Healthy digestion is essential for your dog to be able to use nutrients from their food and obtain energy. Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases affect a dog’s stomach, intestines, and the passage of food through the digestive tract. These diseases can cause pain, malabsorption of food, and many other problems for dogs. Digestive upsets may be as simple as a dog developing an intolerance to food or eating garbage, to something more severe, such as bacterial or viral infections and the presence of chronic disease. Changes in diet, food allergies, stress, internal parasites, ingestion of a foreign object or toxin, and drug therapy are also common causes for GI diseases. We’ve put together a list of some common digestive disorders in dogs, including warning signs to look out for and treatment options.
Acute gastritis occurs when the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed or injured. It can be caused by diet (changes in diet, food allergy, food intolerance, and spoiled food), infections, other diseases, or ingestion of foreign objects or toxins (drugs, chemicals, or plants). Common warning signs of dogs with gastritis include sudden vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, and abdominal pain.
Diarrhea & Vomiting
Acute diarrhea can be caused by a change of diet, ingestion of toxins, prescription medications, infections, or stressful situations that disturb the healthy bacteria in the GI tract. Allergic food reactions, dietary sensitivities, and intolerances are also common triggers of diarrhea for dogs. Diarrhea can also be a symptom of a variety of other diseases. Acute vomiting can be caused by ingestion of irritating substances, prescription drug therapy, and toxins. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be caused by many other disorders including diseases outside the digestive system.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of chronic disorders that cause inflammation of the digestive tract. Persistent inflammation can lead to damage, thickening, and changing of the intestinal lining. The exact cause of IBD is unknown and can affect all ages and types of dogs. Some forms of IBD are prevalent in certain dog breeds and excessive allergic reactions to food, drugs, and intestinal parasites are thought to be contributors. Weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in appetite are common warning signs of dogs with IBD.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a disease caused by insufficient production and secretion of digestive enzymes by the pancreas. Lack of pancreatic digestive enzymes leads to problems with digestion and absorption of nutrients from the diet. Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to develop this disorder, although it can occur in any breed. Weight loss, increased appetite, vitamin deficiencies, flatulence, and diarrhea are common warning signs of dogs with EPI.
Pancreatitis is a disease caused by inflammation or infection of the pancreas, and can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Pancreatitis can develop when digestive enzymes are activated inside the pancreas, rather than in the intestinal tract. The enzymes begin to digest the pancreas itself, causing damage within the pancreas. Dogs with high-fat diets, or dogs that eat trash, large amounts of table scraps, or other inappropriate food are more at risk for developing pancreatitis. Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration, weakness, and loss of appetite are common warning signs of dogs with pancreatitis.
If you have concerns about your dog’s digestion, it is important to speak with your veterinarian so they may determine the exact cause of your dog’s problem. Treatments for GI diseases vary and may include a combination of prescription medications, stress management, nutraceuticals, or probiotic supplementation. Because diet plays a significant role in GI health, your veterinarian may recommend a specific type of diet, such as low fat, low residue, high fiber, or hypoallergenic. Learn more about the Types of Gastrointestinal Diets.
Your veterinarian may prescribe a therapeutic diet to help manage your dog’s digestion. Hydrolyzed and novel protein diets are two common types. Hydrolyzed protein diets have a source of protein with a low molecular weight to help reduce the chance of adverse reactions. Novel protein diets use an uncommon or unique type of dietary protein the dog has not been exposed to in order to lessen the chance of allergic response. Learn more about therapeutic diets.
Liquid nutrition may be recommended for dogs with a chronic condition or those recovering from a short term illness. Liquid diets can give the digestive system a chance to rest and help prevent dehydration. These diets should be monitored closely by a veterinarian. It is important that liquid diets contain appropriate ingredients for your dog and meet their nutritional requirements.
Probiotics promote overall gut health, support the protective layers of the bowel, and aid with digestion. Probiotics may help with digestive disorders by encouraging the natural gut microflora, and competing with pathogenic microorganisms.
All treatments should be monitored closely by your veterinarian.VetRxDirect carries a large selection of products for dogs with GI needs. Check out our website for more information.
Emeraid Sustain is a liquid diet formula for dogs recovering from illness. This highly digestible diet provides high energy and long-term nutritional support for dogs recovering from illness, surgery, chronic disease, malabsorption, and digestive disorders. Emeraid Sustain can also be used to transition dogs from intensive care diets to regular food, and support underweight dogs.
Emeraid Intensive Care is a prescription, liquid diet for dogs with critical or chronic illness. Emeraid Intensive Care contains smaller sized nutrients and easily absorbable ingredients. This highly digestible diet provides maintenance nutrition for dogs recovering from critical or chronic disease, malabsorption, and digestive disorders.
Visbiome is a high potency probiotic formula for dogs. Made with 8 concentrated strains of live bacteria, each dose of Visbiome contains 112.5 billion bacteria to help establish and maintain the balance of natural flora in the gastrointestinal tract. Visbiome may reduce loose stools and help manage dogs with inflammatory bowel disease. Visbiome Vet is a Non-GMO and Gluten Free formula.
Visbiome Unflavored is a human product available for large dogs. Each sachet contains 450 billion live probiotic bacteria, equivalent to 4 capsules of Visbiome Vet. This product may be recommended for dogs over 60 lbs or animals requiring higher doses of Visbiome. It also offers a cost-effective option for dogs taking Visbiome for prolonged periods of time.
Blue Natural HF Hydrolyzed Veterinary Diet features hydrolyzed salmon, a novel protein with low molecular weight, to help reduce the chance of adverse reactions. Blue Natural HFcontains easily digestible ingredients and provides balanced nutrition for dogs. This diet does not contain grains, by-product meals, artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.