Our dog cannot communicate with us in the same way we do with others, so when he appears to be sick, we are often guessing as to what is ailing him. Many times a condition will seem more severe than it really is as many of the same symptoms regarding a dog’s condition can point to a wide variety of issues. When it comes to why your dog has an upset stomach, it is very likely that he ate something he wasn’t supposed to. We have all experienced an upset stomach that comes on out of nowhere, and your dog is no different. To help keep your dog’s digestive tract in tip-top shape, some veterinarians will even recommend giving him a daily dog digestive supplement. If you have ever asked, “What can I give my dog for an upset stomach?” this article is for you. Below you will find some of the causes and symptoms of an upset stomach accompanied by their respective remedies to help your dog feel better.
Causes of an Upset Stomach
According to Wondercide.com, there are many potential causes for an upset stomach in dogs. Most of the time, an upset stomach is an indication of a deeper medical issue. Some of the dog digestive issues that can produce an upset stomach and the remedies that help are as follows:
Acid reflux is a common stomach problem for dogs. Also known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease, this ailment occurs when the pressure from stomach acid pushes past the barrier of the stomach and floods the esophageal passage.
Many times in the throws of a reflux episode, your dog’s digestive system will make gurgling noises that sound like he is about to throw up. Typically no actual regurgitation will take place as acid reflux is characterized by being contained to the esophageal passage. Even without the visible symptom of vomit, other noticeable symptoms signal stomach pain and gastrointestinal distress.
Look for some of the following symptoms to identify acid reflux in your dog:
- Weight Loss
- Choking during and after meals
- Occasional mucusy throw-up
- Lack of appetite or an unwillingness to eat
- Excessive drooling
- Starting and stopping meals without finishing a full serving
Acid reflux can be easily treated with changes in dietary habits along with prescription antacids if needed. Switching to low acidity foods, feeding smaller quantities throughout the day, and avoiding fatty human foods are all useful measures to be taken to combat acid reflux.
Treatments to try at home
Based on the recommendations from Pet MD, the best thing to give a dog for an upset stomach, caused by acid reflux, is bland food.Most vets and other canine nutritionists recommend a bland diet of something similar to boiled chicken and rice. A bland diet of low-fat protein and grain with minimal sugar content is easier for the stomach to break down. As a result, the stomach does not have to produce as much stomach acid, which in turn will prevent flare-ups of acid reflux.
The most basic form of an upset stomach is indigestion. Indigestion is characterized by any gastric distress brought on by the consumption of food. Essentially this means that whatever your dog ate didn’t agree with his system. Most commonly, indigestion includes symptoms that are related to acid reflux like heartburn and nausea.
While it is hard to diagnose nausea in dogs, typically it will be characterized by gagging or vomiting, and if severe, could manifest as diarrhea. Indigestion arises due to a surplus of stomach acid, which is used by the body to break down food and begin the digestion process.
The Signs of Indigestion
If too much stomach acid is introduced too rapidly, as is the case with canine indigestion, then the gastric system becomes overwhelmed and attempts to alleviate the pressure. The body’s attempt to relieve this pressure is most commonly seen in symptoms like regurgitation, gas pain, bloating, and canine diarrhea.
What to Feed a Dog With an Upset Stomach?
Canine probiotic chews are the best remedy for doggy indigestion. For a quick at-home solution, try adding a spoonful of plain greek yogurt to his food to help introduce healthy bacteria to the gut. Probiotics are excellent for fighting off viruses and other illnesses that may be hanging around in the digestive tract. Additionally, probiotics are great for increasing brain function and raising energy levels, helping to combat symptoms of an upset stomach like lethargy.
Gastritis is location specific and refers to inflammation of the stomach. This particular stomach problem is a prevalent digestive issue in dogs often brought on by foraging and consumption of products not intended for canines. An involuntary stomach reaction like gastritis can be caused by any number of triggers, i.e., spoiled food, food allergies, food intolerance, a virus, etc.
Sometimes gastritis is an isolated incident, but it can also be a symptom of a deeper digestive upset. Like most stomach problems in dogs, gastritis is accompanied by symptoms like bloating, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite.
What can I do for my dog?
Our favorite remedy for gastritis is ginger and ice cubes. Giving your dog ice cubes is a great way to settle his stomach, and the cooling nature of ice will help as a natural anti-inflammatory. Additionally, ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Missing Link recommends ginger in small doses as an excellent natural method for soothing an upset stomach due to bloating and gas pain.
If you haven’t noticed by now, stomach acid is the key to most stomach issues in dogs. Ulcers are the pinnacle of the negative toll that stomach acid can have on the body. This unfortunate condition occurs when an excess amount of stomach acid begins to erode the lining of the stomach. As the acid breaks down the innermost part of the stomach, painful sores in the form of small holes form in the lining of the stomach tissue.
What causes ulcers?
Most commonly, ulcers come on as a result of excessive medication or infections. Ulcers are commonly aggravated and made worse by other preexisting digestive issues like gastritis and acid reflux.
What are the symptoms?
Bloody vomit and hard dark stool are the two most common visible symptoms of ulcers in dogs. While signs of ulcers may not always be visible, they are often detectable due to unexplained weight loss, signs of fatigue and lethargy, and a propensity to avoid food.
How do I treat ulcers?
As K9 of Mine asserts, dogs who suffer from ulcers will often be wary of food as eating causes an increase in stomach pain. The timeline for treatment is typically six to eight weeks depending on the severity, but in rare cases, ulcers can only be managed rather than fully healed. Your dog will likely be prescribed antibiotics and painkillers to heal the stomach tissue and dull the pain, but eating may still prove to be difficult. Canned pumpkin is a staple food for dogs who suffer from ulcers. The low-glycemic properties of pumpkin will not aggravate the abscess, and the flavor of pumpkin is a savory treat that your dog will be unable to resist.
Viruses and Parasites
The same way you can catch a stomach bug like the flu, your dog can pick up some nasty viruses of his own. Viruses are a relatively common canine ailment but carry with them the potential to be a bit more severe than other stomach related issues. Similarly, parasites are unwanted guests that set up camp in your dog’s intestinal tract, and both can cause significant digestive upset.
How did my dog get a parasite or virus?
In both cases of parasites and viruses, your dog will more than likely have ingested contaminated fecal matter. Other forms of exposure are possible, but usually, a dog needs to ingest a contaminated substance orally.
What do these parasites and viruses do?
Parvovirus is one of the most common viruses found in dogs, and most vets require that all dogs be vaccinated to prevent the spread of the diseases. The real danger of Parvovirus lies in its ability to attack a healthy dog’s small intestine. From there, it can enter the bloodstream and eventually attack white blood cells, bone marrow, and the heart.
The most common parasite contracted by dogs is worms. Worms live in the intestines where they feed on the nutrient-rich food that your dog’s body is attempting to absorb and digest. Because worms deprive your dog of much-needed nutrients, it can lead to an upset stomach visible in the form of dehydration, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and vomiting.
What do I look for?
For both Parvovirus and worms, your dog’s stool will be a telltale sign of what is happening internally. Bloody diarrhea will tell you that your dog is suffering from early-onset Parvo, which is your cue to get to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Parvo is entirely treatable, especially when caught early, but vaccination is the best way to prevent the illness from becoming a problem for your dog.
Typically, worms will show up in your dog’s stool, but if there is no visible evidence, your vet may suggest bringing in a sample for analysis. Worms are easily treatable, and antibiotics are customarily given orally over a week or administered via a shot.
What can I do to help my dog?
Dehydration is going to be the most significant obstacle when combating viruses or parasites, so we recommend Pedialyte. Isn’t that the same drink that people give to children when they have the flu? It sure is! It is also dog-friendly, and it works! Your dog may not be too keen to drink it because of the flavor so you may need to administer the drink in small doses with a syringe. You can also try water mixed with bone broth as a salty alternative to help replenish some much-needed electrolytes to your dog’s system.
Now that you are familiar with a few causes of stomach ailments and what you can do for each one, here are some general cliff notes of what to do for a dog with an upset stomach, according to the Canine Journal.
- Do your best to identify the source of the stomach issue. This will not always be easy but try and determine if he got into anything he shouldn’t have or ate something out of the ordinary.
- Remove dog food from the equation. Water is okay but only in small doses until your dog proves he can keep the contents of his stomach under control.
- Keep an eye on the situation. Monitor your dog and watch for any deterioration in his condition. Initial signs of distress are not always cause for concern, but if his condition worsens take action.
- Don’t wait, take him to the vet! As soon as your dog’s condition becomes worse, immediately take him to a veterinarian to be examined and diagnosed as the problem may be more than you can handle on your own.
- Follow instructions. Medical professionals are your greatest resource for diagnosing and assisting your dog, so follow their advice and don’t deviate from the plan.
- Put him on a bland food diet. Slowly attempt to give your dog small doses of bland foods like boiled chicken, rice, pumpkin, etc. As your dog demonstrates the ability to hold food down, you can start giving food in greater quantities.
- Re-introduce a regular diet. As your dog gets better, slowly integrate his kibble back into his diet. Going straight from a bland diet back to dog food could aggravate the stomach and cause distress.
- Give him love and help him rest. When your dog feels sick, you must let him relax and rest as his immune system needs all the energy it can get. Your dog craves rest and affection the same way you do when you are sick.
At some point, your dog will undergo the unfortunate trials of stomach distress, but as his owner, you will be there to help him. There are many excellent dog upset stomach remedies to combat nausea and other stomach ailments, but it is essential to remember that you are not in a position to diagnose your dog’s condition. Always use the resources you have to seek professional medical care for your dog and remember to use your discernment to make the best possible choices for his long term health.
Camille is a co-founder of PetHonesty and VP of Pup Parent Education. After watching her own family dog suffer from joint issues for years she became passionate about improving dogs’ quality of life. With the help of a team of veterinarians and dog nutritionists she now helps educate other dog owners about the small but powerful things they can do to positively impact their dogs’ health and wellness! She lives in Austin, TX and loves cuddling puppies, being outside and reading.