Common Digestive Issues in Dogs

Common digestive health issues in dogs

Digestive issues are very uncomfortable and stressful for both you as well as your furry friend. Most digestive issues appear similar but are in fact quite unparalleled.  There could be several reasons for digestive issues in your pet starting from the unnoticed consumption of a toxic food item or to an infection of unknown origin. 


Here are some of the common symptoms of digestive issues your furry friend may face

  • Vomiting

  • Bloody stools

  • Diarrhoea

  • Constipation

  • Poor appetite

  • Loss of weight

  • Fever

  • Dehydration

  • Abdominal pain (usually demonstrating the praying pose or whimpering/yelping when picked up etc.)

  • Bloated tummy

Your furry companion may have only one or a few symptoms of concern at once.

Though some of the mild symptoms of tummy troubles can be resolved easily through home remedies but there may arise certain situations where you need to seek immediate help from the veterinarian. 


Mild symptoms to look out for 


  • If your pet is in his/her puppyhood or is an old senior
  • If your pet has blood in stools
  • If your pet has an upset stomach which is accompanied by lethargy, dehydration or pyrexia etc.
  • If your pet has a bloated tummy with pain (some breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Collies, German Shepherd etc.  are more susceptible)


Some of the common Digestive issues your furry friend may experience 

Food poisoning 

Our curious little furry babies love to taste new substances such as garbage, table scraps or anything they pick up during their walk. This could be because of dietary indiscretion as well. The other instance could be during a transition process to a new diet. Consumption of substances which contains toxins such as household chemicals, poisons or certain plants and flowers with toxins may also be a cause of poisoning. 


Stress induced diarrhoea 

The gut and brain connection is stimulated in response to stress and hormones such as Cortisol released can affect the function of the intestine by increasing gut contractions and decreasing fluid absorption resulting in diarrhoea. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

Inflammatory bowel disease is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The cause may be due to sudden onset of food allergies or food sensitivities, improper immune response (the body’s immune system attacks the healthy cells leading to inflammation). Breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Golden Retrievers have a tendency to suffer inflammatory bowel disease. Diet, stress and gut bacteria content of the gut also may pay an important role. 


Infection of the digestive tract 

Puppies and senior dogs are at a higher risk of suffering from infectious diseases of the gastrointestinal tract such as Parvovirus. This a fatal situation since the immune system is either too weak or has not been developed yet. Internal parasites such as Giardia, Coccidia or worms are also very common which if left untreated can lead to serious health issues.


Gastric Dilatation (GDV)

The Gastric Dilatation may occur as a result of entrapped gases in the intestine and the stomach twists and rotates. The trapped gas causes the stomach to expand resulting in irreversible damage to the digestive organs such as spleen and finally resulting in shock or death.



The inflammation of the pancreas (the organ which produces insulin and other digestive enzymes). Consumption of fatty food such as table scraps are a determining factor of pancreatitis. 


Symptoms of Pancreatitis 

Vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite or anorexia, weight loss, dehydration etc.

The treatment option your veterinarian chooses will be based on the stage of the disease and your pet’s past medical history.


Blockages of intestine 

The inhibition of the intestine by any foreign substance such as bone particles, laundry pieces, non digestible food items like corn cobs, avocado pits, toys, wood, coins and other metals, cleaning products or chemicals etc. can hinder the digestion, assimilation and excretion process. Surgery may be the option to treat your pet.


Constipation is the temporary difficulty in passing stools. You may find your pet straining or in pain while trying to defecate. One of the cause of constipation is due to the complete reabsorption of water in stool and it becomes dry and hard. A small amount of liquid faeces or blood in stool may also be some signs of constipation. 

Causes of constipation 

  • Colon diseases
  • Certain drugs
  • Stress
  • Intestinal obstruction due to foreign particles
  • Change in diet quality
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of physical activity


The inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract is characterised by either one symptom of vomiting or diarrhoea or diarrhoea and vomiting simultaneously. It has an onset for 2 weeks and the intensity may be acute or chronic. 

Some causes of gastroenteritis are:

  • Consumption of spoilt food
  • Accidental ingestion of foreign bodies or toxins
  • Liver and Kidney diseases
  • Any kind of food allergies
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Cancer of the Gastrointestinal tract
  • Internal parasites

Gastrointestinal cancer 

Cancer of the gastrointestinal tract can cause inflammation of the digestive tract leading to gastrointestinal problems which increases acidity in the stomach. Though this is a sensitive issue early detection is associated with high rates of cure. 

Symptoms of gastrointestinal cancer are 

  • Difficulty in passing stools
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sudden change in behaviour

Treatment measures 

The stage of cancer determines the treatment option the veterinarian chooses. Some of the options are –

  • Surgical removal of the cancerous tissue
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Pain management
  • Certain pharmaceutical drugs to help subside pain


Diagnosis of gastric issues

Your veterinarian can help identify the prime difference between symptoms by asking certain questions to understand what your furry friend is going through. Specific details are collected such as –

  • Your pet’s history (to understand if your pet has eaten any unforeseen substance)
  • A complete physical examination
  • They may ask for a few tests such as blood tests, scans, X ray, ultrasound test, endoscopy etc.


Home remedies for gastric issues in dogs

For mild symptoms, a home based diet can help in subsiding symptoms your cuddly companion may be suffering from. Some home remedy ideas are:

  • A bland diet such as plain rice and chicken or boiled sweet potato does the work!

  • Always ensure your pet is hydrated. You can keep a bowl of water available at all times and providing tender coconut water, some yummy bone broth or ice chips and popsicles work well too.

  • Ensure your dog has a good rest and sleeps well.

  • You may also provide rest to the digestive tract by retaining food for a short period of time (maximum of 24 hours) but be cautious if you have a puppy or small breed or as per your physician’s advice.    

Preventing gastric issues in your pets

Here are some ways to optimise your pup’s gastric health, such as:

  • Ensure you are up to date with your furry friend’s vaccinations

  • Book regular pet health checkups

  • Avoid feeding your pet any human food such as table scraps

  • Keep the garbage bins and trash out of reach from your curious little furry beings.

  • Always supervise your dog on walks or when in the outdoors to stop them from having any unauthorised food.

However, it is crucial to remember that despite taking crucial measures to keep your furry friend safe from gastrointestinal issues, there may ultimately be times when your pet falls sick and taking your pet to the veterinarian must be the first line of treatment to get your precious little furry baby recover fast and help them get back to normal routine. 

Clinical Dietitian, Simplyweight

The London Obesity & Endocrine Clinic specialises in Weight Loss and Endocrine disorders at the Specialist Weight Loss Centre in Chennai, India. We offer face to face and virtual consultations with our specialist clinical lead, Dr Rajeswaran, who has 25+ years experience in this field. We support people with Obesity related medical conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, Fatty Liver, Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction, and Endocrine disorders like Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, PCOS, Hirsutism, Adrenal Dysfunction, Menopause, Pituitary problems and Sexual Dysfunction. Our services predominantly cover major cities in India including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and PuneWe also offer aesthetic treatments, metabolic master health checkups, bespoke weight management plans and an unique online weight loss plan for wellness and weight management. Get in touch to transform your life!

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