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Understanding and managing digestive disorders in dogs

Regardless of whether they are fluffy puppies or loyal companions in old age – dogs, like us humans, can be affected by digestive problems. Stomach and intestinal problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, mushy stool consistency, constipation, chronic worm infestation or IBD (chronic intestinal inflammation) can cause stress not only to the dog, but also to the concerned owner. But don't worry, in this article we will take a comprehensive look at general digestive disorders in dogs, explore the symptoms and shed light on the various causes.

General symptoms of indigestion

Lack of appetite: If your otherwise lively dog ​​suddenly leaves food behind, it could be a sign of digestive problems.

Vomiting: If your faithful friend vomits frequently, it should not be taken lightly. It could indicate an underlying digestive disorder.

Bloating: Sudden gas accumulation in the abdominal area can be painful and indicate an imbalance in the intestinal flora.

Abdominal cramps and colic: If your dog is experiencing abdominal pain accompanied by cramps, an indigestion could be the cause.

Mushy stools and diarrhea: If your dog's stools are unusually soft or runny, this could be a sign of impaired digestion.

Watery discharge from the anus: This could indicate inflammation or infection that requires careful monitoring.

Increased grass eating: A natural instinct of the dog, but which can occur excessively when there is discomfort or an unbalanced diet.

Increased eating of feces and soil: A possible indication of a nutrient deficiency or a disturbed intestinal flora.

Worm infestation: Parasites in the intestines can cause a variety of digestive problems.

Dogs eating grass

Causes of digestive disorders in dogs

Basic causes

Indigestion is not uncommon in dogs, and it can have a variety of causes. A deeper understanding of these causes can help better protect the health of our furry companions. In order to understand this better, let's first look at the basic causes of digestive disorders in dogs.

1. Infections caused by viruses: parvovirus as an example

Infections caused by viruses such as the dreaded parvovirus can cause serious digestive disorders in dogs. This disease primarily affects puppies and causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

2. Diseases caused by bacterial infection: pathogens and normal bacteria

Bacteria are a natural part of a dog's digestive system. However, there are pathogenic strains of bacteria such as salmonella and the strains of bacteria that can cause serious illness. Likewise, certain normal bacteria play an important role in the intestines as long as they are present in appropriate quantities. A change in the intestinal environment can cause certain bacterial strains to multiply uncontrollably and trigger digestive disorders.

3. Diseases caused by pathogenic yeasts and fungi: Effects of a disturbed intestinal flora

Pathogenic yeasts and fungi are often a secondary phenomenon of feeding problems or after antibiotic and cortisone therapies. If the natural intestinal flora is disturbed, these pathogens can get out of hand and lead to chronic diseases. The causative factors are not always obvious and may even appear months or years later.

4. Diseases caused by mycotoxins and bacterial toxins: A dangerous threat

Mycotoxins, toxins from mold pathogens, and bacterial toxins can be extremely toxic and cause life-threatening conditions such as liver or kidney failure. These toxins may be present in the dog's food or environment and must be avoided urgently.

5. Diseases caused by synthetic substances: toxins and allergens

Synthetic substances such as arsenic, lead, preservatives, flavor enhancers and dyes can pose a serious threat to a dog's digestive health. Not only can they have a direct toxic effect, but they can also cause allergic reactions.

6. Diseases caused by dysfunction of other organs and hormones

Sometimes dysfunction of other organs such as liver or problems in the hormonal system can cause digestive disorders in dogs. Digestion is a complex process that depends on many factors.

7. Diseases caused by tumor formation and endoparasites

Tumors in the digestive tract can cause serious digestive problems. Likewise, endoparasites such as worms and other parasites can interfere with normal digestive function.

Identifying the exact cause of digestive disorders often requires veterinary examination and diagnosis. A healthy and balanced diet, regular veterinary checks, and attention to your dog's behavior can help detect and treat potential problems early.

Specific digestive disorders in dogs: causes and solutions

Digestive disorders can range from harmless flatulence to serious problems such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). Therefore, we will now take a closer look at some specific digestive disorders in dogs, their causes and possible solutions.

Bloating: Bloating can have a variety of causes, ranging from impaired enzymatic digestion in the small intestine to problems with microbial digestion in the large intestine. An unbalanced bacterial population in the intestinal flora can lead to flatulence. Possible causes of bloating include:

  • Ingestion of feces or other indigestible substances: In some cases, the dog tries to digest things that are difficult to digest, such as feces, which can lead to malfermentation or flatulence.
  • Change in feed: A sudden change in the amount or composition of feed can cause bloating as the intestinal flora needs time to adapt. When switching to a new diet that is more varied or has a different composition than that previously administered, problems with microbial digestion may occur. The consequences of this can be noticeable in the form of mushy stool, mild diarrhea or even flatulence. In such cases, the intestinal flora often lacks the microorganisms required for digestion. Therefore, new or unfamiliar components cannot be digested easily. The regeneration of the intestinal flora usually requires a certain period of time (around 6-8 weeks), during which it is advisable to exercise patience. However, healthy intestinal flora not only has the effect of eliminating flatulence, but it also impressively strengthens the dog's immune system.
  • Protein oversupply: An imbalance in the intestinal flora due to too much protein in the diet can cause bloating. This is often the case when feeding wet food, dried meat products or raw meat feeding (BARF).
  • Incorrect total daily ration: An unbalanced mix of main food, treats and supplementary food can lead to digestive problems. It is always important to ensure that additional feeding of snacks and other supplementary feed is taken into account in the daily ration.
  • Feeding raw meat: Continuous feeding of raw meat can lead to increased germination and fermentation problems.
  • Chemical exposure: Taking medications, worm treatments or antiparasitic agents can cause irritation or destruction of the microflora.
    Inferior dog food

Abdominal rumble and colic: These disorders can be due to various causes, both those related to diet and those unrelated to it.

Poor quality feed components or synthetic additives can trigger abdominal cramps and colic. On the other hand, less obviously, non-nutrition-related factors such as medication, vaccinations, worming treatments, anti-parasitic treatments or specific allergens can also cause symptoms.

There is also the possibility that these symptoms are due to serious illnesses such as a pancreatic or biliary disorder or other serious health problems, especially if the symptoms recur periodically. When looking for the cause, it is best practice to keep a detailed written record of all regular and irregular events in the dog's life. This should include deviations in sleeping and eating habits as well as other special events such as deworming, medication or stressful stressful situations. Often this recording can help identify the cause of the problems more quickly.

Lack of appetite: Lack of appetite may be due to owners trying to stimulate the dog's appetite with treats. An unbalanced diet or excessive amounts of treats can lead to metabolic irritation and loss of appetite. A careful change in diet and attention to weight and health are important here.

Increased Grass Eating: Dogs occasionally ingest grass to vomit and cleanse their stomachs. In some cases, eating more grass can indicate physical discomfort. In addition to feeding-dependent factors such as: B. the burden on the metabolism with inferior feed components, stress, hormonal changes or other health problems can also lead to this. The cause of grass eating should be determined to find an appropriate solution.

Eating feces and soil: Ingesting feces and soil is partly normal, but excessive or regular behavior can indicate intestinal flora disorders. An imbalanced intestinal flora can cause the dog to try to ingest bacteria and minerals to restore balance. A high-quality and balanced diet is important to prevent such problems. See the Flatulence chapter to find out what causes this can be.

Gastric torsion: The causes of stomach torsion are varied, including incorrect feeding technique, food components that are difficult to digest and genetic predisposition. The dog's susceptibility to stress can also play a role. It is important to tailor the diet to the individual dog and possibly use soaked food to minimize the risk.

Pancreatic hypofunction (EPI): In EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), the pancreas produces too few digestive enzymes, which leads to digestive problems. Highly digestible food is important to minimize stress on the pancreas. A balanced diet, especially avoiding components that are difficult to digest, can help. We recommend avoiding feeding flakes, pelleted or “cold-pressed” foods because of the lower starch breakdown. The feed should be provided in the form of an extrudate (dry kibble produced by extrusion).

Chronic intestinal inflammation (IBD)

Chronic intestinal inflammation, also known as IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), involves a long-lasting inflammatory reaction in the digestive tract. The causes of IBD can be diverse, ranging from genetics to immune reactions to environmental factors. Symptoms often include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and general malaise. Optimal nutrition plays an important role in managing this condition.

Highly digestible foods that ease the burden on the digestive tract are beneficial for dogs with IBD. Choosing ingredients that are well tolerated and have low irritating properties can help reduce inflammation and ease symptoms. In some cases it may be necessary to use special diets that contain hypoallergenic or easily digestible ingredients.

Hence BugBell

Overall, a balanced, high-quality diet is the key to preventing or relieving indigestion in dogs. By understanding the needs and behavior of our furry friends, we can provide them with optimal health and quality of life. That's why we're not giving you a miracle cure here, but rather shedding light on the topic: