Science Happens

Learn about managing digestive issues and how a therapeutic diet based in scientific research can help.

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Common Causes:

Common Causes of Digestive Issues

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. Learn More...

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.

Clinical Signs:

Your pet’s medical history is a very important first step to identifying the cause of your pet’s symptoms. Be sure to inform the veterinarian of all current symptoms, including any changes in diet or behavior and any incidents possibly related to your pet’s current digestive issues.

  • Decrease in energy and appetite. Your pet may show signs of weakness and/or loss of appetite.
  • Obvious signs. Diarrhea and vomiting are the two most common signs of digestive issues. Dogs suffering from diarrhea can exhibit a sense of urgency to go outside or have accidents inside the house. Changes in elimination frequency, vomiting and decreased appetite are excellent clues to any digestive disruptions.
  • Eating habits. Sudden introductions of new food can trigger GI issues. Your pet’s access to any human food, garbage or other non-food items can also create digestive disruptions or possible obstructions.
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There are several diet options for cats and dogs with gastrointestinal disease. When pets have acute or chronic gastrointestinal disease, diet options include therapeutic diets or home-cooked diets.

Therapeutic gastrointestinal diets are recommended and dispensed by your veterinarian. These options are complete and balanced, meaning that they provide all essential nutrients in the proper amounts, without excesses or deficiencies. In addition, therapeutic gastrointestinal diets will have added functional nutrients such as prebiotics and will have a nutrient profile tailored to the needs of a pet with gastrointestinal disease. There are different types of GI diets available depending on what the cat or dog needs from a protein, fat, fiber, and calorie standpoint.

On the other hand, home-cooked diets can have variable nutrient content and are rarely complete and balanced for a cat or dog. For example, home-prepared diets are frequently deficient in calcium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients and can be excessive in other nutrients, depending on the recipe. Depending on the type and cut of meat used, as well as the presence or absence of skin, the nutrient profile of a home-cooked diet can vary significantly. In certain gastrointestinal cases, such as a dog with pancreatitis, inadvertently feeding a meat source with increased fat content could be detrimental to the patient’s recovery.

If your cat or dog has acute or chronic gastrointestinal issues, visit your veterinarian and have a conversation about how a therapeutic gastrointestinal diet can help your pet.

Tips for Preventing Digestive Problems in Pets

  • Reduce stress. Minimize your pet’s stress by providing a stable living environment and by preventing unpleasant interactions and experiences. Gradually introduce new experiences to your pet, such as the introduction of a new pet, move to a new home, or lifestyle change.
  • Introduce new foods gradually. If you are changing your pet’s diet, mix a small amount of the new food with the previous food, increasing the proportion of new food over a period of 7 to 10 days.
  • Visit your veterinarian regularly. Schedule annual or biannual veterinary wellness visits for your pet. These typically include a complete physical examination along with needed vaccinations, a fecal examination for intestinal parasites, and an examination of your pet’s skin and coat for external parasites.


  • Nutritional philosophy based on the science of nutrients over ingredients
  • Product philosophy of precise nutrition for size, lifestyle, breed, and therapeutic condition
  • Founded by a veterinarian, ROYAL CANIN continues to involve the veterinary community, employing a large network of veterinarians and specialists worldwide
  • ROYAL CANIN® diets are manufactured exclusively in company-owned plants
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed for palatability and digestibility
Sources of Digestive Disruption
  • 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.