Dog Upset Stomach – Causes, Treatment & More

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Panicking because your dog seems to be suffering from an upset stomach and you don’t know what to do to help them out?

Or are you trying to find out whether or not your dog has an upset stomach because of certain changes you’ve noticed in them the past day or two?

Either way, don’t worry, you’re right where you need to be.

This article will be letting you in on all the information you need to know about what to do in case your dog has an upset stomach and you want to make them feel better, all the way from the symptoms of an upset stomach in dogs, what you need to do when this problem happens and what you should refrain from doing in the future to minimize the chances of your dog getting an upset stomach again later on.

Causes Of Upset Stomach In Dogs

So, you may be asking yourself, “what exactly causes my dog to have an upset stomach?”.

The answers to this question are many, since there are a great number of factors that could come in to play and affect the well being of your dog’s stomach and digestive system, but we’ve jotted the most common and important ones you should know about in the list below.

Sudden Dietary Change: A sudden change in any aspect of your dog’s diet is probably the #1 reason why dogs get upset stomachs.

Some people decide to suddenly switch from feeding their dogs a certain brand and formula of dog food they have been feeding them for a long time, and they do that without having their dog go through a necessary “break-in” phase where they are gradually moved from being fed one specific formula to being fed another, which ultimately leads to an upset stomach because of this sudden drastic change.

Other dog owners make the mistake of feeding their dog way too much of something they haven’t ever eaten before for the first time, which also results in an upset stomach in dogs because their digestive system isn’t used to consuming this food at all.

These are just two of the most common diet-related examples when it comes to an upset stomach in dogs.

There are many more possibilities that you should be on the lookout for, which is why we always recommend you stick to a veterinary-prescribed diet when it comes to your dog and don’t try experimenting too much, since too much unnecessary experimentation is bound to cause unwanted accidents.

Eating Things They Shouldn’t Be Eating: Another very common cause of upset stomach in dogs is when our pooches make their way into eating things they shouldn’t be eating, but it’s not always their fault, it’s oftentimes our fault as well for not being the responsible dog owners we should be.

One of the most common times we see a surge in dogs with upset stomachs and all sorts of problems is around the holidays, where food consumption is multiplied by many folds and the trash can tends to be filled with leftovers by the end of the day (think Thanksgiving, for example).

Responsible dog owners take it upon themselves to immediately dispose of the trash in order to make sure that it’s impossible for Fido to make their way to it, thus removing any chances of their dog eating anything from the trash.

Meanwhile, if you don’t completely get rid of the trash and dispose of it somewhere your dog doesn’t stand a chance to reach and possibly consume, you run the risk of them sniffing their way into it and consuming whatever they feel like consuming from it, possibly even the entirety of it.

Not only will this surely cause your dog stomach upset, it will also put them at risk of developing a whole host of other health problems as well, not to mention life threatening risks they could be facing if, for example, they made their way into a bunch of bones and decided to eat them.

Inconvenient Dog Food: Some dogs just have a fairly sensitive stomach and were born this way, so you have to take extra special care when it comes to which brand of dog food you feed them.

Something we see happen very often is dog owners with dogs who have a sensitive stomach purchase dog food based on popularity in the community of dog owners and overall hype, try to feed their dogs this dog food and later find out, much to their displeasure, that it’s made their dogs terribly sick.

Well, dogs with sensitive stomachs should only be fed dog food specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs!

No matter how high of a rating a specific dog food brand or formula gets online, how popular it is among the community of dog owners you know or how much hype it gets because of revolutionary properties in the world of dog nutrition, you should only be feeding your dog dog food with specific ingredients that their sensitive stomach can perfectly process without facing any trouble.

Other Health Problems: It’s not always your fault or the fault of your dog that they got an upset stomach, sometimes dogs get upset stomachs because of external factors outside your control and theirs.

Stomach upset it dogs may oftentimes be a sign of an underlying health condition that your dog is suffering from, whether that be something like a viral infection that managed to make its way into your dog’s system, or other more serious health conditions that a veterinarian will be able to diagnose properly upon inspecting your dog.

Because of the fact that what could start off as a minor health complication that’s implied by your dog’s upset stomach could develop into a much more serious health complication that greatly puts your dog’s life in danger if not addressed on the spot, we always advise that you get into immediate contact with your veterinarian as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of upset stomach in your dog that we’re going to be talking about below.

Only this way will you be playing it safe and keeping your dog out of harm’s way as best as you can.

Stressful Events: Oftentimes, certain stressful events may lead to upset stomach in your dog. One of the most common instances where stressful events lead to upset stomachs in dogs is when separation anxiety is involved.

Symptoms Of Upset Stomach In Dogs

The following is a list of some of the most common symptoms that appear on dogs that have an upset stomach, so keep a close eye on your dog and monitor for the following.

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive passing of gas
  • Clear stomach gurgling sounds
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Decrease in physical activity and slump in energy levels
  • Sudden change in behavior and acting in certain ways they didn’t use to before
  • Excessive desire to eat grass, since eating grass often leads to dogs vomiting and relieving their system of whatever was bothering them.

What To Give A Dog For Upset Stomach

When it comes to taking care of your dog’s upset stomach and get it back to normal, there are many routes you could go with, some involving medicinal treatment and others not necessarily.

We’ve put together the following list that mentions the most common and most effective ways dog owners could follow in order to treat their dog’s upset stomach.

Medicinal Treatment: The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about how to treat your dog’s upset stomach is almost always going to be medicinal treatment.

And how can this not be the case when medicine nowadays is just so effective and time efficient?

It must be noted right from the start, though, that you should never ever give your dog any sort of medicine without your veterinarian’s guidance, since a lot of things can go wrong if you decide to self-diagnose your dog’s case and give them a specific dosage of medicine without a professional opinion about it.

Some of the most common medicine that’s often given to dogs that have upset stomachs are the likes of Pepcid AC and Pepto-Bismol.

What Should I Do When My Dog Has An Upset Stomach?

Veterinary Care: When your dog has an upset stomach, and especially if it isn’t looking to be the mildest of cases, the first thing you should ever do is take them to the veterinarian or pet care center so they can get professional help.

Some cases of dog stomach upset may be very minor and your veterinarian will tell you that you have nothing to worry about, while other cases of dog stomach upset may open the door for your veterinarian to discover a very serious health problem your dog is suffering from, one that will have never been discovered had you, the dog’s owner, not sought professional medical help.

Your veterinarian will ask you a series of questions to try to pinpoint what exactly caused your dog to have an upset stomach, such as whether or not any sudden dietary changes were made, whether your dog consumed something they don’t normally eat, etc ..

So the more detailed you can be in your answers and the more you can remember, the better tools you equip the veterinarian with so they can be able to tell what exactly has caused your dog’s stomach to become upset and what exact course of treatment needs to be followed.

Besides taking your dog to the veterinarian so they can do whatever needs to be done to get your dog to feel better, here are some important facts you have to keep in mind during such cases.

Proper Hydration: One of the most important things you must make sure you’re keeping up with when your dog has an upset stomach (and this is true for all times, not just when your dog doesn’t have an upset stomach), is to keep your dog properly hydrated throughout the day.

When your dog has an upset stomach, keeping a regular supply of fluids (only water) is absolutely essential in helping them get better fast.

Let’s say, for example, that your dog’s upset stomach situation has them experiencing diarrhea, where they’re “going potty” for more than 6 times a day.

With all the water your dog is losing because of these frequent trips to the bathroom, and add to that the possibility of vomiting being present as well (which would lead to a significant amount of water lost as well), could you imagine how dehydrated their body will be if you don’t give them all the water they need to recoup?

If you don’t ensure that your dog remains properly hydrated throughout the day in such cases, not only will you have a dog with an upset stomach between your hands to deal with, you’ll also be running the risk of your dog developing several other health problems because of this dehydration they were going through.

Making sure that your dog remains properly hydrated throughout this entire ordeal is greatly increased in importance and is much more dangerous if you slack off on when you’re dealing with a small breed dog or a young and growing puppy, since these small sized bundles of joy tend to become dehydrated at a much faster rate than their larger sized counterparts.

Speaking about proper hydration during strenuous periods such as this, we’ve written a whole piece about the benefits of Pedialyte for dogs in times like this when their gastrointestinal system isn’t doing too well, as well as other important details you have to know about proper dosages, when Pedialyte is bad for your dog, etc ..

Also, and if you don’t want to absolutely minimize the risk of your dog drinking excessive amounts of water at a time and worsening their situation, you can resort to giving your dog ice cubes instead. Giving your dog a couple of ice cubes every 2-3 hours is a good place to start, then monitor how they’re doing from there on and either decrease or increase the time in between.

Dehydration VS Excessive Water Consumption

With all we covered above about the importance of proper hydration in dogs that have an upset stomach, a very important quick note must be made about the thin line that separates proper hydration and excessive water consumption during these troubled times for Fido.

As long as you’re giving your dog water to drink in small amounts, yet you’re doing so gradually and steadily throughout the day, then your dog will be just fine and you’ll be ensuring proper hydration until their stomach feels better.

However, some dog owners tend to give their dogs excessive amounts of water to drink when they have an upset stomach, thinking that this greatly increased amount of water consumed will help their dog feel better.

Unfortunately, this is very untrue, and achieves the opposite of what these individuals are trying to achieve, since excessive amounts of water consumed by your dog when they have a troubled stomach (especially if they drink the water very fast as well) will only make things worse and will intensify the level of stomach upset they already have.

So, the takeaway from this section is that you should be giving your dog a gradual and steady flow of water to drink in small bouts throughout the day, instead of giving them large amounts of water to drink at a time.

How Can I Treat My Dog’s Upset Stomach Without Medicine?

For many dog owners out there, and you may be one of them, giving your dog medicine for any reason isn’t exactly the most preferred method on your list.

Many people prefer to go down the natural route of doing things and not resort to medicine when it comes to their dogs.

You must keep in mind, though, that natural methods aren’t always best in all the cases your dog may be passing through.

In some cases, natural methods may work brilliantly well and may prove to be a much better option than resorting to medicine ever will be, but in other cases medicine is an absolute must and anything other than that given to your dog is only slowing down the recovery process and hindering your dog’s case from improving.

For this reason, we always urge dog owners to consult with their veterinarian about any physical or health problem their dog is passing through, since such an expert in the field is the most capable person that’s able to recommend whether you must resort to giving your dog medicine for a specific case they have, or whether natural remedies may work just fine.

Also, any of the below advice is in no way, shape or form professional veterinary advice, and should ideally not be undertaken without the approval of a veterinarian in the field.

Specific Food: Just like there are certain foods we’re advised to eat during times when we have an upset stomach and are trying to feel better, the same holds true for dogs as well.

Here’s a list of some of the best food you could feed your dog when they have an upset stomach (just make sure you don’t overdo it and keep things in moderation, as overdoing it will make your dog’s situation even worse).

  • Cooked white rice
  • Chicken (only skinless and boneless chicken will do)
  • Bananas
  • Canned pumpkin (one of the absolute best foods you can ever feed your dog when they have an upset stomach)
  • Sweet potato
  • Oatmeal

Make sure you keep your dog as far away from any specific food or ingredients that may worsen their upset stomach condition, such as specific dog treats, toppings & seasonings and any other food/ingredient that’s not very easy for your dog’s digestive system to handle during this delicate time.

You should also make sure that you feed your dog food that’s good for their upset stomach in small bouts and not large quantities of food at a time, since feeding them large amounts of food at once will put additional stress on their digestive system and will lead to worsening their situation.

Most of the times, your dog’s appetite will be suppressed by itself because of their upset stomach, so you’ll find that you’re feeding your dog small amounts of food bit by bit throughout the day without even intending to.

If at any point your dog vomits because of small amounts of acceptable food you fed them, get in immediate contact with your veterinarian about this.

Abstaining From Food: Another option your veterinarian may advise you to go with is abstaining from feeding your dog any food for a certain period of time, usually around 12 to 24 hours at once.

What this does is give your dog’s digestive system a period of much needed rest after it’s been “beaten to the ground” by whatever caused your dog to have an upset stomach in the first place.

When we say abstain from food, we mean abstain from ANY AND ALL food, no matter how small the quantity or size may be, in order to complete a full 12 to 24 hour fast.

Again, and because having your dog go through a fasting phase when they have an upset stomach isn’t always ideal for all dogs that are going through such a problem, it’s best that you take your vet’s input on this and inquire about whether this step would help or won’t in your dog’s specific case.

Many factors come into play when it comes to determining whether or not your dog should go through a fasting phase in order to get their digestive system back on track, such as your dog’s age, size & weight, any health conditions they may be currently going through (hypoglycemia for example), any medication they may be currently taking to treat other conditions, etc .. All of which mean that you should never put your dog or puppy on a fasting phase in order to help with their upset stomach condition without first consulting a veterinarian.

Dogs can complete a fasting phase where they don’t eat anything for 12 to 24 hours completely fine and nothing will happen to them, as long as the conditions for them to go through such a phase are met beforehand.

How Can I Tell That My Dog’s Upset Stomach Is Now Doing Better?

So, how exactly can you tell that your dog’s upset stomach is getting better and that whatever method of treatment you’re following is actually working?

Here’s a list of some of the most common signs that your dog is getting back on track and their stomach is slowly starting to feel better now.

  • Increased appetite (this may take a while, so don’t expect your dog to jump from refusing to eat anything all the way to wanting to eat everything they can get their paws on it no time).
  • Increased energy levels and willingness to move around/engage in physical activity
  • Even if gradually, stool becomes firmer and less soft stool is observed
  • No more vomiting is taking place

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