If you have a dog, you probably have experience with their digestive issues. Digestive problems can be caused by diseases, such as cancer, or by an obstruction in the digestive tract. However—and luckily—most digestive problems are much simpler in nature, with causes such as stress, a change in diet, a virus, or simply eating something that upsets their digestive system. Determining the cause of the gastric distress is the first step in treating your dog.

Dietary indiscretion
Inappropriate food sources—such as rich table food, cat food, garbage, and indigestible items from around the home and yard—are a common problem. Usually this will cause acute vomiting and/or diarrhea wiith a loss of appetite. Usually diarrhea is temporary, but when it lasts longer than 12-24 hours, you need to intervene in order to prevent dehydration. Early treatment is easy and will ensure quick recovery.

Overfeeding/people food
Overfeeding and/or feeding off the table can cause digestive issues. Stick to a normal feeding schedule, with a measured amount of nutritious food specially formulated for your dog’s needs.

Obstruction
One of the most preventable causes is foreign body obstruction. Pay close attention to your dog, especially on walks or while playing, to make sure your dog isn’t ingesting anything that would cause distress. Foreign objects can cause damage to and block the digestive tract, which often leads to surgery.

How to cope
It’s upsetting when your once happy, playful dog is suddenly lethargic, withdrawn, and possibly vomiting or ill with diarrhea. Because stress can cause digestive problems, try to keep your dog calm and well-adjusted. In times of high stress, you may notice your dog having more stomach issues. Find coping mechanisms that work for your dog, such as petting him or scratching his belly.

Early treatment is key
Although digestive problems are a normal part of life, they should not be ignored. Try to prevent digestive issues before they happen. When they do happen, early treatment will speed recovery and comfort to an uncomfortable family member. If your dog isn’t responding to typical treatment, the digestive problems may be caused by something more serious, like disease, parasites or a virus. If you even suspect that your dog is suffering from a serious digestive or gastrointestinal issue, contact your vet immediately.