Skip to main content

This is probably why your dog is having digestive issues

Tummy trouble is no fun no matter what species you are. We’ve all felt nausea, stomach pain, and the inconvenience of digestive issues at least once in our lives, so it’s especially difficult to see our four-legged friends going through the same thing. Thankfully, there are many ways to combat the symptoms of dog digestive issues no matter what’s causing them.

Firstly, you’ll need to know the signs of stomach upset in canines, from the common to the most unusual. Then you can start identifying and treating whatever’s behind your dog’s discomfort. Know that you have your veterinarian on your side whenever you need them; they can recommend the best foods, treatments, and preventions for your pup. Until then, here’s what you’ll need to know.

How do you know if your dog has digestive problems?

Let’s be honest — some signs of dog digestive issues are obvious. It’s easy to see when their stools look runny, hard, or perhaps a different color than usual, but some symptoms are a bit trickier to spot. Even odd behavior can be an indicator of a serious problem, notes Vetericyn, so keeping an eye on your pup is a good idea if you suspect they may have ingested something that’s not sitting right.

Bond Vet lists the following as common symptoms of digestive issues in dogs:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss
  • dehydration
  • constipation
  • increased gas
  • distention of the abdomen
  • restlessness
  • signs of abdominal pain
  • blood or mucous in the stool
  • straining when defecating

Remember that every case of stomach upset looks different, so your pup may show any combination of symptoms on this list — or none at all! No one knows your dog better than you do, so if something seems off, don’t ignore it.

A sleepy Beagle takes a nap on a sofa
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What foods cause digestive problems in dogs?

There are many causes of digestive upset in dogs, says Purina, including toxins, allergies, parasites, and ingesting foreign objects. By far the most common reason for canine stomach troubles, though, is eating something that doesn’t agree with their system.

In many cases, this is human food. Hill’s Pet explains that even if what they ate isn’t “dangerous,” the oils and fat in people food can be enough to cause some problems. Still, there are human foods that are especially toxic to dogs (via Hill’s Pet). These include:

  • chocolate
  • onions
  • garlic
  • macadamia nuts
  • sugar substitute Xylitol, also marketed as birch sugar
  • grapes and raisins
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • raw dough
  • bones from chicken, meat, fish, etc.
  • avocados

Dairy products can also cause a reaction in some dogs, though not all canines are lactose intolerant. Many other human foods also have the potential to cause problems, especially if your dog has unknown allergies, so sticking to kibble and dog food is really the safest option.

How do I clear my dog’s digestive problems?

If your dog is experiencing mild or moderate vomiting, you can try withholding food for a while. This gives your pup’s system a chance to reset — just make sure not to withhold food for more than 24 hours. You’ll likely need to start a bland diet (think boiled chicken and white rice, for example) once fasting is over.

Encouraging them to stay hydrated is also a must, though too much water at once can cause even more stomach upset. You can solve this by offering small amounts of water at a time or letting your dog lick ice cubes instead of drinking water. Southwind Animal Hospital recommends preparing bone broth for your pet if they’re not motivated to drink water alone.

Another magical home remedy to try is something you can find at any grocery store: canned pumpkin. Katherine Smith, DVM, explains, “It has a low glycemic index, so it slowly absorbs, which helps with upset stomach and digestion.” She also reminds pet parents to double-check the label before feeding their pup. Sugar, spices, and additives can do more harm than good, so your dog should be eating pure pumpkin puree.

A French Bulldog rests his head on the table while begging
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to prevent dog digestive issues

Preventing digestive issues in canines begins with keeping them away from foods that may upset their stomach. Unfortunately, this means no more table scraps. If you can’t help yourself, we recommend having a small portion of their food to feed them from the table.

Probiotics and enzymes are one way to make sure your dog’s gut health stays in check. There are many over-the-counter versions you can invest in, or you can ask your veterinarian for a recommendation. There are probiotic powders, chews, and even drops you can give your pet, too, so you won’t have to struggle with pills.

Abrupt changes in diet can cause stomach upset as well, so make sure any new foods are introduced gradually. You can start by mixing in a bit of new food with their old kibble on day one, and increasing the amount of new food (while decreasing the amount of old food) slowly over the course of a week or two.

No matter what your dog likes to eat, they absolutely can have a nutritionally balanced meal without any ingredients that may upset their stomach. Try not to be discouraged if you don’t find the right foods immediately though — it can take time! Dog digestive issues are no joke, though, so do keep an eye on your fur baby if anything is out of sorts.

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
Does your dog constantly sit on your feet? This is why
Here are the reasons a dog might gravitate toward your feet
A dog sits at the feet of two humans

Watching the funny sitting and sleeping positions our pets come up with has to account for at least half the joy of dog ownership. It seems that our beasties generally gravitate to one area for their naps, whether that's the left side of the bed, under the table, or on top of a human.

While some of this makes sense, it can be surprising when your dog sits on you in a weird way, especially on your feet. So why do dogs lay on your feet? Using your feet as a resting spot has a long history and stems from a few pretty interesting instincts.
Why do dogs lay on your feet?

Read more
Can dogs have watermelon? What to know before summer barbecues
How to prepare this refreshing fruit for dogs
A small black dog stands next to a whole watermelon on a sofa

There are so many reasons to love the summer months, from longer daylight hours to delicious fresh produce. Many fruits and vegetables are in season when the weather warms up, and that means so many more ways to liven up a go-to meal. Some fruits, like watermelon, make a wonderful snack no matter how you prepare them, and it's only natural to want to share this fruit with a begging furry friend.
But can dogs have watermelon? You may already know the answer, but this is what you need to consider before tossing your buddy a bite at the next summer barbecue.

Can dogs have watermelon? What you need to know

Read more
10 human foods that are safe for your dog to devour
Stick with these healthy options so your buddy doesn't get sick
Someone in the background feeds a dog table scraps from the table

We get it, pet parents — it can be hard to resist your fur baby’s begging. With those big, sweet eyes and their heart-melting tricks, how could you not share table scraps with your dog? What’s even trickier, though, is knowing which foods are safe to eat with your dog.
Luckily, there are many people foods that are safe — and even healthy — for dogs to snack on. From meats to produce and even dairy, there's more variety than you may think. These human foods for dogs are easy to find at any grocery store too, so you won’t have to work incredibly hard to keep your pup happy and his tummy full. Maybe you can even share off your plate!
Here are 10 safe human foods for dogs:

1. Cooked chicken, turkey, and beef

Read more