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Common Gastro Problems In Dogs

gastro problems in dogs

Gastrointestinal problems and other digestive disorders are not limited to us humans – your furry best friend can have a funky tummy too! Diseases that affect the stomach are fairly common in dogs, which is why it’s important to know which symptoms to look out for. Here are the main causes of gastro problems in dogs, signs that your dog is struggling, and the best way to approach getting help.

What Are Gastrointestinal and Digestive Disorders?

A digestive disorder is any condition that either affects the absorption of food or changes its passage through the digestive tract. Gastrointestinal (gastro) disorders and other digestive disorders affect a dog’s stomach and intestines and are often extremely painful.

Gastro issues can lead to the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Acid-base and electrolyte imbalances
  • Malnutrition

Types Of Gastro Problems in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has some form of gastric problem, your veterinarian will run a few tests to determine exactly what’s going on. Causes can include eating something strange, food allergies or food intolerances, bacterial infections, viral infections, or a lack of digestive enzymes.

The most common digestive problems are as follows:

Acute Gastroenteritis

Usually a short-term disease, acute gastroenteritis refers to inflammation or infection of the gastrointestinal tract, with inflammation typically focused on the stomach and intestines.

This can be caused by:

  • Eating food that has gone bad
  • Eating high-fat food meant for human consumption
  • Eating toxic or poisonous plants
  • Food allergies or food intolerances
  • Swallowing foreign objects
  • Internal parasites
  • Stress


Colitis refers to acute or chronic inflammation of the membrane that lines the colon. This condition is most common in dogs younger than five years old, and causes your dog to pass stool frequently, even though it is painful for them.

Causes include:

  • A parasite known as whipworm
  • Tumors or polyps (abnormal tissue growths)
  • Sudden change in food
  • Swallowing foreign objects


Dog constipation is the same as human constipation! A constipated dog is unable, or at least finds it extremely difficult, to pass stool.

Causes include:

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of exercise
  • Eating indigestible materials (bone, foreign objects, etc.)
  • Diet containing too little fiber


On the other end of the spectrum, diarrhea is a condition where your dog has frequent and runny stool. This can lead to extreme dehydration and malnourishment if left untreated.

Common causes include:

  • Infections
  • Internal parasites
  • Stress
  • Sudden change in food
  • Eating food that has gone bad
  • Eating rich food meant for human consumption
  • Body organ dysfunction

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is a condition where your dog’s body does not produce enough exocrine pancreatic enzymes, which results in the inability to properly digest food. This is often characterized by an increase in appetite, weight loss, and large amounts of soft stool.


Pancreatitis refersto inflammation or infection of the pancreas. The direct cause is not known or fully understood, but potential causes are high-fat foods, other diseases, or trauma.

Small Intestinal Malabsorption

Small intestinal malabsorption refers to inflammation of the small intestine. This impairs nutrient absorption, results in a loss of appetite, and can lead to persistent diarrhea and extreme weight loss.

Signs Your Dog Has a Gastro Problem

Now that we’ve run through the potential causes of gastro problems in your dog, let’s look at how you can tell if your dog is experiencing stomach issues.

Similar to how scratching is the clearest sign your dog has fleas, the most common signs of any digestive disorder are diarrhea and soft stools. But you may also notice any combination of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation
  • Dramatic change in appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Overall weakness
  • Constipation
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Weight loss

Combat Common Gastro Problems with All Aboard Animal Hospital

By now, you should have a good idea of what gastro problems look like in dogs. If you have any questions, or you suspect your dog has a digestive issue, request a veterinary appointment with us today! We can’t wait for you and your pet to join our family.

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