Digestive Problems in Dogs

Digestive issues are a common problem for dogs, with the causes being many and varied. Here you will find all of the most important information surrounding this issue, to help ensure you can recognise and treat any issues early on.

Symptoms: What Are The Signs of Digestive Problems in Dogs?



If your dog is frequently experiencing flatulence, it can be a sign of digestive problems. As well as resulting in unpleasant odours, this can also mean that your dog is suffering from pressure discomfort or pain.



Multiple cases of loose or watery stool over the course of the day means your dog is experiencing diarrhoea. This can result in your dog losing high levels of fluids and becoming dehydrated.  There are a number of reasons for diarrhoea.



In most instances, you will recognise your dog is constipated if it has frequent unsuccessful attempts to produce stool. In some cases, it may manage to produce a few small, hard pellets, often with some pain.



Almost any organ can trigger the vomiting centre in the brain, causing your dog to be sick. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the cause. If symptoms persist or your dog shows other signs of illness, you should consult your vet.

Stomach ache

Stomach pain

The most important signs to look out for are loss of appetite, restlessness, licking lips and drooling. A hardened stomach or stretching in a “downward dog” position, can also be signs that your dog is experiencing stomach pain.



If your usually lively dog no longer wants to play, even with multiple invitations and its favourite toys, instead choosing to lay in its bed all day, this can be a sign of exhaustion.

Causes: what are the main triggers of digestive problems in dogs?

1. Food intolerances

Dog Food Intolerances

Regardless of breed, sex or age, if your dog is having an allergic reaction to a certain food, the chances are it has a food intolerance. It is important that you remove the allergen from your dog’s diet as quickly as possible. You can then work together with your vet to find a food that is more suited to a dog with allergies. Often choosing a dish that has a single source of protein or is grain-free can be an ideal option.

2. Sensitive digestive tract

Sensitive Digestion

Many dogs have particularly sensitive stomachs. If this is the case, you should be sure to choose a dish that has been created specially for dogs with sensitivities. The carefully selected ingredients in these foods can help to soothe your dog’s delicate stomach.

Hill's Prescription Diet

Hill's PD

Concept for Life

Concept for Life

Rocco Sensitive

Rocco Sensitive

Royal Canin Veterinary

Royal Canin

3. Changing food too quickly

Many dogs can move fairly swiftly onto a different diet, whilst others struggle. This can threaten to cause digestive problems such as flatulence or diarrhoea, so a food change should always be carefully controlled. This helps the digestive system to gently adjust to its new diet.

4. Eating something unpleasant

Depending on what your dog has eaten, there can be various signs. If it is something rotten, it will likely vomit and may have diarrhoea. If this is the case, these symptoms will generally improve within a day.

If, however, your dog has been poisoned, it may present with more severe symptoms such as weakness, severe salivation, restlessness or circulatory problems, depending on the type and dose of the poison. Eating foreign bodies can also have serious consequences, such as intestinal obstruction. In cases like this, every second counts, so get your dog to the vet as soon as possible!

5. Eating too quickly

Eating too much and too quickly can place unwanted strain on your dog’s stomach. Be sure to always break down chunks of food into smaller pieces, or use a special slow-feeder bowl.

6. Stress

Increased levels of stress can cause higher levels of hormones to be released, which can in turn lead to digestive problems for your dog. It is also common for particularly stressed dogs to have watery diarrhoea.

7. Drinking too little

Even if your dog is not drinking enough water, the intestine will still extract a lot of liquid from the food pulp. This means the stool will thicken and can result in your dog becoming constipated.

8. Moving too little

Physical activity can play an important part in your dog’s digestive health. Moving too little or remaining in one position for too long, such as sitting or lying down, can lead to unpleasant constipation. Dog sports and long walks are, therefore, just as important for your dog’s wellbeing as your own.

9. Parasites

A common cause of digestive problems in dogs is parasites that infest the gastrointestinal tract. As well as giardia, these can include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. Therefore, it is recommended that you check your dog’s stool for intestinal parasites about four times a year.

10. Infections

There is a huge range of infections, metabolic diseases or hormonal illnesses that can have a negative effect on your dog’s digestion. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from any of these, you should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

  • Eating too quickly
  • Low Fluid Absorption
  • Stress
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Parasites

Our Top Brands

Hill's Prescription Diet
Concept for Life
Hill's Science Plan
Royal Canin

You might also be interested in

Dog Digestive ProblemsDog Digestive ProblemsDog Health & Care

Digestive problems are common with dogs – and very uncomfortable. Diarrhea can have a multitude of causes.

Read More