All Things Dog

Common diseases in older dogs: Digestive problems

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One of the many changes your senior dog goes through as he ages is in the digestive process. The digestive system of the older dog is less efficient than it was when he was younger, making it more difficult to break down foods and absorb them into the body.

One of the digestive problems older dogs face is constipation. Often, adding more bulk or fiber to your dog's diet can help alleviate this problem. Adding more fiber will not only loosen stools, it will help your dog better absorb needed nutrients. If you're hesitant to change your dog's diet too much, you can simply try adding a bit of wheat bran to your dog's food. However, if constipation continues to be a problem, you should consult with your veterinarian.

Another problem that's probably more embarrassing to you than it is to your dog is flatulence. While it's a natural part of your dog's digestive process, the tendency to pass gas increases as your dog ages.

There are a number of ways you can help decrease your dog's intestinal gas:

  • Check your dog food label. Many dog foods contain soy, which can be hard to digest.

  • Cut out table scraps. Not only do table scraps put your dog on the path to obesity, it can also stir up gas in the digestive tract.

  • Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. Exercise not only helps move intestinal gas, it may also simulate bowel movements.

  • Raise your dog's food dish. Elevating your dog's dish means he's not bending his neck down as far, which can lead to swallowing too much air.

  • Switching your dog over to a new food too quickly will also cause stomach upset, usually in the form of diarrhea. Instead, make it a gradual process, adding a small amount of the new food to your dog's old food. It should take about four to five days before you've made the full switch to the new food. If your dog has diarrhea and you haven't made any changes to your dog's diet, consult your vet immediately. Diarrhea is often a symptom of a more serious problem and should be treated right away.
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