All dogs will experience stomach upset issues at some point. In majority of cases that is not a cause for concern, and this issue will go away in a day or two. There are also ways to alleviate the symptoms for a dog with upset stomach to make them feel comfortable.
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Note that if your dog is frequently showing signs of stomach upset, especially if they are accompanied by vomiting and/or diarrhea, they may have a food allergy, are sensitive to specific foods or ingredients, or there might be a medical problem that needs to be addressed with a veterinarian. But a dog with upset stomach on occasion can be handled with a minor dietary adjustment and some home remedies.
Symptoms of an Upset Stomach in Dogs
Common tell-tale signs of a dog with upset stomach are:
- Eating Grass or licking the floor
- Nipping at their sides
- Loss of appetite
- Passing very smelly gas
- Gurgling noises from the stomach
Each of these symptoms by themselves doesn’t necessarily indicate an upset stomach in a dog. But if your pet has two or more of these symptoms, or it lasts longer than a few days, it’s likely they’re dealing with tummy issues.
How to Treat a Dog with Upset Stomach
Intermittent fasting is completely safe for dogs as long as it’s for a short period of time, so put your pet on a food time out. A 2014 study with 20 dogs being treated for cancer found how fasting helped with vomiting and diarrhea, and did not pose any dangers.
Therapeutic fasting is not the same as starving your dog, and it’s necessary when a dog is going through bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting that are caused by tummy problems.
A 24 hour fast for a dog with upset stomach will give their digestive system time to recover. While the dog is fasting, ensure access to cool fresh water. The more water a dog drinks, the faster this stomach upset will subside.
2. Bland Meals
Bland foods will be best for a dog with an upset stomach. The most common homemade bland diet for adult dogs is simply mixing 75% of plain boiled white rice with 25% of boiled lean chicken breast without skin/bones (you can also use lean ground beef).
Keep a dog with upset stomach on a bland diet for a few days to prevent any further issues. The symptoms should resolve, and stool should return to normal in about 5 days time, but sometimes the bland diet regimen may take up to 10 days.
Use the below feeding amounts for a homemade diet recipe:
Dogs weighing <5 pounds: ½ cup of food.
Dogs weighing 5 – 15 pounds: ½ – ¾ cup of food.
Dogs weighing 16 – 30 pounds: 1 – 1 ½ cups of food.
Dogs weighing 31 – 50 pounds: 1 ½ – 2 cups of food.
Dogs weighing 51 – 75 pounds: 2 – 3 cups of food.
Dogs weighing 76 – 99 pounds: 3 – 4 cups of food.
Dogs weighing >100 pounds: 4 – 5 cups of food.
Bland homemade diet feeding instructions: For dogs with upset stomach, it’s best to feed them smaller amounts, more frequently. So take the above total amount and break it down into 3 – 6 meals per day (i.e. for a dog of approx. 51 – 75 lbs weight, cook 3 cups of food and separate it into six 1/2 cups to feed six times during the day).
Note: This bland homemade diet should be fed to your dog strictly without anything else added (no other treats, supplements, table scraps, foods or bones) for 4-5 days.
To transition your dog back to a normal diet: When you reach days 4 to 6 on a bland diet and the symptoms have resolved, start reintroducing your pet’s regular diet by gradually mixing it with the bland diet. Keep reducing amounts of bland diet ingredients and increasing amounts of regular food for approximately 5 – 7 days.
Note: When reintroducing a dog back to normal diet, keep up with the frequency of feeding (i.e. 3 – 6 feed times a day) until you’re finished with the transition. Also, still keep all dog treats, table scraps, etc. away from your pet for at least another week.
If homemade dog food cooking is not an option, you can also choose a commercial bland diet food. Pick either a sensitive stomach brand, or among the below best bland dog food brands designed for upset stomach:
3. Feed Some Yogurt as a Source of Probiotics
There are certain foods that are good for a dog with upset stomach. Yogurt contains natural probiotics, the helpful live bacteria (albeit a very small amount) that will relieve an upset stomach, and may help get rid of gas and diarrhea.
Scientists confirm that a helping of yogurt can have a positive effect on a digestive system in humans, mice and our pets, dogs and cats in particular. When feeding it, ensure that it’s plain yogurt, the kind used for cooking, and not flavored or sweetened yogurt.
4. Use Broth During Fasting
Bone broth is a very popular “food” choice for those who are fasting, and it’s particularly good for pets who are going through therapeutic fasting after and during bouts of diarrhea or vomiting caused by stomach upset.
When your pet is hungry for more than just water but isn’t up to solid food yet, either chicken broth or beef broth is a good compromise. You can cook it yourself, or buy pre-made broth. When buying, read the label carefully and make sure there are no spices like onion or garlic.
It can be difficult to find completely plain broth that will be safe for dogs, but some do exist. There are also broths made specifically for dogs, and our three favorites are:
5. Include Sweet Potato or Pumpkin
Finally, another two great bland foods for a dog with an upset stomach are fresh, raw sweet potato and pumpkin (not the store-bought, canned varieties).
Give the dog fresh pumpkin or cook up a couple of sweet potatoes. Remove the skin and mash up the insides then give your dog a few tablespoons to help get rid of diarrhea, gas and soothe their upset stomach.
Sweet potatoes and pumpkin are often part of a bland diet guide for any dog with upset stomach because of their low calorie content and nutrition, their fiber content and that they’re easy on a dog’s digestive system.
How to Prevent Stomach Upset in Dogs
1. Change Your Dog’s Water More Frequently
Water that sits around in your dog’s water bowl can get stale and even start growing bacteria from your dog’s saliva. Studies show that some pet bowls are also making our dogs sick, and it’s better to use a stainless steel bowl than plastic ones.
Also ensure your dog always has fresh cold water to drink. Note that not all tap water is safe for dogs. While it may not necessarily cause stomach issues, hard tap water can have health consequences like urinary health issues, according to a 2016 study.
If you have access only to hard water at home, you’ll need to switch to bottled water or distilled water that is kept in the fridge so it’s always cool. Distilled water is very inexpensive and is much better for dogs than hard water from the tap.
2. Don’t Change Your Dog’s Food Suddenly
Completely switching a pet’s diet all of a sudden can be the reason for a dog with upset stomach. Any diet changes should happen gradually because a dog’s stomach needs time to adjust to new ingredients.
Also, food variety is rarely necessary for dogs, as long as they’re getting a well-balanced meal. More than variety, dogs need consistency when it comes to their diet.
If you are going to change your dog’s food, do it slowly over the course of 6-10 days. Add a handful of new food to a dog’s regular food and then slowly increase the amount of new food mixed with the old food until your dog is comfortable eating only the new food.
3. Don’t Feed Your Dog Human Food
There are certain human foods that are healthy for dogs to consume. But most foods from your table could be the reason a dog’s stomach upset. Their digestive system isn’t designed the same way as ours is, and may not be able to process those foods properly. Some other foods may even be downright deadly.
4. Give Your Dog Probiotics
Studies show that probiotics can benefit a dog’s digestive system. But if you have a dog with upset stomach, you’ll need to first deal with this problem until it goes away completely, and start giving probiotics only after, to prevent future stomach problems.
Probiotics for dogs are a great way to keep their digestive system healthy and prevent diarrhea, vomiting and stomach upset. You can use probiotic supplements, adding them once or or twice a day, or choose foods with probiotics in them (e.g. yogurt).
5. Avoid too Many Dog Treats
Too many rich and high calorie treats are the most common reason a dog develops an upset stomach. No more than 10% of their daily caloric needs should come from treats.
While there are some healthy treats that are less likely to upset a dog’s stomach, still keep the amount to a minimum and only use them as a training reward. Remember that you can also use your dog’s regular dry kibble as treats, which will normally be lower in calories and healthier for the dog.
READ NEXT: The Best Dog Food for Dogs With Diarrhea and Loose Stools
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