Dog Digestive System

Dog Digestive System

Gastrointestinal upset: a common problem in the dog digestive system

Gastrointestinal disease is one of the most common reasons dogs are brought to their veterinarian. There can be a wide range of symptoms of dog digestive problems, including:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Excess gas
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing

Some dog digestive problems may resolve once the dog’s digestive system is given a chance to rest. But more serious conditions could result in weight loss, dehydration and debilitation. Your veterinarian can determine the appropriate treatment.

Understanding dog digestive problems

Gastrointestinal disorders generally affect the dog digestive system and impair a dog’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. These problems can be caused by a wide range of factors, including:

  • An abrupt change in diet
  • Trauma
  • Indiscretionary eating
  • Toxins
  • Allergies
  • Foreign objects
  • Parasites
  • Medications
  • Infectious agents

Proper diagnosis of dog digestive problems is often difficult

With so many potential causes, diagnosing your dog’s problem can be a challenge for your veterinarian. To complicate matters even more, the disorder can originate in any part of the dog digestive system, from the mouth and esophagus, to the stomach, liver, pancreas and intestinal tract.

Effective treatment for your dog

Depending on the severity and type of problem, your dog’s treatment can involve dietary management with a special dog food for sensitive stomachs, medical management or even abdominal surgery.

If additional diagnostic tests are needed, your veterinarian may recommend laboratory analyses, radiographs, or a procedure like endoscopy, which involves inserting a tube with a small video camera into your dog’s digestive tract. This can help visualize the problem.

Since many gastrointestinal disorders can irritate the stomach and intestine, a diet that’s easily digested can help ensure your dog gets the nutrient balance necessary to support recovery.