What to Know When Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach: Signs to Look For; Common Causes; Home Remedies; and When to Go to the Vet

What to Know When Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach: Signs to Look For; Common Causes; Home Remedies; and When to Go to the Vet

What to Know When Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach: Signs to Look For; Common Causes; Home Remedies; and When to Go to the Vet

Dogs get upset stomachs just like humans do, but it’s often hard to determine what the cause is or what can be done to help remedy the issue. Since our dogs can’t tell us what their symptoms are, it’s important to be on the lookout for certain signs which could give us clues about a dog’s ailment.

As a dog owner, it’s also helpful to know what kinds of home remedies can help your pup if they have an upset tummy. This knowledge can help you soothe your pup without having to take a trip to the vet; however, going to the vet is sometimes necessary depending on how severe your dog’s condition is.

In this post, we’ll disclose some useful information that can be beneficial if your dog has an upset stomach. We’ll help you know what signs to look for and what the common causes of a dog’s upset stomach are. We’ll also provide you with some remedies you can try at home and help you know when it’s time to take your pup to the vet.

It’s important to note that we are not veterinarians, and we cannot “treat” your dog or provide professional medical advice or care for your dog’s aliment, but we can provide you with some helpful tips and useful knowledge to better care for your dog!

Signs to Look for If Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach

Dogs are a lot like kids. They eat things they aren’t supposed to when you’re not looking. They might also eat too fast or exert too much energy after they’ve eaten, causing them to get sick.

The most common and obvious signs that your dog has an upset stomach are vomiting or diarrhea. If your pup throws up or has diarrhea, don’t be alarmed just yet!

These two signs are the body’s natural way of cleansing and expelling an unwanted substance out of the system. In this sense, it’s completely normal and even healthy for your dog to vomit or have diarrhea because this means their system is working correctly to clean itself.

Of course, you don’t want these problems to persist. If your dog experiences vomiting or diarrhea more than once, there could be other problems causing their stomachs to be messed up.

Things that might cause an upset stomach include:

  • Eating a substance that they shouldn’t
  • Sensitivity to food
  • Bacterial infection or imbalance in the digestive system
  • Nervousness due to stress or an unusual break in routine

There are several things that could cause your pup’s tummy to be unbalanced. Something as simple as changing their food can cause a dog’s stomach to be messed up if they are sensitive to a specific ingredient.

Even if your dog doesn’t experience vomiting or diarrhea, here are other symptoms of an upset stomach to watch out for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Licking lips or other objects
  • Drinking less water
  • Fatigue
  • Eating grass
  • Stretching more often; inability to be comfortable
  • Depression
  • Excessive sleeping or laying down

If you notice any of these signs, there’s a good chance that your dog has an upset stomach even if they aren’t vomiting or have diarrhea.

Home Remedies for Your Pup’s Upset Stomach

When your dog shows any of these symptoms, there’s not always a reason to go to the vet. Sometimes, the problems can be fixed right at home unless your dog is in extreme discomfort or their symptoms persist.

We recommend that you do contact your vet before administering any home remedies just to have a profession’s opinion. If they agree that you should try at-home treatment instead of having a full veterinarian consultation, here are a few suggestions for soothing your dog’s tummy at home:

Fast Your Dog for 12 to 24 Hours

While it might seem harsh to not fed your dog for a whole day, this can be very beneficial. When humans are sick, we often lose our appetites and only drink liquids until we feel we can keep food down. The same could go for your dog.

If your dog’s digestive system is working to clean itself, putting more food in the gastrointestinal system makes it work that much harder to cleanse itself.

Consult your vet about the appropriate amount of time to try fasting your dog based on the breed.

When the fasting process is over, your dog will have a “blank stomach” and they are more likely to keep food down. This leads us into our next suggestion which is feeding them a bland diet.

Giving a Bland Diet

A bland diet includes food such as boiled rice and cooked white chicken with no skin or bones. You could also give them extra-lean hamburger meant, but white chicken will be gentler on their stomachs.

Start with small doses of this diet – don’t give them a full portion. Gradually increase the amount every few hours if they keep it down. When your pup shows improvement, begin adding in their regular food with the bland diet. Wein them off the bland diet gradually until they are just eating their regular food. If this takes a few days, that’s okay. This will help re-balance their digestive system.

Also, try a dog food that has probiotics in it after you finish with the bland diet. Probiotics contain bacteria that’s good for the digestive tract, and these ingredients will help boost your pup’s immune system.

There are some brands of bland diet dog food that have dehydrated ingredients such as dried rice and chicken, and some brands have probiotics already in the mix. 

Feeding Your Pup Gentle Foods

You can also try giving your pup foods to help soothe their stomachs and firm up their stool. Some foods that are gentle on your dog’s stomach include:

  • Canned pumpkin (plain)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Unsweetened yogurt (plain)

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

It’s very easy for your dog to become dehydrated when they experience digestive discomfort. While your dog is fasting or having very small meals or snacks to help soothe their stomachs, give them ice cubes to ensure they are staying hydrated.

Too much water can overwhelm the stomach, so rather than giving them a bowl of water, give them ice cubes regularly.

Dehydration can be a serious problem for dogs, so if they refuse to drink or eat ice cubes, take them to the vet immediately if they do not show improvement within 24 hours.

When is it Time to Go to the Vet?

       If you believe your pup is dehydrated, they must go to the vet to ensure their condition doesn’t worsen. Other signs you should contact your vet or take your dog in for an exam include:

  • Worsening symptoms (increased vomiting or diarrhea; increased discomfort; refusal to eat or drink after 24 hours).
  • Blood in stool or vomit
  • Increased weakness; fainting or collapse

If your dog’s condition worsens, there could be something more severe going on than a simple case of an upset stomach. Serious illnesses might include:

  • Bloat
  • Pancreatitis
  • Internal parasites
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Cancer

If your dog does not show improvement in 24-48 hours after home-treatment, contact your vet immediately so they can give your dog a full exam. Remember, if your dog shows a sign of an upset stomach, don’t assume the worst, but remember to monitor them closely and notify your vet if symptoms persist.

Bottom Line

It’s normal for dogs to get an upset tummy every once in a while, especially if they are under some stress, they’re nervous, or they eat something they shouldn’t.

If your dog’s routine is broken or they develop a sensitive stomach, they are likely to show signs of stress colitis or indigestion – both of which are nothing to be concerned about unless symptoms worsen.

 As we stated before, we are not vets and cannot provide professional medical treatment or advice; however, we hope that these suggestions have helped you understand more about upset stomachs for dogs and will help you be prepared if your pup experiences these issues.

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us via phone or email! 

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  • Kirsten Starling