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Has your pooch caught a bit of the stomach bug? Is it coming out the front, the back or even both ends?!
Digestive upset is one of the most common canine ailments. Almost every dog owner has experienced a time when their dog has had vomiting or diarrhea. Sometimes these problems will resolve on their own, while others will result in a trip to the vet hospital for urgent care.
Knowing what to do when your dog is sick does not always come naturally, so we’re supplying you with the need-to-know info on what to do when your dog’s tummy acts up.
Upset stomachs in dogs are generally characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, and/or nausea.
These signs can be caused by a vast amount of diseases and illnesses that affect the digestive tract. Some of the most common causes of stomach upset are:
The most common signs of an upset stomach are:
Generally, when we suspect that dogs have an upset stomach, we want to stop offering food and water. We do this because we want to lessen the irritation in the stomach and digestive tract. Often, the best way to do this is to ensure that the digestive tract is completely empty.
It may seem counterintuitive to stop giving water to a dog with vomiting or diarrhea, but giving water can sometimes further aggravate your dog’s upset stomach. This will cause more vomiting and diarrhea, which we want to avoid. Sometimes, fasting is the best medicine.
If vomiting or diarrhea persist, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
NOTE: While this process works well for adult dogs with upset stomachs, young puppies and diabetic dogs should not be fasted for prolonged periods of time due to drops in blood sugar. Vomiting in these animals requires urgent veterinary attention as it may be a sign of a more serious issue.
Dehydration is also a serious concern when your dog is ill. Chronic or frequent vomiting can cause pets to become dehydrated very quickly.
It is important to make sure your pet remains hydrated by continuously offering small amounts of fluids or ice chips. Learn more about the signs of dehydration and rehydrating your dog with Pedialyte here.
If your pet cannot keep down any fluids, do not continue to offer water. At this point, your pet either needs time to allow his stomach to settle, or he requires medical intervention in the form of fluid therapy or anti-nausea medication.
Dogs with digestive upset should be fed a bland diet. These diets consist of easily digestible proteins and carbohydrates that should not further irritate the stomach.
The most common proteins to offer are:
All of these items should be free of bone, seasoning, fat, and should be boiled in water until cooked thoroughly.
Easily digestible carbohydrates include:
The diet should consist of one-part protein to two parts carbohydrates.
If your dog does not like the bland diet, you can try a few tricks to entice him to eat:
For some home remedies and vet approved protocols for dogs with an upset stomach, check out Pet Helpful, with more tasty stomach-soothing ideas.
This video from Pet Plus explains a bit more about what to feed your dog when they have an upset tummy!
Prescription diets for digestive upset are available through your veterinarian. While not inexpensive, these are a convenient way to offer a bland diet and saves you the hassle of running to the grocery store and preparing a whole meal.
Dogs who regularly get upset stomachs may need to go on a special prescription diet permanetly, in which case you’ll need to talk to your vet about which kind of prescription dog food is best for your dog’s unique needs.
With an upset stomach, the bacteria that assist with digestion can go a little haywire. Probiotics work by re-establishing the beneficial bacteria in the gut. These supplements are wonderful to help resolve diarrhea in cases of bacterial imbalance.
Probiotics are commonly sold in veterinary practices. Some common products are:
Ask your veterinarian if probiotic supplements are appropriate for your dog’s condition. I always keep Fortiflora packets on hand just in case.
There are several situations where an upset stomach is considered an emergency:
No, you shouldn’t give your dog medication for an upset stomach unless stated otherwise by your veterinarian.
Human medications are often toxic to our dogs and can cause further problems. Even animal medications should not be administered unless prescribed by a veterinarian.
Without knowing the cause of the vomiting, medication cannot safely be given. Some medications designed to treat general digestive upset can cause further complications and actually worsen the condition.
Disclaimer: The content within this article should not replace any recommendations given by your veterinarian. Whenever vomiting or diarrhea occurs, you should seek veterinary guidance first.
Have you ever had a sick pup on your hands? What methods did you use to resolve an upset stomach?
Paula is a second year veterinary student who has worked in the field for several years. She is passionate about sharing her pet knowledge. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her best friend Liberty!