Digestive Health in Dogs



What are dog digestive disorders?


A digestive disorder is any condition that prevents proper digestion or alters the rate at which foods pass through your dog’s digestive tract. Dog digestive issues are one of the most common reasons for consulting a veterinary practice.




Know the signs of distress



Some signs of your dog’s digestive problems are easy to spot. Make sure you consult with your vet if your dog shows any of these signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea or soft stools
  • Change of appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Stomach gurgling
  • Constipation
  • Sudden inactivity or depression

Please keep in mind that sometimes pets will show other signs, such as itchy skin or ears.

What causes dog digestive problems?


Digestive disorders can happen for a variety of reasons, and any one of them can cause your dog to not feel so well. Here are some of the more common causes of digestive disorders & dog stomach problems.


Food sensitivities


A food sensitivity is a reaction to ingredients in food that your dog’s body does not tolerate well. It’s also known as an Adverse Food Reaction, or AFT. This common issue can either be an immune-based or non-immune based reaction.

Food sensitivities are an individual issue, and while every dog is different, most food sensitivities involve common ingredients that your dog has been exposed to before, such as beef, chicken, dairy or wheat. If your dog has diarrhoea regularly or vomits especially just after eating, he may have food sensitivities.


Stress in dogs


Just like people, some dogs are more sensitive to change than others. There are many things that dogs find stressful. Chronic stress, or frequent bouts of short-term stress, can cause a range of negative reactions including digestive upset. Common canine stress triggers include:

  • Changes in everyday routine (exposure to new people, places or things, a new baby, houseguests, household schedule changes)
  • Loud noises (such as fireworks or thunderstorms)
  • Change of surroundings (moving to a new home or travelling on holiday)
  • Invasion of personal space (disruption when resting, or too much hugging and kissing)
  • Separation from family members (creating separation anxiety)



Other causes

Inflammation and irritation of your dog’s stomach (gastritis)
Inflammation and irritation of your dog’s stomach (gastritis)
Inflammation of your dog’s small or large intestine (enteritis, colitis)
Excessive growth of bacteria in your dog’s intestines
Inflammation of your dog’s pancreas (pancreatitis) or insufficient digestive enzymes

How can you help?


First, if you suspect your dog is suffering from a digestive disorder, talk to your vet about nutrition that may be able to help. Your vet may be able to recommend other treatments, too.

You can further help your dog by helping reduce the amount of stress triggers in his environment with some of these suggestions.


Stick with a routine


Dogs love predictability. Knowing he can anticipate when you’ll arrive home, when meals will appear and when is walk time, will go a long way to helping him find order and peace in his days.

Socialise, socialise, socialise!


When dogs are well socialised, they not only have been exposed to a wide variety of people, animals, sights, sounds and situations, but they have positive associations with these events. Making sure your outings are pleasant experiences for your dog will help keep him relaxed.



There are various products aimed at reducing stress in dogs — from acupressure jackets or “anxiety vests” to plug-in diffusers, there are a variety of ways to help your dog calm down in anxiety-inducing situations. These products don’t get at the root of an issue, but they can help address the immediate stress or a dog’s response to it.


Confront stress in its own territory — your dog!


When stress strikes, it can wreak havoc on your dog’s insides. The brain produces chemicals that signal “Stress!” to the rest of the body, including the digestive system. However, the nutrition that goes inside your dog can make a big difference. Calming ingredients such as milk protein can help soothe stressed dogs. Foods made with highly digestible ingredients can be gentle on upset tummies. And this relief may be as easy as switching your dog’s food – talk to your vet.