Digestive Problems

Golden Retrievers are the ultimate scavengers. They absolutely love to eat just about anything they can fit their mouths around. This causes problems with their intestinal tracts, which often can't quite keep up with the barrage of new and delicious delicacies. Be it acorns, grass, leaves, mulch, tissues, paper, wrappers, leftovers, or stuff that they find on their walks, a Golden will just about eat anything. The dog's digestive system is designed to take a lot of punishment, but sometimes it has had enough. It lets the rest of the body know it by presenting itself as diarrhea, vomiting, and sometimes lethargy. If you have a Golden whose frequent raiding rampages land him with a sick tummy, there are lots of things you can do to help him get his belly back on track. Try these tricks:

  • Withhold food for twelve hours to help him empty out his system.

  • Give an adult dog one adult dose of an antidiarrhea pill (such as Imodium); give a child's dose for puppies sixteen weeks and up.

  • Allow access to plenty of fresh water.

  • Give plain boiled (not instant) rice with plain boiled chicken or hamburger for the next meal.

  • Continue this until the stool is firm again and there is no vomiting.

  • Gradually wean back to dog food by mixing it in with each meal.

Watch your dog closely for signs that the problem is more serious, in which case it might require veterinary attention. If your dog vomits after eating, is extremely lethargic with a painful belly, or vomits or has diarrhea more than a few times in a row, have your vet take a look.

Intestinal blockages are very common in dogs that tend to eat things that they shouldn't, and Goldens are likely candidates. Keep track of what your dog is eating, and train him to leave it when he has something he shouldn't. Dogs that are blocked usually vomit after eating and become very lethargic. This situation requires immediate attention, including X-rays and possibly surgery, so don't delay getting your dog to the vet if you think he has eaten something that is stuck.

There are lots of causes of diarrhea and vomiting. If you own a dog — like a Golden — that likes to scavenge, it's easy to get a little blasé about it. You should still be careful. There are many serious problems that can manifest themselves with diarrhea and vomiting in the initial stages, and these should be ruled out if there is any question.

Socks, plastic bags, and cellophane are common culprits of intestinal blockages. These are more dangerous because they are difficult to detect on an X-ray.

Pancreatitis is another condition that requires prompt veterinary attention. It can be the result of eating very greasy, rich food, like the drippings from the turkey or garbage that has been sitting around a while. Because there is often no way to tell if the diarrhea and vomiting in your dog is just something small or the symptom of a more serious problem, it is important to stay alert and monitor your dog closely.

If you have any question at all about whether you should take your dog for medical attention, call your vet and describe your problem. The staff will be able to tell you how long it is safe to wait before having your dog seen.

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