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11 August 2021

Upset stomach in dogs: the causes, symptoms and remedies.

What causes upset stomach in dogs? What are the causes and remedies for the same?

If your dog could talk to you, he or she would say “DINNER AND BREAKFAST! is the best time of the day”. However, many times dogs tend to put things in their mouth which don’t belong there. This may lead to an upset stomach in dogs. In this blog post, I will discuss the causes behind upset stomach in dogs, the symptoms and finally the remedies for treating the same.

What if one day you notice your dog reluctant to eat or not eating at all? Is it a sign that your dog is coming down with some kind of illness? Most often, refusing to eat is a sign of an upset stomach in dogs. Continue to read all the way to the end to understand everything you need to know about upset stomach in dogs.

Acute and chronic vomiting in dogs: causes 

What causes upset stomach in dogs?

The causes behind upset stomach in dogs is varied. However, the most common and frequently seen cause is that your dog ate something he should not have eaten.

A few other causes behind an upset stomach in dogs are: eating too fast and rubbing, an underlying medical condition, infestation of worms, build up of gas or constipation.

Upset stomach in dogs

 

Some other causes behind upset stomach in dogs:

In addition to the conditions discussed above, other conditions which may cause upset stomach in dogs are:
  • Cancer of the digestive system
  • Inflammation
  • Obstruction
  • Presence of ulcer
  • Bloating
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Malabsorption
  • Motion sickness
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis

I will be discussing the above mentioned causes in further detail now:

Dogs vomiting clear liquid, when and why?

Gas

Just like humans, dogs suffer from gas and flatulence too. Gas also builds up naturally as a part of the whole digestion and absorption process. However if this gas is not released, it will cause pain to the dog.

If your dog is suffering from constipation, it can act as another reason for pain along with the gas which is stuck as the stools have backed up.

Herbal remedies for pain management in dogs, part I


Obstruction and inflammation of the digestive tract

Dogs are known to eat items which are not meant for them like spicy human food. They have also been noticed to eat inedible items like toy pieces etc. Such items especially pieces of a chew toy can cause obstruction in the intestine as well as intestinal inflammation. If by chance the toy causes obstruction, your dog won’t be able to digest any food.

Another case where the dog may land up with an obstruction in the stomach is if the intestine folds upon itself, causing blockage. This condition is referred to as intussusception.

Parvovirus infection

Parvovirus infection is a very dangerous and life threatening infection which is mostly passed from one dog to another by feces or direct contact.

Cancer

Cancer affects both humans and dogs alike. The cancer of the digestive system is observed rarely in dogs. However, stomach pain is one of the first indicators of digestive system cancer.

Bloating

Dogs do not suffer from bloating normally. A bloating is a rare condition caused by trapping of gas in the stomach. The trapped gas causes the stomach to stretch. This stretching can lead to twisting of the dogs stomach which is referred to as gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). GDV causes blood supply to be cut off to the internal organs and can be fatal if not treated on time.

Inflammatory bowel disease

This is another disorder that is common in both humans and dogs. The bowel of dogs can become inflamed due to a variety of reasons like spicy food, eating something inedible etc.

Malabsorption

If your dog is having difficulty in digesting the food, he or she is suffering from malabsorption. Malabsorption is pretty difficult to diagnose as the symptoms of malabsorption are similar to a variety of other diseases.

Ulcers

If the stomach lining of your dog is damaged, it will lead to the formation of an ulcer. The cause behind ulcer can be anything like medication, inflammation etc.

Motion sickness

If your dog hates car rides and suffers from motion sickness, then he or she is likely to have an upset stomach if he or she is forced to undergo a car ride.

Upset stomach in dogs symptoms

Now that we have discussed the causes behind upset stomach in dogs, let’s discuss the signs and symptoms observed in case of upset stomach in dogs. The symptoms differ depending on the underlying cause:

Parvovirus: fever, loss of appetite, blood in stool, vomiting.

Inflammation in the intestine: straining to move bowels, vomiting, pain when the dog tries to pass stools, diarrhea

Constipation: struggling to expel feces, hard and dry feces, straining to move bowels.

Bloating: rapid breathing, discomfort, restlessness, dry retching, excessive drooling, abdominal swelling

Inflammation in stomach: bile vomit, frothing at mouth, appearance of dried blood in stools (looks like coffee grounds).

Cancer: diarrhea, lack of appetite, bloating, lethargy, gum paleness, vomiting.

Obstruction: lack of appetite, lethargy, swelling in abdomen, low body temperature, vomiting, dehydration

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis:
loss of appetite, diarrhea, depression, weight loss, abdominal pain.

Inflammatory bowel disease: fluid retention, weight loss, vomiting, loss of appetite, water diarrhea swelling in abdomen

Ulcer: committing digested or fresh blood, abdominal discomfort, dark stool with blood, reduction in appetite, pale gums

Malabsorption:
diarrhea accompanied with weight loss

Other general signs of stomach discomfort in dogs:

  • Guarding belly
  • Shaking
  • Noises in stomach
  • Eating grass
  • Burping
  • Gulping
  • Smacking lip repeatedly
  • Licking carpets, floors, glass etc.

When should you take your dog to the vet?

Even though symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting can relate to many health conditions in dogs, in most cases, these are not serious and do not need immediate medical attention. However, sometimes vomiting and diarrhea can be indications of severe health conditions like parvovirus or some other life threatening issue.

So, should you rush to the vet the moment your dog vomits or has loose stools? The primary thing of importance here is to identify when your dog is suffering from something serious and when you can wait and watch your dog.

If you notice that your dog vomited once or twice, he or she is suffering from a mild case of stomach upset. However, if your dog is vomiting repeatedly and the vomiting is followed by diarrhea, you should get to the vet as soon as possible.

The following conditions warrant for an immediate vet consultation

  • Your dog is frequently suffering from vomiting and diarrhea in a period of few hours
  • Your dog’s abdomen is swelling up
  • Your dog seems dull and depressed
  • There is blood in the diarrhea or vomit
  • The vomiting continues for over 24 hours.

Can hot weather be a cause behind upset stomach in dogs?

Warm weather causes increased proliferation of fungi and bacteria. This leads to items perishing quicker. Dogs are known to eat things they find in the streets and get into the garbage cans. Therefore, summers are a time when dogs are more likely to suffer from infection of the stomach.

Treating upset stomach in dogs with home remedies

There are two ways in which you can alleviate your dogs upset stomach - medicines or home remedies. In the following sections, I will discuss the different home remedies which are available for treating your dog's upset stomach.

Wait and watch

If your dog only vomited once or twice, you should wait and watch. Do not give your dog anything to eat or drink for a period of 12-24 hours. The absence of additional food to process will help the stomach heal itself quicker. Thus, fasting can actually be helpful for your dog. This will also give you time to monitor if it was a one time incident or if he is suffering in the absence of food intake.

In the absence of food, if your dog vomits, it is best to consult your veterinarian.

Ice cubes

Hydration is very important, even when your dog is have an uncomfortable stomach day. However, do not overdo the water consumption as too much water intake can also cause stomach upset.

If your dog has ingested some water, keep the water bowl aside and offer him some ice chips/cubes every few hours. if your boy of girl is successfully keeping the ice chips down, proceed to give more ice chips and a few teaspoons of water.

Canned pumpkin

This is probably the most go to home remedy for dog diarrhea and vomiting. Canned pumpkin has a low glycemic index which helps with settling the stomach in case of stomach upset in dogs.

If your dog belongs to the smaller breeds, give him or her 1/2 teaspoon and if he or she belongs to the larger dog breeds, give him or her 1 teaspoon of canned pumpkin.

Bone broth

Bone broth is not only good for your dogs cartilage, it can act as a wonderful home remedy for upset stomach in dogs as well. It can act as a healer as well as keep your dog hydrated at the same time. You can freeze bone broth and offer it to your dog as ice cubes during summers.

Pepcid or Pepto-Bismol

This is the only over the counter drug which you can use for your pup. You can just crush it in water and give it to to your dog. Check with your veterinarian to understand what dose to administer to your pup. In case you notice that your pup’s stool is darkened after administration of the medicine, it is no cause for alarm.

Banana

This is a natural remedy which works for humans and canines both. Give your dog some banana with rice and boneless chicken. Do not put any salt in the food. If your dog is not drinking water, you can add some water to the banana-chicken-rice mix.

Chicken and rice diet

Chicken and rice diet is the best bland food for dogs with upset stomach. This diet is low on fat, fiber, protein while being high on carbohydrates which allows for easy digestion while allowing the intestinal system to recover and gain normal bowel function.

Grass

You may have already noticed your dog indulging in vegetarian diet while on walk if her or she is suffering from an upset stomach. If you have a grass patch in your front lawn and your dog loves to chew on it, allow him. He or she is trying to heal himself.

However, if you notice this behavior going on for more than a few days, get in touch with your veterinarian.

Bonus ingredients

Add a tiny amount of cottage cheese or plain yogurt to your dog’s diet. This will help soothe the inflamed intestines and stomach especially if the upset stomach is being accompanied by diarrhea.
You can also administer probiotics to your dog. These will help increase the population of good bacteria in your dog’s gut.


Bringing your dog back to his or her regular diet

Once your dog is showing signs of recovery, it is time to bring your dog back to his or her regular diet. It is imperative that your pup is brought back to the normal diet very slowly and in a gradual manner. Here are a few pointers on how to bring your dog back to normalcy in terms of the diet:

Start by adding 25% of commercial diet to the bland diet. Give this diet to your dog for 3 days.
If your dog does well over these 3 days, switch the diet up to be 50% kibble and 50% bland diet. Continue this diet for the next three days.

If your dog did well so far, you can switch 100% kibble diet for your pup.

Raw dog food: benefits and risks

Conclusion

If you notice that your dog is suffering from vomiting and diarrhea on a repeated basis, it is best if you add probiotic to his or her regular diet. The probiotics will help restore healthy bacteria in the stomach. Keep the probiotics tablets in the fridge so that they don’t lose viability.

Has your dog ever suffered from an upset stomach? Which is your favorite remedy for upset stomach in dogs? If you have any queries regarding upset stomach in dogs, put them down in the comment section. I will be happy to address them as soon as I can.

See you in my next blog post
Shruti

Frequently asked questions


What are the most common symptoms of upset stomach in dogs?
The most common symptoms of upset symptoms in dogs are:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Lack luster coat

What can I give my dog to help with upset stomach?
I your dog is interested in drinking and is able to keep small quantities of water down without vomiting, give him or her ice chips or small quantities of water. The quantity of water can be slowly increased. You can also give your dog canned pumpkin, banana or bone broth in small quantities to heal heal the stomach naturally. 

Why do dogs smack their lips when they are suffering from upset stomach?
When dogs suffer from upset stomach their salivary glands produce excess saliva. This is the reason behind dogs smacking their lips when suffering from stomach upset.

How long does it take for upset stomach in dogs to subside?
It generally takes a period of 24-48 hours for the symptoms of an upset stomach to subside. However, if your dog is vomiting or pooping blood or if the symptoms don't subside, consult your vet. 

Which is the best food for dog with upset stomach?
Chicken and rice is best food for dog with upset stomach since this bland diet is low on fiber, protein and fat and is high in carbohydrate. This allows for easy digestion while the intestine of the dog recovers.











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