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PetPlus Condition Center

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What are Digestive Problems

  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive gas
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Pets can develop trouble with digestion for a number of reasons such as diet, food allergies, parasites, viral or bacterial infections, or certain diseases affecting the kidney, prostate, pancreas, adrenal gland, or liver.
  • Digestive problems in dogs can often crop up without warning and end up dissipating in much the same fashion. Othertimes, the problems can be chronic and should be monitored by your veterinarian.
  • Much of the time, an upset stomach is caused by your pet eating something he/she shouldn’t, such as table scraps. This type of indigestion normally goes away after the food “passes.”
  • Other pets, however, suffer from chronic conditions - like inflammatory bowel disease. These pets should seek medical attention to help combat the specific cause of their digestive trouble.
  • Spotting digestive problems can be fairly simple. Normally your pet would be coping with bouts of vomiting or diarrhea. If not that, they are likely bloated or not eating.
  • If you notice that your pet is suffering from a digestive disorder, the first thing you can do is give them water. Much indigestion is caused by being dehydrated and can be immediately treated.
  • Pets often develop digestive problems as a result of eating something they shouldn’t, so make sure that any food you prepare is kept well out of reach. And do not feed them from the table.
  • Digestion problems can be tricky. Generally, one time GI problems need to just run their course. However, if it is a chronic condition, early treatment can be very helpful. So, while treatment may not always be administered, if you suspect that your pet has digestive problems, take your pet to your veterinarian.
  • Treating the digestive problem depends heavily on the cause.
    • If your pet has an upset stomach as a result of something they eat, the best thing you can do is wait. Try giving him/her a mild diet and lots of water, slowly weening him/her back onto their regular diet.
    • If the cause is viral, such as Parvo or the coronavirus, your dog will need to be kept under close watch to make sure the condition subsides, but in most cases medical treatment is not necessary. If the virus results in an infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed.
    • If the cause is parasitic, your vet will prescribe you with a dewormer like Drontal Plus.
    • If the cause is bacterial, antibiotics will be given.
    • Should your pet be suffering a chronic condition like IBD or gastritis, they may need to be put on medication or a special diet (like Cimetidine or Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal High Energy Food, respectively).
  • Pets suffering from digestive problems often end up behaving a little lethargic, slowed down a bit by their upset stomach.
  • You may notice an aversion to food, often caused by a feeling of bloatedness that is frequently found with digestive problems.
  • If your dog is straining to defecate without a result, this constipation could be a result of a GI and digestive problem.

a PetPlus Member's story

My aim has always been to study the relationship between nutrition and the most common disorders that affect pets. Dr. Sergio Canello is the founder of Forza10 and is an expert in natural medicine and food-related pathologies. Forza10 is the first USDA approved European pet food. image description Save $96 a year on Forza OTO Sergio Canello, DVM Rome, Italy Read More

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What To Expect

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    Prescription Medication

    The medication that is used to treat digestive problems is entirely based on the root cause of the ailment. For things like a bacterial infection, an antibiotic like metronidazole will likely be prescribed. For a parasitic infestation, you may be prescribed a dewormer like Drontal (although there are other OTC dewormers like Safeguard Canine Dewormer). If your dog has indigestion as a result of a chronic condition like gastritis, your vet may have your dog take medications like Cimetidine.

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    Food

    It makes sense that food could be a cause of digestive problems, and as such, plays a large role in the remedy. If you suspect that your pet is sick as a result of the diet they are eating, try switching them to a therapeutic diet recommended by your vet (such as Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d) and slowly weening them back on to their regular food over the course of a few days. Also, keeping your dog well hydrated makes all the difference.

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    Nonprescription Options

    Helping to settle your pet’s digestive problems on your own often involves switching them to a special diet, but there are other things you can do as well. If they will let you, rubbing their stomach can often be soothing. You can also try and introduce digestive enzymes like Enzyme Pro or Viokase-V to their regimen, but only if you consult with your vet beforehand.

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    Professional Treatment

    The type of professional treatment received is entirely based on the cause of the digestive problems. In certain extreme cases, surgery may be necessary. In most cases, however, treatment is going to consist of dealing with the underlying cause and keeping your pet comfortable. Also - and this cannot be said enough - hydration is the most important thing.

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