An upset stomach, also known as gastroenteritis or dyspepsia, is one of the most common illnesses in dogs. While most of the time your dog will recover on its own (usually within 2 days) there are times when your dog’s upset stomach might be linked to an underlying health condition.
Within this article, we identify the potential causes of your beloved dog’s upset stomach and provide some easy remedies that will help ease their discomfort.
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What causes a dog's upset stomach?
There can be many causes for your dog's upset stomach. The most common is that they have eaten something they shouldn’t have. After all, dogs are curious creatures and enjoy putting things in their mouth. Some other causes of a dog’s upset stomach include parasites, viruses, dietary changes, food sensitivities, toxins, and stress and anxiety.
Dogs should not eat certain human foods like chocolate, garlic, onions, citrus, grapes, nuts, and coconut. These foods will make your dog ill so try to keep them out of reach in your home.
What are the symptoms of an upset stomach in dogs?
The most common symptoms that show your dog has an upset stomach are diarrhoea and vomiting. But there are other signs to watch out for too:
Decreased/loss of appetite.
Drinking less water
Seeming uncomfortable and stretching more often
Licking their lips, or other objects
Gulping and gurgling noises from the stomach
Passing very smelly wind!
Sometimes a dog may have more intense symptoms that could be a sign of an underlying health condition. In which case, you should take them to a nearby vet or animal hospital as soon as possible.
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The serious clinical symptoms to look out for are:
Severe vomiting, or vomit that looks a bit yellow with bile.
Vomit or stool that contains blood.
Abdominal pain, your dog may be showing their discomfort by standing with their head hanging, praying, or bowing.
Lethargy and weakness
Weakness or collapsing
If your dog eats something it shouldn't, like food, toys, or chemicals, get help from a vet. If they are unavailable, then we recommend contacting your nearest emergency veterinary hospital. The vet can tell you if your pet needs professional attention or if you can monitor them at home.
Now that you know the causes and symptoms of a dog’s upset stomach. It’s time to look at some remedies that you can use at home to treat your pup’s upset tummy.
Some vets suggest withholding food for 12-24 hours to support your dog's upset stomach. Adult dogs can go without food for 24 hours, while puppies should wait for 12 hours.
We think contacting your vet before fasting your dog is a good idea to ensure it is safe for them. After all, small dog breeds or those with preexisting health conditions may not tolerate fasting as well as others.
If fasting is not an option, or not working for your dog's upset stomach, below are some alternative options:
1. Hydration is important for dog's upset stomach
Ensuring your dog stays hydrated is crucial at all times, even more so when they have an upset stomach! If your dog has diarrhoea, they can quickly become dehydrated. So they may be needing more water than usual.
However, sometimes having too much water may make your poor dog's upset stomach worse. So, try giving your dog some ice chips every few hours and see if they can keep them down. If they can handle small amounts of water or ice chips, gradually increase the quantity and frequency of their intake.
Alternatively, we recommend Furr Boostproducts that come in three different flavours to choose from. These smoothies for dogs are delicious, 100% natural, and hydrating. You can add them to your dog's water to replenish lost fluids when they are suffering from an upset tummy. For the right amount of water to add, we recommend 50ml of fluid per 1kg of your dog's weight.
2. Bland food is the best remedy for a dog's upset stomach
Bland food is recommended for a dog's upset stomach because it is easier to digest. While it may not be the most exciting diet, it helps calm the digestive tract until your dog's appetite, bowel movements, and metabolic function normalize.
Once your dog can keep water down, you can start offering them small portions of bland food. You can easily make this by boiling and shredding chicken (25%) and mixing it with plain boiled rice (75%), without adding any oils, fats, or spices. To make the rice more appealing, add a spoonful of pumpkin, which has several benefits, especially for a dog's upset stomach. This leads us to our next point...
3. Pumpkins and Sweet Potato are great for a dog's upset stomach
Great bland foods for a dog’s upset stomach include (canned or plain carved)pumpkin and raw sweet potato. Simply peel the skin off the pumpkin and sweet potato, then mash the insides. Give your dog a few tablespoons of the mixture to alleviate diarrhoea and soothe their upset stomach.
Sweet potato and pumpkin are good for a dog's upset stomach because they are low in calories, rich in nutrients, high in fiber, and gentle on the digestive system.
100% canned pumpkin is a favourite amongst many veterinarians. When purchasing canned pumpkin, make sure pumpkin is the only listed ingredient. Small dogs can be fed one-half teaspoon of canned pumpkin, whereas larger dogs can be fed 1 tablespoon.
Additionally, we suggest using small amounts of ginger as a natural anti-inflammatory herb to alleviate your dog's upset stomach. It can reduce vomiting thanks to its antispasmodic effects. Simply add a pinch of ginger powder to a warm cup of water for your pooch and see if it provides any relief.
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4. Bone Broth is a 'trendy' choice for dogs with upset stomachs
Bone broth has gained popularity as a fasting option. Especially for a dog's upset stomach, when they are experiencing symptoms like diarrhoea and vomiting.
If your dog is hungry but not well enough for solid food just yet, chicken or beef broths are great alternatives. This is because bone broth is a very mild and nutritious liquid meal that will settle easy in a dog’s upset stomach. You can either make the broth yourself or buy some at your local supermarket.
When buying pre-made broth, read the label carefully and ensure it doesn't contain spices like onion or garlic. These can worsen your dog's upset stomach.
How to prevent upset stomach in dogs
It’s easier to prevent a dog’s upset stomach than to cure it. To avoid your dog getting an upset stomach, it's best to feed them a high-quality diet and minimise the number of treats you provide - especially those made for humans! Here are some ways to protect your dog’s sensitive tummy:
Wash the dog water bowl daily: A report from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) states that pet bowls rank fourth among the germiest items in the kitchen. Even after cleaning them in the dishwasher, bacteria like salmonella and E. coli can still linger. To disinfect the bowl, NSF recommends soaking it in active cleaning ingredients for at least 10 minutes once a week. Dog bowls made from silicone or stainless steel are said to be the best choices.
Hydration: Ensure your dog always has access to clean, fresh water within a clean dog bowl. Proper hydration helps prevent dehydration and supports your doggo’s digestion.
Lots of Exercise: Regular exercise for your dog aids in maintaining a healthy weight and promoting proper digestion. Remember to wait at least 2 hours after meals before exercising to avoid digestive discomfort and bloating.
Gradual dietary changes: When introducing your dog to new food, it's crucial to do it gradually. Sudden dietary changes can upset their stomach. Start by mixing small amounts of the new food with their current food. Then slowly increase the amount over a week or more.
Avoid feeding your dog human food: Resist the temptation to feed your dog table scraps of human food, no matter how irresistible their pleading eyes may be! This is particularly important if the food is fatty, spicy, or toxic to dogs. Human food can upset a dog's digestion, so feed them treats and food specifically designed for dogs and recommended by Vets.
Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule routine check-ups with your vet to monitor your dog’s overall health. The Vet can give you guidance on diet, preventive care, and address any concerns you may have about your canine’s health.
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By following these measures, you can reduce the likelihood of your dog experiencing an upset stomach. At WOOOF, we have a variety of high-quality dog products that will help your four-legged family member maintain a healthy gut. See below for some of our favourite options that your furry pal and their stomach will love.