Digestive Disorders In Dogs

Terrier laying on Floor pet digestive health

A dog with an upset stomach can lead to a lot of trips outside or a house covered in vomit and diarrhea. Like in humans, a dog’s digestive health is related to their diet. Learn how your dog’s diet could be leading to digestive issues and how a raw diet can restore digestive health.

A dog with digestive trouble can lead to a lot of trips outside, a house covered in vomit and diarrhea, or a poor dog suffering from constipation. If your dog experiences digestive issues, there is something you can do to help!

Within a week of being on Darwin’s the squishy, stinky stools were gone.  Within a month my overweight girl had lost 3 pounds – Gwendolyn L., Washington State 

Is My Dog Vomiting?

Just like in people, there are different reasons a dog will spit up, with some being more serious than others1.

Regurgitation

Sometimes dog owners confuse vomiting with regurgitation2. You can tell the difference between vomit and regurgitation by looking at your dog’s upchuck.

Often, regurgitated food has a tubular look that may be marked or coated with mucous. That’s because his food and/or water never made it through his short esophagus before the food came up.

This act of regurgitation looks pretty simple, and your dog may do it on occasion. It’ll happen fast and without warning, and it won’t bother him a bit. In other words, it’s a passive act that is easy and quick for your dog and is not stressful.

Lung Clearing

Dogs can appear to vomit when they are really just clearing their lungs. This act of expectorating is always accompanied by a cough, and the matter that comes up will be mucous and only mucous.

Vomiting

When a dog vomits, the dog’s food has made it all the way into his stomach before it is pushed back out. Your dog will be stressed when he does it. He may appear unhappy, anxious and restless. As opposed to regurgitation, it’s a forceful act that involves heaving and retching. Dogs actually have a vomit control center in their brains3.
Chronic vomiting is a different issue than the occasional upchuck. And can be a sign of any number of different conditions. If your dog is vomiting often, consult your vet.

Treatment for Chronic Vomiting

The best way to help soothe your dog’s upset stomach is to be watchful so you can report to your vet how and when your dog is behaving when he spits something up. Understanding details can go a long way to helping your vet know when your dog has a problem, and when, well, he’s just being a dog.

It is possible that your dog suffers from chronic vomiting because he has a sensitive stomach. If this is the case, switching his diet to a raw, all natural diet full of meats and vegetables will give your dog’s digestive system a break and allow him to absorb all the vitamins and minerals in the food without “losing his lunch”.

Diarrhea

All dogs get diarrhea at one time or another. It’s a natural way for the body to rid itself of indigestible material and toxins. Diarrhea is most often caused by stress or ingesting large amounts of fat or sugar.

How Do I Know If My Dogs Diarrhea is a Cause for Concern?

A single episode of diarrhea, when your dog is just fine after, and eliminates well the next time is often no need for concern4,5. An exception to this can be for puppies or geriatric dogs because they are far more prone to dehydration. Always provide your dog with plentiful fresh water, but this becomes even more important when your dog has diarrhea.

If your dog is experiencing some of these symptoms, it is best that you contact your vet:

  • The diarrhea happens more than once or twice
  • Your dog seems exhausted or debilitated
  • Excessive bloating or gas
  • Is not drinking water
  • Has a fever
  • The loose or liquid feces is speckled with bright red blood or old blood, which resembles coarse coffee grounds
  • Shows any other sign of illness
  • Has consumed something you know to be toxic (human medication, household chemicals, a mysterious parking lot puddle, chocolate, etc.)

If and when you decide to see your vet with your dog, take a sample of his poop with you along with you. This will really help your vet to understand if your dog is sick or if it is just nature’s way of expelling something that hasn’t agreed with him.

Finally, always trust yourself. You know your dog better than anyone, so if things seem “not quite right,” call or see your vet.

Constipation

Constipation is often not as evident as diarrhea (for pretty obvious reasons) or as frequent, but can occur6.

How Can I Tell if My Dog is Constipated?

By monitoring your dog’s poop.

It takes about six hours for your dog to digest his food. So if your dog goes a day or two without eliminating at all, you may want to call your vet. Sometimes, constipation can indicate serious problems, but sometimes it’s self-limiting.

Why Does Constipation Occur?

One reason why constipation can develop is that your dog is not getting enough water. With a raw diet, dogs are getting a lot of moisture, but dogs on a kibble diet can become dehydrated easily if they do not drink water on their own, as kibble contains no moisture.

Of course, there can be structural problems or more complex diseases other than dehydration that make it hard for your dog to keep a healthy elimination schedule, for example:

  • Having too little fiber in their diet
  • A lack of exercise
  • Excessive self-grooming causing the stool to contain large amounts of hair
  • A blocked or abscessed anal sack
  • Trauma to the pelvis
  • Orthopedic problems that cause pain when your dog tries to eliminate waste

What Can I Do to Relieve Constipation

If your dog is constipated, take note of when he tries to go (but nothing happens), or get a small sample (if he is pooping at all).

Make an appointment, and see you vet with your notes and the sample. This can help your vet to understand what is going on before she performs tests.

All dogs need fresh, clean water all the time. Good hydration is as important for them as it is for us, especially in hot weather.

Some people choose to give their dog filtered water to make sure he is not forced to process too much chlorine or other water treatment products. Just as with humans, the fewer chemicals ingested the better.
If your dog suffers from frequent constipation, switching their diet to a raw, all natural diet with a high fiber and moisture content will help regulate their digestive system, and make it easier for them to go!

Learn about Darwin’s raw dog foods

Back to Dog Health

Citations

1 http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/vomiting.aspx
2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEMkhjTW7dc
3 http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/vomiting.aspx
4 http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/cliented/diarrhea.aspx
5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUV6MEIzsFk
6 http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/11/11/constipation-in-pet-dogs.aspx
All External Research Came From: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/dog-constipation-causes-treatment

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