Stomach problems are very common in dogs. Almost every dog will go through some tummy upsets at some point. Mostly the stomach problems are minor and clear up after a few days. However, if an upset stomach persists, especially with vomiting and diarrhea, it can be a major problem.
Stomach problems in pets could be a result of many factors. From poor diet, allergies, infections, food intolerance or ulcers. Coffee is very toxic to dogs; it leads to vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, or even death. Keep caffeine away from dogs as it can put them in life-threatening situations.
The most important thing to remember is to monitor your dog’s symptoms closely regularly. This will help in getting a definitive diagnosis of the symptoms. Stomach problems could also be a symptom of underlying diseases including:
Gastritis – This is the inflammation or infection of the stomach lining. It causes a dog to vomit profusely accompanied by diarrhea. Sometimes there can be blood in diarrhea. Gastritis can be caused by infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Gastritis can occur due to a bad reaction to certain medications like NSAIDs. Gastritis can either be acute or chronic.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – IBD still does not have an exact cause. Classic IBD symptoms include chronic diarrhea and/or vomiting. It is not curable but very manageable after an endoscopic biopsy is done by the vet.
Dogs naturally nibble at grass whenever they have stomach pains. Some common symptoms of an upset stomach in dogs include
- Blood in vomit
- Blood in diarrhea
- “Growling” sounds in the stomach area
- Abdominal Pain
- Lack of Appetite
- Excessive drooling
Taking good care of your pet means feeding it the right type of food as well as taking precautionary measures. Here are some great feeding tips that will help your dog avoid coming into contact with common stomach upsets.
Make sure your dog drinks clean water. Establish a routine of always emptying the water bowl after a few hours. Stagnant water is great breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. You could give your dog fresh cooled distilled water or regular tap water. Hygienic hydration will prevent bacterial related stomach problems.
Check on the hydration levels of your dog. This can be done by a simple exercise to establish skin elasticity. Pinch the skin, if it quickly pulls back your dog is okay. If it pulls back at a slower rate, chances are your dog is a little dehydrated.
Pets, especially dogs should be fed with a specific diet by breed, weight and other genetic factors. If your pup is getting all the necessary nutrients in its diet, there is less chance of getting an upset stomach.
If you are planning to switch diets, do so in stages. When pet owner movea to a residence they might suddenly change diet which may cause an upset stomach in dogs. Dog’s stomach takes longer to adjust to new foods and may cause them to get stomach growls. It is also important to limit the amount of human food you feed your pet.
Feeding animals scraps off your dinner table denies your dog the nutrients they need. Dogs will also form a habit of clamoring at the table whenever food is prepared in anticipation of food.
This may be a bit embarrassing if you have dinner guests at your home. Some types of human foods may not go down well with dogs’ digestive system. These foods may be toxic to canines, causing stomach ailments.
What to do if your canine has an upset stomach?
Generally, if you notice your dog is having signs of stomach upsets there are a series of home remedies he can take to alleviate the pain. It is important to assess your dog’s condition in case it is a serious condition that needs immediate veterinary attention,
1. Stop all food and water intake – This is done to ensure the contents of the dog’s stomach are empty. It can be hard since we all love our dogs, but it’s a useful step in reducing stomach upsets. This can be done over 12- 24 hours, and it helps reduce vomiting and diarrhea. Fasting helps the stomach lining to rest if it was previously inflamed
During this fasting period, make sure that he has access to lots of cold fresh water. You could feed them ice cubes or chilled water. If you suspect tap water is the source of the problem, you could try giving your canine purified water or bottled water. Increasing the water intake helps in relieving stomach upsets faster.
2. Reintroducing solid food – After the fasting period is over, re-introduce solid foods. This mainly consists of a bland diet. During the recovery phase, make sure that you do not add any oils, fats or spices to the food.
Give small portions, as you gradually increase the amount of food and water offered over time till you reach the amount of a full meal for the dog. However, if your dog is still not feeling well enough to eat solid foods, try some chicken broth.
Try starting out with boiled white or brown rice. Prepare the rice to be a little mushy and serve in gradual small portions.
Next get some low-fat chicken meat as another form of food. Chicken has proteins which energize your dog and help in the recovery. Make sure you remove the skin and bones, feeding only the tender meat. Chicken meat goes well with rice or porridge and may be serve 6-8 times during the day.
Pumpkin also serves well for upset stomachs. Go for canned pumpkin and mix it into a soup. Because pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber, it helps dogs with vomiting and diarrhea problems. It has an agreeable taste, and your dog will love it.
Probiotics play a very big role in maintaining your dog’s overall health and helps in the recovery from upset stomach. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” The word originates from the Latin preposition pro meaning “for” and the Greek word bios which translates to “life.” In simple terms probiotics are the good bacteria that a dog needs to prevent and treat many diseases.
Probiotics are usually present in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and block the development of harmful bacteria in the body. Some of these harmful bacteria include E. coli, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens, which cause stomach upsets in dogs.
Here are some active probiotics that help in relieving stomach upsets in dogs:
Yogurt helps with inflamed intestines. It is a natural probiotic that alleviates an upset stomach. Administer two or three spoonfuls a day for best results. Also, avoid the flavored brands and go for plain yogurt. Probiotic digestion supplements help in maintaining normal bowel function, as well as hardening of stools
Kefir is a rich source of natural probiotics, made of fermented food that is great for relieving stomach upsets for your canine. Kefir is comprised of milk, kefir grains, yeasts, proteins, lipids and sugar. Most dogs love Kefir as a topping on their food or as a separate snack. Kefir is readily available at the grocery store but make sure you go for the unsweetened version. You can also make your own water kefir or coconut kefir at home.
Organic goat milk
Raw goat milk is rich in natural probiotics. Most people prefer it to cow milk because goat milk has very little concentration of lactose. Lactose contains sugars that may aggravate the upset stomach. Goat milk is also easier to digest than cow milk.
3. Observation stage – If your dog is responding well to the natural remedies, they should have no more vomiting or diarrhea. Lethargy should also have dropped off. Keep an eye out for any resurgence of symptoms.
4. Returning to the normal diet – Take your time and slowly transition your dog from the bland diet to the normal diet. A week should be enough while starting with a ratio of a bland diet to dog food at 1:4. Gradually increase the ratio throughout the week until you fully transition to dog food.
In case the stomach upset persists, do not hesitate to visit your veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Prevention is the best way to avoid stomach upsets in dogs. Provide your dog with clean water, the correct foods and additional supplements. Most stomach upsets are very preventable. It is important to monitor your dog’s behavior if your dog is acting sick or not as his normal self. Look at what they could have eaten or drunk. This will help in identifying the cause of the problem. The home remedies are great for treating a vast array of stomach problems. If you are not sure about your dog’s symptoms seek immediate veterinary attention.
About the Author
Kathryn Brown is a freelance writer. She lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and her pet Duke. When she’s not out exploring other countries, she spends most of her time teaching others how to work remotely while her pit bull, Annabelle, lounges alongside. She’s also an advocate for dogs like hers and aims to spread awareness everywhere she goes and make the pets feel included in the new world of technology.