Common Causes of Digestive Issues for Dogs and Cats
Gastrointestinal (GI) issues in cats and dogs are not unusual. Since there are many common causes, being able to recognize sudden changes in your pet’s digestion can help you and your veterinarian provide the best care.
Sources of Digestive Disruption
Your pet can experience digestive issues for a number of reasons. Be familiar with your pet’s daily routine so that you can help determine whether your dog or cat is experiencing an upset stomach or a more serious issue.
- Stress. Dogs and cats can experience GI issues as a result of stress-related anxiety. These can include visits to the vet, separation anxiety, moving to a new home, construction projects, or welcoming a new baby or pet.
- Inappropriate consumption. Human food, garbage, toys, as well as other items, can have negative effects on your pet’s digestive system. In some cases, these can cause serious health issues.
- Changes in diet. A sudden introduction of a new food to your pet can cause an upset stomach.
- Bacterial, viral and intestinal parasites. Places like the park or your favorite neighborhood walking path are often contaminated with intestinal parasites. Bacteria, such as E. Coli and Salmonella, can be contracted through affected food sources.
- Chronic illness. Dogs and cats suffering from chronic diseases may vomit and/or show changes in stool consistency and volume. Visit your veterinarian for additional diagnostics needed to confirm the actual illness.
Consult Your Veterinarian
Cats and dogs having digestive issues can exhibit many symptoms, but the two most noticeable are diarrhea and vomiting. It is important to contact your veterinarian when your pet shows these signs in order to help diagnose the issue and to decide the best treatment. Be prepared to share any details about your pet’s current diet, symptoms, changes in appetite and other helpful information.
How to Prevent GI Issues
You are your pet’s best line of defense against digestive issues. Grooming your cat frequently can help eliminate hairballs. Teaching your dog to “leave it,” will help limit scavenging habits. You can also take additional steps to help protect your pet’s digestive health:
- Minimize stress. Reduce the amount of anxiety your pet experiences. Always try to introduce any environmental or household changes slowly to allow your dog or cat to become more easily acclimated.
- Pet food only. Don’t allow anyone to feed table scraps to cats and dogs. Also remove your pet’s access to garbage or easily ingestible, small items.
- Gradually introduce new food. Rather than suddenly feeding a new food to your dog or cat, mix portions of both the new and the old food together over a period of seven to ten days. Start with a smaller portion of the new food and then gradually increase it as you decrease the portion of old food.
- Ongoing vet visits. Help keep your pet healthy by visiting your veterinarian regularly.