Canine Digestion Problems

Canine digestion problems are one health problem your dog does not have to suffer from. The common consequences of canine digestion problems are vomit and diarrhea. Periodic canine digestion problems can evolve into a chronic problem.

Severe or frequent vomiting and diarrhea that persist more than 1-2 days may leave a dog dehydrated and malnourished. If your canine experiences digestive problems, it’s important to call your veterinarian and discuss the situation. A fecal sample may be requested. If your dog has watery diarrhea with no blood or mucus, does not strain when defecating, and eliminates on a normal schedule, its small intestine is probably inflamed.

Feces should be checked routinely for parasites, and restrict your dog’s contact with other pets’ feces.

Prevent your dog from scavenging garbage cans or compost piles. Keep toxic substances, including antifreeze, drugs, and cleaning materials, out of your dog’s reach.

Food allergies, infection (bacterial or viral), inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, foreign bodies, metabolic diseases, organ failure of the kidney and liver, and pancreatic disease can all cause canine digestive problems.

Canine digestion problems can result from severe stomach irritation or spasms and cause vomiting. The solution to canine digestion problems are greatly within your control. Make your dog’s diet a number one priority and you will avoid canine digestion difficulties and the related problems.

To keep your dog’s gastrointestinal system functioning properly, a healthy, well-balanced diet is the key to avoiding canine digestion problems.

Canine digestion problems can result from sudden changes in diet or overeating. The aim is to avoid digestion problems, which will lead either to constipation, or to the rushing of food through the system too quickly, resulting in minimal nutrient and water absorption and a large volume of loose defecation.

The dog’s jaws are incapable of moving sideways, and instead are hinged. This allows them to open widely and ingest large chunks of meat.  Dogs can consume a large quantity of food at one time, and rest between meals. In the wild, this is known as “gorging”. This is beneficial in hunting big game. Canines, like carnivores, can consume large meals after a hunt, and then leisurely wait until the next meal opportunity arises.

Diet quality can be measured by the ease of digestion for your dog. Large, odorous stool is a reliable indicator that something is not right in the canine’s digestive tract, and what the dog is eating is the likely problem. Large amounts of vegetation, grains and fiber are difficult for canines to digest. Dogs have short and simple digestive tracts, and are not capable of fermenting and absorbing these foods like an herbivore would. High-grain, high-fiber diets in canine digestion will result in much larger stool volume.

The canine’s digestive system is a function of the mouth, stomach, small and large intestines, aided by the liver and pancreas. Functioning smoothly, the typical meal takes seven to ten hours to pass through the digestive system.

Canine digestion begins in the mouth and that is where canine digestive problems can begin. Saliva lubricates the food and passes it down the esophagus. The dog’s teeth are sharp, jagged, blade-in-shape molars designed for gripping, tearing and shredding, and specifically suited for the dog’s digestive capabilities. The canine’s short digestive tract easily digests animal flesh and fat.

Food spends a much longer time in the canine stomach, which produces a higher amount of hydrochloric acid, and aids in the breakdown of animal proteins, bones and fat. Chyme, also known as chymus, is the fluid that passes easily into the small intestine, where the pancreas and liver provide additional digestive enzymes. These enzymes continue protein digestion and also provide carbohydrate and fat digestion: carbohydrates to simple sugars, fats to fatty acids, and proteins to amino acids. Nutrients are absorbed from the small intestine into the bloodstream.

Probiotics can benefit the dog’s digestion, aid in absorption of nutrients, antioxidants and iron, and help with food intolerance. All mammals require these beneficial microorganisms and biologically produce substances to create a hospitable environment for them to take up residency, for necessary health and proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.

By the time food reaches the large intestine, most of the nutrients have been absorbed. It is here that water and electrolytes are assimilated and a bacterium breaks down the undigested fiber. The wastes are then excreted.

In addition to protein and fat, dogs require some carbohydrates in their diet. But, it is a delicate balance — too much protein and the result is disease, too little and the results are similar. The diet can go a long way in preventing canine digestion problems and many related problems caused by what the canine is digesting.