, foil, etc.), it will be expelled. Again, this is seldom a problem.

Food intolerance, intestinal parasites, infections, and even pancreatitis can also cause vomiting. If you notice blood in your pooch's vomit, or he behaves in a way that suggests he is in pain, take him to a veterinarian. Likewise, if his vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea, a trip to his vet is a good idea.


Your canine may become constipated if he is not getting enough water. It can also occur if too much time passes between opportunities for him to eliminate. As a result of either circumstance, his stools will become hard and more difficult to pass.

You can help resolve his constipation by making sure he has a sufficient amount of water available to him at all times. Also, increase the amount of exercise he receives and incorporate foods that provide more fiber. Unless the condition persists for several days in spite of these changes, a trip to the veterinarian is usually unnecessary.


Canines occasionally deal with episodes of diarrhea just like people do. In most cases, the condition is due to something in their digestive tract that "disagrees" with them. There is usually little need to worry.

On the other hand, if you notice blood in your dog's stools or he shows signs of pain, contact his vet. He or she will want to know how many times your pooch has eliminated throughout that day as well as the appearance of his stools. Like vomiting, there may be several potential reasons for your dog's diarrhea. If his vet suspects parasites, infection, tumors, or other serious causes, he or she may want to examine your canine in person.

Digestive problems can be serious for dogs, depending on the disorder. If you're uncertain regarding whether you should call his veterinarian, err on the conservative side. Call the vet and let him or her decide the next step.

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