It is never pleasant when your dog is sick. This is particularly true when your pet has an upset stomach. It can be distressing for the animal as well as for you. So it is useful to know some of the causes of this condition, and what to do about it when it occurs.
What Are The Common Causes Of An Upset Stomach In Dogs?
While there can be quite a few reasons this can occur, the most usual is that your furry friend ate something inappropriate. Unfortunately, dogs are well known to like picking up things in their mouths, and sometimes they swallow them as well.
If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea - both symptoms of an upset tummy - this is your dog’s system trying to get rid of the particular thing your dog ate that wasn’t right for your pet. This is a sign of a healthy dog - because its body is trying to protect itself against something it does not want.
Sometimes your dog might have this problem because it is stressed or anxious.
Bacterial imbalances in your pet’s gut or food sensitivities might also be the cause. A sudden change in diet might explain your pet’s tummy troubles also.
It is possible that your dog has a viral infection, or might have bloat. Another possibility is a gastrointestinal parasite.
More serious causes could be cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, or pancreatitis.
If you have been traveling in a car or on a bus with your dog, they might have motion sickness.
If you cannot easily pinpoint the cause of the stomach troubles (eg, a change in diet, or the dog has eaten something it should not have), and you are concerned, consult your vet. This is particularly if diarrhea or vomiting goes on for a long time.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has An Upset Stomach?
Aside from vomiting or diarrhea, your dog may eat grass to try to soothe their upset stomach.
Your pet might also dry-retch if it has an upset stomach.
It is likely that your dog will be very lethargic and tired and have very little appetite.
Dogs may also lick their lips a lot and drool.
What Should I Give My Dog?
The first thing to do is to stop feeding your dog for or half a day, or for 24 hours unless your vet suggests a different time period. Eating might make your pet’s upset tummy worse, so they should stay off food for a little while.
It is also probably a good idea to swap ice chips for your dog’s water bowl. This is because it is not wise for your dog to drink too much water when it has tummy troubles. Dogs tend to gulp water when they have trouble with their stomach, and it is not good for them to do this. You can give your dog ice chips every two to three hours. The ice chips will help ensure your dog does not get dehydrated, which can be very serious, causing organ failure and death in worst case scenarios.
If the ice cubes are kept down, you could start reintroducing small quantities of water. You could also consider a rehydration formula - i.e., a mixture of electrolytes and vitamins - as this will help your pet retain fluid. Also, when your dog has stopped vomiting, you can give your pet small amounts of water, but keep going with the ice chips.
Once you are sure that your pet is no longer vomiting and can keep the water down, you can start to give food again, but only in small quantities. : You don’t want to reignite your dog’s upset stomach. One to two tablespoons of food - depending on your pet’s size - would be appropriate. Your dog should only be on a very bland diet at this point.
Foods that can be given include and which your pet might like after these tummy troubles are::
- Chicken and rice - these are good, mild dog food, with the chicken giving the protein your dog needs. Make sure there is no skin on the chicken, and remove any fatty bits. Boil the chicken thoroughly and feed in small quantities mixed with rice. Do not add salt, pepper, or any other seasoning to the chicken and rice.
- You could also feed your dog just plain boiled shredded chicken, again with no seasonings added. This is very good food for your dog’s stomach as it can be digested easily. Shredded chicken contains minerals, amino acids, fats, and essential vitamins and is great dog food when your pet has had tummy troubles.
- Pumpkin is another possible food to give your pet. Canned pumpkin is fine or cooked without the peel, and with no added salt or seasoning can also be given. Some people add a small amount of ginger to the canned pumpkin. Pumpkin is high in fiber and helps your dog’s digestive system to work properly. It also contains plenty of useful vitamins and minerals your dog may need to recover.
- Bone broth is great for dogs who have had a bad stomach. You can make this by simmering meat that is still on the bone with apple cider vinegar and water. When the meat comes off the bone, keep simmering the bones for a while. Bone broth can take a while to make, but is a good food-based home remedy. It is very delicious for your pet, as well as being nutritious.
- Baby food is another option to help your pet feel better after an upset stomach. You could try banana baby food, or chicken or turkey-based baby food - but do check that the meat-based ones do not contain garlic or onion powder as this might lead to more tummy issues.
When these foods are kept down, you can increase the quantities offered slowly. After a while, if no problems occur, you can then begin to reintroduce small amounts of pet food as well as the above bland diet foods. Then you can gradually resume the animal’s normal feeding patterns after about a week.
When To Be Seriously Concerned About A Dog’s Upset Stomach
Sometimes a dog’s upset tummy can be considerably more serious and might end up being an emergency.
If your pet regularly has these digestive problems, or the vomiting and diarrhea last for longer than 24 hours, you should consult a vet.
If you check your pet’s temperature and it is very high (normal temperature is around 99-102 degrees Fahrenheit), your pet will need to see a vet.
If you know that your pet has eaten a “foreign object” - such as a plant, a toy, or something chemical, you will need to make sure your pet has not been poisoned, by visiting the vet. Signs that your pet has eaten something like this are usually a painful, swollen or bloated stomach. While you are at the vet’s, ask about how to make sure your home is poison-proof, so that the same thing does not happen again.
If you see blood in your pet’s poop or when they vomit, this is also a cause for concern. Take the animal to the vet as soon as possible. If your pet has pale gums along with these tummy issues, this is another reason to take the animal to the vet. Dogs with pale gums and gastric issues might have anemia or pneumonia.
If your pet is very lethargic or weak, like not coming for food, or for a treat, you should go to the vet. Equally, dogs that will not eat or drink for more than 24 hours should also be taken to the vet.
If your pet is diabetic and has been vomiting or has diarrhea, you will need to see a vet to give the animal the required insulin, as you cannot give insulin during these kinds of digestive disturbances.
If your pet is old, very young, or chronically unwell, an upset stomach can be very serious, because these types of animals are more fragile anyway. Consult your vet as soon as possible.
Don’t try to provide home remedies for your pet in these types of situations. These could make the dog’s stomach worse, or cause other issues. Instead, take the animal to a vet as soon as you can.