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My Dog has an Upset Stomach – What Could be Wrong

Picture of a sick dog on the floor

Dogs can have upset stomachs just like humans and a broad variety of other animal species, as well. Most dogs that suffer from indigestion or that get an upset tummy will resort to eating grass. This is a natural behavior that somewhat alleviates the animal’s discomfort. While it is a protective and instinctual response, eating grass doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, in some cases.

It can be quite disturbing for a pet parent to have to deal with such an issue, so in this article, we’ll describe some causes of upset stomachs in dogs, some of the signs that you’ll notice, as well as some methods that you can use to treat your canine friend at home.

What could be wrong?

There are a variety of reasons why dogs experience upset stomachs, but there are culprits that are more common than others. Let’s look at some of them.

Diet changes

Whether your veterinarian has recommended that you switch to another brand of dry food or you’ve decided this on your own, the truth is that making such a change can cause a variety of problems, especially when it happens suddenly. It is, therefore, advised that you integrate the new kibble into your dog’s diet gradually so that it doesn’t cause any digestive disturbances.

Keep in mind that some dogs have quite sensitive guts, so what that means is that even small changes can mess their system and make them sick.

Eating too slow or too fast

Unlike cats or other animals, dogs can get overly excited when it comes to food, so they can eat too fast, or on the contrary, too slow. When they eat too fast, or when they drink water too quickly, they are at a high risk of developing bloat. Avoid feeding your dog just once or twice a day, and keep the portions average. It is a better idea to feed your dog three or four times a day and give them small meals.

Naturally, all dogs are predisposed to chewing on a variety of non-edible things – whether that’s your shoes or something else. Plastic and fuzz can cause real problems (such as blockages) so avoid keeping them in a place where your dog can reach them. Give your dog several chew toys and treats to try to solve the issue.  

Spoiled food or table scraps

Dogs just aren’t made to eat the same things that we do, and the American diet can do them a lot of harm. They have a delicate constitution, and while people eat food that’s perhaps too rich for their systems and don’t get anything, that doesn’t happen with our canine friends. That means that feeding your dog things like butter, fat meals, fried (and salty) foods and a variety of other things in this category can upset his or her stomach. Dogs can become violently sick from eating contaminated meat or spoiled veggies. And that can happen easily if your canine friend is in the habit of rooting around in the garbage.

Stress

If you’re moving house or traveling long-distance with your pooch and you’ve never done that before, your dog is likely to become stressed or anxious. In this case, your dog could try to eat grass or stop eating altogether. Bad weather can cause an upset stomach, too, especially if there are thunderstorms and your dog is afraid of them.

Dehydration

Dogs are quite susceptible to occurrences of dehydration, and so are humans. If you notice that your dog has diarrhea and isn’t interested in drinking water, you have to make sure that proper hydration is being ensured. You can check your dog’s hydration level by assessing the appearance of their gums or skin.

Viruses or bacteria

Whenever your dog gets a digestive infection, you can notice several general symptoms, but also some more specific ones such as hardcore vomiting or explosive diarrhea. If this occurs, it can be a good indication that the problem is caused by a virus. There are many diseases for which it is highly recommended that you vaccinate your dog – coronavirus and parvovirus are two of the most dangerous pathogens that can affect your dog’s health. Take your dog in for a checkup if you notice any unusual symptoms such as severe diarrhea or vomiting.

Another, more serious medical condition

Underlying illnesses don’t usually cause acute symptoms, so you might remain unaware that your dog is sick until the signs start showing up. Stomach ulcers are quite common in some dogs, and they usually cause bloody vomit or melena (very dark feces). Dogs can experience a variety of other digestive issues that are unrelated to infectious agents — from bloat to occlusions or obstructions.

Symptoms

The two most common clinical signs of an upset stomach are diarrhea and vomiting. However, there are many others, such as constipation, lethargy, signs of blood in the stool or vomit, dehydration, and even constant drooling. Your dog can also have gas or develop a fever.

If the symptoms are not severe and you’re doing your best to solve the problem, you can wait for up to 24 hours before taking your dog in for a checkup. If they don’t subside no matter what you do, get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. Dehydration can be life-threatening, but so can bloat and other medical issues.

Treating an Upset Stomach in Dogs

Before you reach your hand toward the medicine cabinet, try to consider some possible natural solutions to solve the problem, especially if you noticed that it is not as severe as it could be. Try feeding your dog unsweetened yogurt (since it contains probiotics) or just avoid feeding your dog altogether for a number of hours to see what’s going on. That doesn’t mean that your dog should be restricted water, too. Water should be put at their disposal all the time.

Bananas and pumpkin contain a series of ingredients that improve digestion. For example, bananas are packed with vitamin C and potassium, and it actively inhibits the growth of bacteria, but it also provides essential electrolytes that are capable of preventing dehydration. Pumpkin, on the other hand, has a lot of fiber, which means that it can slow down your dog’s bowel movements and can alleviate diarrhea.

You should try to avoid giving your dog solid food for up to 24 hours, especially if he’s suffering from explosive diarrhea. However, bone broth and clear chicken soups can be miracles in such situations. Bone broth has healthy collagen and plenty of minerals, so it can do wonders. If your dog likes nibbling on ice chips, you could freeze it and give it to your dog as a snack.

Finally, if none of these work or if you’re feeling worried that your dog might have a really upset stomach, you could try giving him Pepto Bismol or Imodium. It is highly recommended to have a talk with your vet before doing so. DiarRice for dogs is a probiotic that is easily digestible and that tastes like chicken. It has soothing properties, so you could try it, as well.

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