Posted by Camille Arneberg on

5 Most Common Dog Digestive Issues

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Your dog’s digestive system is complex, and at times, can be a little temperamental. While some GI tract issues can be fixed with a simple dog digestive supplement, other health problems may need a more aggressive treatment plan. There are many possibilities for why your dog may be experiencing gastric distress, but below, you will find some of the most common dog digestive issues.

Dog Digestion Problems


Very simply, gastritis occurs from inflammation in the stomach.  This particular digestive issue is one of the most basic and more prevalent digestive issues in dogs.  According to the Pet Health Network, inflammation can be caused by a number of different triggers including, changes in diet, bacteria, spoiled food, allergies, a virus, etc.  

Sometimes gastritis is an isolated incident, but it can also be a symptom of deeper dog digestive problems as well.  Like most digestive problems in dogs, gastritis is accompanied by symptoms like bloating, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, a lack of appetite, and canine indigestion.  

Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux, is a typical digestive issue in dogs. Acid reflux occurs when the pressure from stomach acid pushes excess acid up and out of the stomach and floods the esophagus. 

Acid reflux can sometimes be hard to identify as there is often no visible symptoms. Nonetheless, other visible signs of obvious pain and distress make it easy to tell if your dog is suffering from acid reflux.  Look for some of the following signs to help you identify acid reflux in your dog:

  • Weight Loss
  • Choking during and after meals
  • Occasional mucusy throw-up
  • Lack of appetite or an unwillingness to eat
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Starting and stopping meals without finishing a full serving

Acid reflux is treated with a prescribed veterinary antacid. The veterinarian may also recommend following a specific diet plan especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach.  Switching to low acidic foods, feeding smaller quantities throughout the day, and avoiding fatty human foods are all measures that should be taken to combat acid reflux.


Ulcers occur when an excess amount of stomach acid begins to erode the lining of the stomach, creating little holes in the stomach tissue. Most commonly, sores are brought on by excessive medication use or infections, and can even be caused by other preexisting digestive issues like gastritis and acid reflux. 

PetMD asserts that bloody vomit and hard dark stool are the two most common visible symptoms of ulcers in dogs.  While signs of ulcers may not always be visible, they are often detected due to unexplained weight loss accompanied by signs of fatigue and lethargy.  

Ulcers are typically treated within six to eight weeks depending on the severity, but in rare cases, ulcers can only be managed rather than fully healed.  Often, a directed dose of antibiotics and acid reducers allow the stomach tissue to make a full recovery


Viruses are a relatively common canine ailment but carry with them the potential to be a bit more severe than other digestive disorders. The Merck Veterinary Manual identifies Parvovirus and Coronavirus as two of the most common viruses in dogs. Most vets require all pups to be vaccinated to prevent the spread of these diseases. The real danger of these viruses lies in their ability to break past the digestive system, where they originate, and travel into the bloodstream. 

Parvovirus is spread through fecal matter and often attaches to a new host after a dog ingests an infected dog’s feces.  Parvovirus then attacks a healthy dog’s small intestine where it can penetrate to the bloodstream and eventually attack white blood cells, bone marrow, and the heart. 

Usually, symptoms of Parvovirus show themselves before the disease becomes advanced.  One such symptom of early onset Parvo is bloody diarrhea, which is easy to identify and a good sign that the virus is still contained within the small intestine. Parvo is entirely treatable, especially when caught early in the GI tract, but vaccination is the best way to prevent parvo from inflicting your pet. 


Parasites are a problem that most dog owners will deal with at some point during their pet’s life. Worms are the most common parasite and enter the body when your dog eats contaminated food or fecal matter. 

Worms are most commonly found in the intestines where they feed on the nutrient-rich food that your dog’s body is attempting to absorb and digest.  Worms deprive your dog of much-needed nutrients which can lead to dehydration, canine diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and vomiting.  

Usually, worms will show up in your dog’s stool, but if you suspect your dog has worms within his gastrointestinal tract without any visible evidence, your vet may suggest bringing in a sample to be analyzed.  Worms are easily treatable through antibiotics. 

It is imperative that you contact your veterinarian for professional help if you suspect your dog is sick.  While having a good understanding of potential issues your dog may be experiencing, it is no substitute for the breadth of knowledge and superior care your dog will receive by seeking the correct medical assistance from a professional


Camille Arneberg and her dog

Camille is a co-founder of PetHonesty and VP of Pup Parent Education. After watching her own family dog suffer from joint issues for years she became passionate about improving dogs' quality of life. With the help of a team of veterinarians and dog nutritionists she now helps educate other dog owners about the small but powerful things they can do to positively impact their dogs' health and wellness! She lives in Austin, TX and loves cuddling puppies, being outside and reading.