Digestive Problems In Dogs: Symptoms And Causes
Digestive problems in dogs are some of the most common reasons for veterinarian visits. Without going too far, it is estimated that almost 30% of dogs who go to the vet do so for having diarrhea on the day of the assessment or up to a month before the appointment.
The functionality of the intestinal system in dogs can fail on 4 very different but largely related fronts: digestion, nutrient absorption, movement of food through the digestive tract, and elimination of feces. A dog can have problems at any of these stages, depending on the causative agent.
Below, we’ll introduce you to everything you need to know about digestive problems in dogs. While it is true that diarrhea is the main symptom of many illnesses, not all manifest in the same way. Don’t miss it!
The most common digestive problems in dogs
As we’ve already said, not all digestive diseases in dogs manifest themselves in the same way. Therefore, in the following lines we will present the peculiarities of the most common.
The large intestine of animals is essential for the fluid and electrolyte balance of their bodies. Furthermore, it is a fundamental part of nutrient absorption and stool formation. For this reason, when a dog’s colon – the final part of the large intestine – becomes inflamed, water reabsorption fails and diarrhea ensues.
Colitis can be acute or chronic, but usually does not have a specific causative agent. In most cases, bacterial infections, parasites, physical trauma to the intestinal tract or allergies are suspected. In general, the treatment is symptomatic, as, above all, fluid replacement is used, but some conditions are chronic and incurable.
Constipation in dogs is considered when the dog is unable to expel stool for 5 days or more. The longer the stool remains in the dog’s intestine, the harder it will harden and the less water it will have in its composition. Thus, the task of defecating becomes increasingly difficult.
Mild constipation can be caused by a lack of water in the diet, a lack of fiber in the feed, or a general deficiency of nutrients in the dog’s food. In any case, severe symptoms arise from physical obstructions—when the animal swallows a solid object—intestinal constrictions, or neuromuscular problems.
Gastritis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the dog’s stomach. It is one of the most common digestive problems in dogs, as it is usually caused by spoiled food, bacterial infections, parasites and poisoning.
In normal situations, the stomach mucosa is the animal’s first intestinal defense barrier, therefore, when it fails, it usually manifests as diarrhea, inappetence, weakness and abdominal pain. In prolonged cases, the dog may vomit regularly.
4. Cancer in the gastrointestinal tract
Unfortunately, dogs aren’t immune to cancer either. In any case, this clinical event is very rare, since stomach cancer represents less than 1% of malignant neoplasms in dogs. Furthermore, these pathologies usually appear when the dog is older, between 6 and 9 years of age.
Dogs with cancer of the gastrointestinal tract may have bloody stools, difficulty defecating, abdominal pain, and even a tumor mass palpable to the touch. Depending on the type of tumor, the prognosis can range from excellent to fatal.
General Symptoms of the Most Common Digestive Problems in Dogs
We have summarized some of the most important digestive tract pathologies in dogs. Still, we find it particularly interesting to highlight a series of symptoms common to most of them, so that the tutor is able to detect any imbalance quickly and effectively. Take a look at the following list of clinical signs:
- Abdominal pain and discomfort in the belly region.
- Vomiting: if the vomit contains blood, it is necessary to take the animal to the vet urgently. Blood may come from the gums, respiratory system, or the gastrointestinal system, but it is usually indicative of a serious condition.
- Diarrhea: as we have said, pathologies such as colitis, gastritis and infectious diseases manifest as diarrhea. When the permeability of the intestinal mucosa is modified, water absorption is not performed well.
- Prolonged constipation.
- Generalized apathy, weight loss and lack of appetite.
A matter of calm and attention
As in humans, sometimes the body of dogs responds negatively when they consume food in bad condition. For this reason, vomiting and acute diarrhea may appear within normal limits. Thus, it is not always necessary to worry about the sporadic manifestation of these symptoms.
In any case, if this occurs continuously or especially intensely, it ‘s time to go to the vet quickly. Many digestive problems in dogs resolve on their own in a matter of hours, but others can end the animal’s life if not treated with the proper treatment.