Seeing your dog experiencing stomach discomfort can be quite distressing. You want to help them feel better, but they can’t communicate what they need. Plus, human remedies don’t always work for your canine friend.
Still, there are a few things you can do if you know your dog has an upset stomach because – let’s be honest – they often eat things they shouldn’t.
Before we get into the details of how to treat upset stomach in dogs and how to alleviate your dog’s tummy pain, let’s go over some of the symptoms and warning signs of stomach issues in dogs.
Symptoms Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach
When we have an upset stomach, we might lie down and rest or tell someone we don’t feel good. The pain and discomfort are often written all over our faces as well.
Dogs, however, don’t show signs of pain as openly due to their instinct to hide any weaknesses. Many symptoms are subtle, and you may be tempted to think they’re normal. However, keep an eye out for the following behaviors.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Perhaps one of the most obvious signs of stomach problems is vomiting and diarrhea. If you see your dog vomit, take note of the color and consistency in case you end up taking your dog to the vet. Plus, while it may not be appealing, always check your dog’s stools to monitor their health. You may even find pieces of whatever shoe or toy your dog consumed!
Drooling and Lip Smacking
When a dog – or a human, for that matter – vomits, the acid can damage the throat, mouth, and teeth. Dogs that experience nausea often have an overproduction of saliva, which helps counteract the effects of acidic vomit.
As such, you may see your dog drooling more than usual or smacking their lips to contain the extra saliva.
There is much controversy about whether dogs eat grass to induce vomiting, or they eat it for fun and then it happens to cause vomiting. We’ve seen enough nauseous dogs start eating grass to believe it’s the former. But either way, if you see your dog eating grass in combination with some of these other symptoms, they likely have an upset stomach.
Gas and Burping
Burping and flatulence, like in humans, are completely natural occurrences. So, how do you know if it’s something normal or a symptom of stomach issues? Watch for increased gas, gurgling noises in the stomach, and excess burping.
Like us humans, dogs often do not want to eat when their stomach hurts. If you notice that your dog is refusing things they usually love, that may be a sign of stomach pain.
Dog Stretching Neck and Looking Up
If your dog suddenly starts extending their neck and looking upwards, there’s a good chance that they are experiencing pain in their abdominal region. It’s an attempt to ease the pain in their stomach area, and often a strong sign that there is tummy trouble going on.
Can You Treat Your Dog at Home or Do You Need to Take Them to the Vet?
An upset stomach could be nothing, just some indigestion, or it could be something potentially fatal. While you don’t need to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice symptoms of an upset stomach, you must understand warning signs of a more serious problem. If you notice any of the following, call your vet or take your dog in immediately.
- If the above symptoms don’t improve with home remedies or they get worse
- Blood in stools and/or vomit
- Continued vomiting or diarrhea
- Distended stomach
- Nervous pacing
What Caused Your Dog’s Upset Stomach?
Before you start using home remedies for upset stomach to make your dog comfortable, you need to make sure they did not ingest something dangerous.
If you have been with them all day, review where they have gone and what they might have gotten into. Check to see if you’re missing a shoe or a small toy, and look for signs of anything they might have chewed or eaten. Also, review what plants are toxic to dogs as well as human foods that are toxic to dogs, and make sure your pet hasn’t come into contact with or eaten any of them.
If you suspect your dog has ingested an object or a poisonous substance, contact your vet immediately.
Ways to Make Your Dog Feel Better
Once you’ve determined that your dog’s upset stomach does not need immediate veterinary attention, you can try some of the following tricks to keep them healthy and happy. These are the most common ways to treat an upset stomach in dogs.
1. Keep Them Hydrated
One of the most important things to do for a dog with an upset stomach is to keep them hydrated. You don’t want your dog to end up in the hospital for dehydration!
Keeping them hydrated isn’t as simple as making sure their water bowl is full. Your dog may not want to drink much water, or they might spit it right back up. You can start with giving them a couple of ice chips or water in small quantities.
2. Provide Pedialyte
Combating dehydration isn’t only about giving water. Dogs and humans alike need electrolytes to help them stay hydrated, especially when they are vomiting or have diarrhea.
One treatment that may work is providing some Pedialyte. While children’s Pedialyte may work just fine, you can go to your local pet store and get a canine version, which usually comes in powder form.
3. Monitor Their Temperature
If you recall, a fever was on our list of serious symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Since dogs are covered in fur, you probably won’t notice when your pet has a temperature.
If they have an upset tummy, you should routinely check their temperature to make sure there isn’t an underlying problem.
The best way to take a dog’s temperature is by using a rectal thermometer. A normal temperature for a dog is much higher than ours. Normal dog temperatures range between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog’s temperature is 103 or more, take them to the vet.
4. Let Them Fast
We usually have developed strict routines for our dogs, measuring out exact amounts to feed them at certain times. However, in the wild, dogs don’t have a precise eating schedule, and they may even spend a day or two without eating.
One of the simplest ways to help a dog with an upset stomach is to remove food for 12-24 hours. The period without food will give their stomach time to settle down, letting indigestion pass. However, if you have a puppy, limit the fast to just 12 hours.
What to Feed Your Dog
If you don’t want to let them fast, or already have and would like to introduce some foods that will help calm their stomach, here are some great ideas:
- Bland Diet: Forget the regular dog food and give your furry friend just plain rice and chicken. Avoid using any condiments, spices, and oils.
- Canned pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Bananas, and Oatmeal: Try offering these foods to your dog in moderation to eliminate diarrhea. Make sure there are no additives, spices, or condiments. Canned pumpkin for dog diarrhea is particularly effective.
- Bone Broth: Combine meat, water, and apple cider vinegar and slowly cook them. The broth – minus any fat that may appear on top – can help soothe your dog’s stomach.
- Probiotics: Just like in humans, probiotics can help dogs’ digestive tract and immune system. You can give your dog plain, unsweetened yogurt or a canine probiotic like DiarRice.
- Slippery Elm Bark: This herb gets its name from the mucilage, which will help calm your dog’s stomach.
- Avoid Grass: Even though this may be a dog’s go-to remedy, the grass may have dangerous chemicals from fertilizers and it will likely cause them to vomit.
In addition to the home remedies for an upset stomach, we have a few more tips for you.
Over-the-Counter Medication: What to Give a Dog for Upset Stomach
Some over-the-counter medicines can help your dog, but always talk to your vet first. Some popular options include Pepcid (for acid reflux and gurgling stomach) and Pepto-Bismol (for diarrhea).
Change Their Dog Food
If your dog routinely has indigestion, consider trying a new dog food. Every dog is different, and the brand you are currently using may not be a good fit for your dog’s breed or individual digestive system. Ask your vet for some recommendations.
In Case of an Emergency
As we mentioned before, if your dog doesn’t get better or exhibits any more severe symptoms, take them to the vet immediately. If you are concerned about dehydration, especially if you don’t see any improvement after giving them Pedialyte, visit your local vet. Dehydration can be just as serious as a stomach complication.
As you can see, there are several ways to treat upset stomach in dogs, including home remedies. If you have any concerns or aren’t sure if your dog has an urgent issue, call your vet! It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pet’s health.