Your dog can get an upset stomach, just like you can. While you might take a pain pill, sip some ginger ale, or nibble on a few plain crackers in an effort to find relief, these solutions aren't exactly viable for your dog.
So, what do you do when your dog has an upset stomach? And how can you tell that Fido's tummy is upset in the first place?
It turns out that there are plenty of reasons why a dog might have an upset stomach. There are also some typical signs of gastrointestinal discomfort or distress that dog owners can be on the lookout for.
Let's examine some of the common causes of upset stomach in dogs as well as the signs of an upset stomach. Then, we'll learn how to soothe your dog's upset stomach at home and when it's best to call the vet's office for help.
Causes of Upset Stomach in Dogs
Dogs can get indigestion just like you can. This might happen if your pooch eats too much food or a dog food their digestive system isn't used to. Indigestion will definitely give your dog a stomach ache, but it usually isn't a medical emergency. Your dog's stomach will probably be uncomfortable for a bit before the episode passes.
Indigestion is one of the most common causes of upset stomach in dogs, but it isn't the only one. Some other causes of an upset stomach or stomach problems include:
- Ingestion of a foreign substance or object (human food, garbage, dirt, socks, etc.)
- Bacterial imbalance in the digestive tract
- Food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities
- Disease (parvovirus, kidney disease, gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, etc.)
- Ingestion of toxins or poisons
- Infection (intestinal parasites, bacterial infection, etc.)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Whatever the cause of your dog's upset stomach, it's important to know what to watch for so that you can tell your dog is feeling discomfort. So, what are the symptoms of a dog with an upset stomach?
Symptoms of Upset Stomach in Dogs
Your dog can't exactly tell you when he or she has an upset stomach. So, it's up to you to watch for the signs. That way, you can take the necessary action quickly so that your dog can get back to feeling like themselves.
Some common signs of upset stomach in dogs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Depression or lethargy
- Frequent stretching (especially bowing down with the front legs)
- Licking of the lips
Of course, many of these symptoms could be caused by a wide variety of medical issues. How do you know when and how to react?
If there is an obvious cause of Fido's symptoms like a foreign body ingestion or exposure to a toxin, you should call your vet immediately. Otherwise, keep a close eye on your dog's symptoms to see how they progress or abate over time. You can try some home remedies (described below). If that doesn't work, it's time to get your vet's opinion.
If you see symptoms like obvious and increasing discomfort (whining, yelping, retching, etc.), bloating, more than one episode of vomiting or diarrhea, blood in the vomit or stool, collapse, or weight loss, take your dog to the veterinary emergency room as quickly as possible.
Home Remedies for Fido's Upset Stomach
If you think your dog has an upset stomach but it isn't a serious or life-threatening issue, there are several home remedies you can try. These simple steps can often make your dog's upset tummy go away all without ever leaving the house.
Temporarily Withhold Food
When the gastrointestinal system is upset and trying to expel something, adding more to it isn't helpful. That's why withholding food for 12-24 hours is a common solution for a dog's upset stomach. It gives the system time to rest and recover. Always ask your vet before withholding food from your dog, though — some breeds cannot tolerate fasting as well as others.
Often, a bland diet is given after a period of fasting. Bland foods for dogs usually include plain, fully cooked chicken and plain white rice. These foods are easy for your dog's system to digest, so they're suitable for sensitive stomachs. Just make sure to cut the chicken up into small pieces so that your dog doesn't choke. And be sure to ask your vet before feeding your dog a bland diet of any kind — it's always best to get the go-ahead before feeding your pet any human food.
Ice Chips or Ice Cubes
If you're withholding food from your dog because of an upset stomach, it's easy for them to get dehydrated. That's even more likely if they've vomited. Giving Fido a few ice chips or ice cubes is a good way to keep their hydration levels in check while soothing your dog's tummy.
Plain canned pumpkin is commonly recommended as a way to relieve constipation in dogs, and it can also help with an upset stomach. Pumpkin is high in fiber, which helps to regulate the digestive process, and it also offers the immune system nutrients like vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Ask your vet about giving your pooch a few small tablespoons of canned pumpkin to alleviate a sore stomach.
Try mixing Native Pet's powdered pumpkin formula with water to make an easy pumpkin paste that your dog will love. It can also help to regulate Fido's digestive health and ease an upset tummy.
Feeding your dog bone broth is a good way to soothe an upset stomach while hydrating your dog and giving them a nutritional boost at the same time. This kind of liquid meal is easy on your dog's system. It's the same reason we tend to eat broth or chicken soup when we're feeling sick. Bone broth also replenishes some of those electrolytes that your dog lost if they've been vomiting.
You can make your own bone broth by looking up a recipe, or you can purchase a ready-made version like Native Pet's bone broth topper. It can be used to rehydrate dry food or as a liquid meal all on its own.
Your dog's gut is a complex microbiome with all sorts of good and bad bacteria living in it. When the balance of this bacteria is off, it can cause an upset stomach. You might consider maintaining your dog's healthy gut microbiome by giving them a probiotic supplement. Native Pet's probiotic powder is a great choice — it creates a thriving environment for healthy flora in the gut and can help avoid an upset stomach before it starts.
What to Do About Your Dog's Upset Stomach
Even perfectly healthy dogs are sure to get an upset stomach at some point or another. Most of the time, the cause is something fairly simple, like indigestion. It's also possible for something more serious to cause stomach issues, like intestinal parasites, food allergies, disease, or stress.
For minor cases of upset stomach, you can try the home remedies described above: Withholding food for a time and then introducing a bland diet (ask your vet for specifics), giving ice cubes or chips, offering canned pumpkin or bone broth, and keeping your dog on a probiotic supplement to promote good gut health. For stress, try our Calm Chew, which is specially formulated to help with anxiety.
If your dog's upset stomach is more severe, it's time to call the vet. Digestive issues or other medical ailments could be to blame. When you see symptoms like increasing discomfort, bloating or a noticeably distended abdomen, more than one episode of vomiting or diarrhea, bloody diarrhea or vomit, or collapse, get your dog to the vet's office.
For more insights into your dog's health and wellness needs, check out the Native Pet blog.