Dogs dog with lack of appetite

Published on September 12th, 2014 | by Debbie Martin


Gastrointestinal Problems and Your Dog – What You Need to Know

Has your dog been acting strangely lately? Have you noticed that they are appearing unwell? Just like humans, dogs can suffer from a number of gastrointestinal problems. However, your dog will not be able to tell you when they are feeling ill, so it is vital to keep a close eye on the health of your pooch.

With dogs, it can sometimes take a while to realize that they are ill and sometimes the symptoms of a problem can be recognized too late. When you are aware of the symptoms of canine gastrointestinal distress you will be able to get your dog the veterinary care it needs as soon as possible. Being conscious of your pet’s health in this way might potentially make a difference in their recovery and can even save their life.

Is The Problem Acute or Chronic?

When it comes to gastrointestinal issues in dogs, the problem can either be chronic or acute. If it is an acute problem that means that the issue has begun suddenly, perhaps due to something that your dog has eaten within the last day. A chronic gastrointestinal heath problem is something that your dog suffers from in the long term, perhaps for many years or even the rest of their life.

If an acute problem is left untreated, it can sometimes damage the digestive tract so much that it becomes a chronic problem. Some chronic problems start small and will gradually get worse over time, making them difficult to spot. It is important to take both chronic and acute problems very seriously and make sure that your dog gets the medical treatment that they need as soon as possible.

Warning Signs of Gastrointestinal Problems

When your dog is suffering from gastrointestinal problems, there are a few warning signs that will let you know they are ill. If your dog is exhibiting any of the following warning signs it is important to make sure that you take them to a vet as soon as possible.

Loud Noises from Their Stomach

A few small stomach gurgles are normal, but if there are any loud noises such as rumbling or gurgling this can be a sign that there is something wrong. This is especially true if this is not a common occurrence for your dog.

Eating Grass

Do you notice that your dog is constantly eating grass whenever you let him out in the garden, then vomiting it up later onto your living room floor? This is actually an instinctive measure that dogs resort to in order to encourage themselves to vomit. Your dog knows that he has something foreign and nasty in his stomach and he is eating the grass in order to get rid of it.

Sometimes dogs will eat grass now and then if they have a slightly upset stomach and it will be only a onetime thing. However, if you notice that your dog is eating grass regularly or an unusual amount; you should consult your vet immediately.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

When your dog is suffering from loose stools and vomiting, this is a sign that there is something wrong with their gastrointestinal system. It could be a chronic problem or it could be that they ate something that is making them ill – either way you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. You should also make sure that your dog has plenty of clean water to drink, because they will be at risk of being dehydration as they are losing a lot of fluids.

Lack of Appetite

A healthy dog should have a good appetite, so if your pet has refused to eat anything for 6-8 hours this should be investigated with your vet as soon as possible. This is especially important with small dogs because they need to eat more often or they can really suffer from hypoglycemia.

It is also a warning sign if they start drinking more liquids than usual, especially if this is followed by vomiting. Sometimes dogs drink water to induce vomiting, just like they eat grass.


Another sign that something is wrong is if your dog is experiencing bloating. Any sign of a bloated or distended abdomen is a very bad sign and you should take your pet to the vet right away. Sometimes bloating can be a sign of Volvulus, which is when the stomach of the dog flips over. This can be extremely dangerous, because it cuts off blood flow to the digestive tract. This requires immediate surgery to fix and if it not treated quickly it can be fatal to your beloved pet.

The signs of this medical emergency include weaknesses, collapsing, labored breathing and an elevated heart rate, as well as a bloated stomach. If you see your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, take them to a vet or an emergency pet hospital immediately.

Unusual Body Language

You know your dog well, so keep an eye on their body language to pick up clues on how they are feeling. If your dog is usually boisterous and energetic but they are suddenly lethargic and morose, this might be a sign that they are in pain and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal problems. You might also notice that they are more likely to snap at you than usual, especially if you touch their stomach where the pain is coming from. You might notice a friendly and social dog starting to act more withdrawn and spending more time alone, which is also a sign that they are in pain.

Of course, being able to observe the moods and behaviors of your dog in this way requires that you have gotten to know them over a long period of time and you know what is normal and not normal. Having this type of close connection with your pet just might give you an important clue about their health that will allow you to get them treatment sooner, so that they have a better chance of recovering from gastrointestinal problems.

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About the Author

Debbie has worked for Beeston Animal Health for a number of years and although generally involved with the marketing these days she has a great deal of knowledge on many things to do with small animals.

3 Responses to Gastrointestinal Problems and Your Dog – What You Need to Know

  1. joanne brennan says:

    Thank you That was so helpful

  2. Sine Gabrielle says:

    Thank you this was very helpful

  3. Amber says:

    Thanks you it was really helpful.

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