Stomach upset, whether in a human or an animal, is a sign that something is wrong. Not all signs of discomfort by dogs are related to stomach upset, but there are some peculiar signs if it is the case.
Causes of Stomach Upset in Dogs
Food and Diet: The stomach stores and breaks food down. So, if your dog has a stomach upset, there is probably a problem with either what he feeds on or how he feeds. Those are the most causes of stomach upset in dogs. Under this, there is scavenging. Dogs are known scavengers, picking up almost anything, anywhere (even in the thrash) to eat. If your dog does this and has a stomach upset, it is most likely caused by eating stuff they should not ordinarily eat, like decaying materials or even non-food items. This is more common in warmer weather because organic materials go bad more quickly when subjected to heat.
Sudden changes to your dog’s diet can also cause a stomach upset. Changing a dog’s diet should be gradual so that the dog’s digestive system would get used to the new formula. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or a medical condition, he should be fed foods that suit his situation. Not doing so can trigger a stomach upset.
The way a dog eats can also increase the likelihood of it having an upset stomach. Habits such as eating too much, too little or too fast (bolting) can cause it.
Viruses: Stomach upset caused by a viral infection are usually more serious. They are the types that mostly lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Viruses like parvo and corona are particularly notorious for this.
A symptom of a more serious illness: Stomach upset not caused by the above can signal that there is a more serious condition and a visit to the vet is highly recommended.
The condition of the Dog: This has to do with factors such as the age of the dog (older dogs are more likely to have problems with their digestive system), having a sensitive stomach, a weak immune system or any other medical condition requiring special needs etc. Dogs in this category are usually placed on a special diet and deviating from it can cause a stomach upset in the dog. This still somehow relates to the first point that talks about food and diet.
Allergic Reaction: This too relates to food and diet. A stomach upset may be an allergic reaction to certain foods.
Stress: A dog undergoing a lot of stress can have this problem too.
Symptoms of Stomach Upset in Dogs
There are some signs you need to watch out for. Note that these signs may not be associated with other problems too but are noticeable in stomach upset cases. Generally, if a dog manifests any of these signs, it is a sign that something is wrong.
- Loss of appetite
- Hearing rumblings from the dog’s tummy
- Dog producing excessive gas. Flatulence
- Loss of appetite
- Dehydration, especially if it vomits or has diarrhea
- Depression, dullness and a general loss of interest in their surroundings. For the example, a normally playful dog may become quiet
- A special symptom that people are not very used too but which may happen is the dog eating grass or licking the floor. They may do this to reduce their pain. It is not normal for a dog to crave grass but it is possible. If your dog does, something is wrong.
- Diarrhea and watery stooling containing blood
- Frequent vomiting. It may contain blood or yellow coloured bile and usually signals that there is something more serious going on
- Swelling of the abdomen
Usually, you should monitor your dog for 24 hours and see if the signs of pain persist. If they do, see your veterinary doctor. The last three signs (diarrhoea, vomiting, swelling of the abdomen) and visible show of pain (like whining or crying when a sensitive part is touched) may indicate something more serious. If you notice any of those, take your dog for treatment without delay.
What to do when your dog has stomach upset?
For someone who has not seen a dog experience stomach upset before, being clueless as to what to do is inevitable. What should I do? When should I take my dog to see a veterinary doctor?
Fast the Dog: The first thing to do with a dog showing visible signs of stomach illness is to withhold food from it for a 12 to 24 hour period. This is helpful because sometimes the dog’s stomach just needs to rest. Stomachs work hard too, digesting food and an upset is likely if there is no time to rest and recover. To know if your dog is getting better, after the fast, you may give it food in very small amounts, especially for the first normal meal it takes. This helps to test his stomach to know if he is truly fine.
Water: Give the dog access to clean drinking water and watch how he drinks. If he drinks less than normal and is still sick after 24 hours, visit your veterinarian. Your dog could be dehydrated at this point.
Bland Diet: If your dog goes through the fast and shows no sign of pain, continue treatment by giving it a bland diet for the next 24 hours again. If your dog still looks sick after fasting it, or if it vomits or has diarrhea (especially if there is blood in vomit or stool), you should see a veterinarian immediately. The bland diet you may give to him could include rice, white pasta, boiled mashed potato and low-fat meat that are easily digestible. Some low-fat meat you may give to your dog is chicken breast, rabbit, turkey etc. You may also request from your veterinarian, special dog food formulas that aid recovery from a stomach upset.
Natural Dog Gas Relief: One of the common signs of a stomach upset is flatulence (release of excessive gas). Usually, if that is the only thing you notice in your dog, then there may not be a serious problem. It has probably been caused by a change in diet or bad feeding habits. Dealing with such foul odour may not require a veterinarian’s intervention but do well to consult with one because it involves giving your dog some food and supplement. Some of the ways to stop flatulence in your dog are explained below:
- Activated Charcoal: Charcoal is used in times of food poisoning. But it also rids a dog’s intestines of gases when added to his meal. But do not use too much as that can be counterproductive. Charcoal is known to deplete vitamins and minerals in the body and using too much of it may cause nutritional deficiencies.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are microscopic bacteria that boost the workings of the immune system and aid digestion. A very cheap way to get probiotics into your dog is to feed them low-fat yoghurt. Adding 1 to 2 tablespoons to each meal would work for digestive problems like flatulence and runny stools. Yoghurt is a dairy product and you generally need to be careful in feeding your dog such. If your dog is allergic to dairy products, then you may cause him more pain. After adding yoghurt to your dog’s meal, observe him for a while if he is alright.
- Digestive Enzymes are proteins that aid digestion. You would find them in such foods as pure honey, papaya, melon, coconut water etc.
- Parsley: Feeding your dog fresh parsley leaves also helps reduce the incidence of flatulence. If you are unable to get fresh leaves, you may also add a few drops of high-quality parsley essential oil to the dog’s food or water.
- Exercise: Sometimes, all your dog needs to be alright once again is just a stroll. How often do you take your dog on a walk? Overweight dogs that are not exercised regularly release more foul gas. Regular exercise helps reduce flatulence.
- Check their Diet: What a dog eats would determine if it releases excessive gas or not. Know that some fruits and vegetables that are okay for humans may not be okay for dogs. Such include garlic, avocados, onions, grapes etc. By feeding your dog any of these, you risk it having an upset stomach and releasing too much gas. And you must also keep your dog away from eating table scraps, leftovers, raw vegetables, spicy foods, fatty foods and soy products generally. Also, ensure your dog eats high-quality foods which are also easily digestible. Your dog’s food should not contain fillers and by-products. Consult with your veterinarian for an appropriate diet plan because the needs of each dog are different. And note that suddenly changing a dog’s diet would cause digestive problems. So, it is advisable to change his diet gradually over a period of two weeks. More often than not, diet and dietary changes are causes of stomach upset.
- Feeding habits: How does your dog eat? Does he eat too much, too fast? If he does, then he may be swallowing air along with his food which would cause flatulence. Give your dog foods in small amounts. And there are some special food bowls that help a dog eat slower; you should consider those too.
Note that whatever decisions you want to take concerning your dog and his diet especially should be done in consultation with the veterinarian. He would have the medical history of the dog and be able to diagnose what is really wrong with it and prescribe or recommend the necessary steps to be taken. Cases of severe stomach upset – such that causes vomit (with or without blood) or diarrhea (may contain blood also) – should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. Such cases may be indications of something more serious.
Finally, you should know that prevention is better than cure. Try as much as possible to feed your dog the right foods. Make sure also your dog eats well too; he should not eat too much or too fast.