Even the healthiest pup can develop bowel problems. While occasional tummy troubles do not necessarily indicate a serious condition, if you have any worries at all, don't hesitate to take your pup to a qualified veterinarian. Only a vet can diagnose a problem and determine a proper treatment.
Common and Uncommon Problems
Vomiting and diarrhea are two of the most common digestion problems a pup will experience in her life. They may indicate a serious condition, but often they're a result of your pup eating something that disagrees with her, taking certain types of medication or even being stressed. Constipation is less common. If your pooch is drinking plenty of fresh, clean water and getting enough exercise, she shouldn't be constipated. Watch your dog's bowel movements closely. If she strains to defecate, has prolonged bouts of diarrhea -- especially if it smells unusually foul -- or isn't having bowel movements at all, don't hesitate. Let a vet examine your precious pooch.
At some point, your precious pooch may develop an icky intestinal problem: parasites. If your dog eats infected fleas or small critters -- no more chasing bunnies! -- or comes into contact with contaminated soil or bedding, chances are she'll need a good dewormer. Some parasites, such as roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms, infest the small intestine. Other parasites, such as whipworms, primarily infect the large intestine. When these creepy-crawlies invade, they may cause vomiting, diarrhea, straining or a pot-bellied appearance. A veterinarian can determine the culprit by testing your dog's stool.
Sometimes what seems like a simple bowel problem -- diarrhea, for example -- indicates a serious condition. Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, a disease related to the immune system, causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting. If your pup has this disease, she needs immediate medical help, lest she become dehydrated and die. Irritable bowel disease and colitis share diarrhea as a symptom. IBD also leads to weight loss and vomiting. With colitis, your poor pup's stool may be streaked with blood or mucus, but it doesn't typically pose a serious health risk.
Keep your beloved pup's gut healthy by feeding him a high-quality, nutritious food. If she's an adult, your dog needs a diet made up of at least 5 percent fat and 18 percent protein. If your pooch is still a wiggly puppy, she'll need a diet of 22 to 32 percent protein and 8 to 15 percent fat. Make sure she's drinking fresh water, eliminating two to three times per day and getting plenty of exercise. Keep her free of fleas -- and thus tapeworms -- and visit a veterinarian for regular checkups.
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