4 Vet-Approved Ways to Treat Common Digestive Issues in Dogs

According to a study of nearly 4,000 dogs, three of the most common reasons for digestive issues in dogs are vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Chances are, as a pup parent, this is not news to you. Given that stomach troubles in dogs account for 10 percent of veterinary visits, you’ve likely had your fair share of doggie digestive woes. Fortunately, with the right diet and treatment, there are ways to give your dog ongoing relief from gastrointestinal tract (GI) issues.

Identifying the underlying cause of your dog’s digestive issues is obviously important. A visit to your veterinarian is probably called for. That being said, there are several things you can do at home to help get your pet’s GI tract back on track.

1. Fasting

The first line of defense against a digestive issue? Fast your dog from any food for 12-24 hours, while still allowing access to water. (But if your dog can’t keep water down, then visit your vet as soon as possible.)

Vomiting and diarrhea are usually protective mechanisms to help get rid of pathogens, food, or toxins that don’t agree with your dog’s digestive system. Fasting allows time for these substances to be removed and for any associated GI inflammation to subside.

2. Offer bland food

Once your pup is showing signs of improvement for 12 hours or so, you can then offer food that is easily digestible.

Side note: did you know the so-called go-to “bland” meal of chicken and rice is not actually recommended? Rice can be difficult for some dogs to digest and can actually be pro-inflammatory. Instead, try a lean cooked meat mixed with an equal part of soluble fiber, like mashed sweet potato or organic canned pumpkin – known to have a balancing effect on the digestive tract.

Start with a small amount. If the dog gobbles this up, without digestive upset, then gradually increase the size of each bland meal. If after 24-48 hours your dog’s stomach seems stable, begin to add a small amount of their regular food to the mix. Continue this slow transition to their normal diet by adjusting according to how your dog is tolerating it.

3. Reduce inflammation

Regardless of the cause of a dog’s digestive troubles, inflammation of their gastrointestinal tract is almost always a big piece of the puzzle. This is where a tried and trusted animal health supplement comes into play.

Look for a GI-supportive supplement that contains demulcent herbs – natural remedies that soothe and coat irritated intestinal mucous membranes. Slippery elm bark and licorice root are two such demulcents – and two important ingredients in ThorneVet’s Gastriplex.

Glutamine, an amino acid also present in Gastriplex, is another go-to ingredient for reducing inflammation of the GI tract.

4. Repopulate with beneficial bugs

A healthy, balanced microbiome (the population of bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses in every animal’s intestines – ours too!) is key to both digestive and overall immune system health. It is important to re-populate your pup’s gut microbiome with healthy bacteria to restore a normal microbiome after a digestive issue. This is especially true if your vet prescribed an antibiotic to treat the problem.

Enter probiotics – yes, something of a buzzword in the treatment of GI issues in both humans and animals. The key, though, is to find a stable sporulated or soil-based probiotic, which includes among its GI-supportive ingredients:

  • Bacillus coagulans – a stable probiotic effective in creating a healthy probiotic population in the gut. (Try ThorneVet’s Bacillus CoagulansVET.)
  • Saccharomyces boulardii – a non-pathogenic yeast strain of probiotic known to counteract issues caused by antibiotic meds.

Follow these simple treatments and add the right animal health supplements to your dog’s diet to give your beloved pet with ongoing relief from a misery-inducing tummy trouble.


Dr. Keith Weingardt is a 1999 graduate of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed acupuncture certification from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2004 and certification in herbal medicine at the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in 2006. He has started successful integrative veterinary practices in San Diego, CA and Portland, OR. He is a dedicated herbalist and enjoys working with the plants of the Pacific Northwest. Currently, he works as a consultant for ThorneVet, specializing in product development and continuing education.