All dogs will experience stomach upset issues at some point. In most 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 an upset stomach to make them feel comfortable.
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 you can handle a dog with an upset stomach on occasion with a minor dietary adjustment and some home remedies.
Symptoms of an Upset Stomach in Dogs
Common tell-tale signs of a dog with an 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, they’re likely dealing with tummy issues.
How to Treat a Dog with an 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 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 caused by tummy problems.
A 24 hour fast for a dog with an 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 an upset stomach on a bland diet for a few days to prevent further issues.
The symptoms should resolve, and stool should return to normal in about 5 days, but sometimes the bland diet regimen may take up to 10 days.
Use the below feeding amounts for a homemade diet recipe:
<5 pounds: ½ cup of food.
5 – 15 pounds: ½ – ¾ cup of food.
16 – 30 pounds: 1 – 1 ½ cups of food.
31 – 50 pounds: 1 ½ – 2 cups of food.
51 – 75 pounds: 2 – 3 cups of food.
76 – 99 pounds: 3 – 4 cups of food.
>100 pounds: 4 – 5 cups of food.
Bland homemade diet feeding instructions: For dogs with an 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 bland diet ingredients and increasing amounts of regular food for approximately 5 – 7 days.
Note: When reintroducing a dog back to the normal diet, keep up with the feeding frequency (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. 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
Certain foods are good for a dog with an upset stomach.
Yogurt contains natural probiotics, the helpful live bacteria (albeit a minimal amount) that will relieve an upset stomach and help get rid of gas and diarrhea.
Scientists confirm that a helping of yogurt can positively affect the 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 trendy “food” choice for those who are fasting, and it’s perfect 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 not easy 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 a 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 an 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 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 an 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 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
Certain human foods are healthy for dogs to consume. But most foods from your table could be the reason a dog’s stomach is upset.
Their digestive system isn’t designed the same way as ours is and may not 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 an upset stomach, you’ll need to first deal with this problem until it goes away completely and starts 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 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 some healthy treats are less likely to upset a dog’s stomach, 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.
When to Take Your Dog to the Vet for a Stomach Ache
You don’t necessarily need to see your vet immediately if your dog likes to eat grass or shows other mild symptoms of an upset tummy.
However, if your dog shows any of the following symptoms, it may be an emergency. If you notice the following, take your dog to the vet immediately.
- Continuous vomiting
- Continuous diarrhea
- Retching, but nothing comes up
- Blood in his stool
- Foreign objects in the vomit or stool
- Distended stomach
- Nervous pacing
- Uncontrollable drooling
- Weight loss
You should also take your dog to the vet for his upset stomach if the symptoms last more than two or three days.
Most of the time, a dog’s upset stomach should clear up within 48 hours, so longer than this may indicate a more serious issue.
Potential Causes of Your Dog’s Upset Stomach
Part of dealing with your dog’s stomach being upset is figuring out what caused the issue.
The most common reason for upset stomach in dogs is because of something your dog ate or how he ate it.
If your dog eats too quickly and immediately goes outside to play, you may find yourself dealing with an upset stomach in dogs.
Or, if your dog eats something bad for him, this can also cause upset stomachs.
Your dog’s stomach may also get upset if he is constipated or has gas. It can also be due to parasites or bacteria.
Yet another possibility is that your dog has food sensitivities.
If your pup’s stomach gets upset regularly, then dog owners may want to ask their vet about possible conditions causing the problem.
Bloating, gastrointestinal infections, obstructions, inflammation, ulcers, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, digestive system cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, motion sickness, or malabsorption can all be causes.
Other potential causes include liver failure, kidney issues, parvovirus, or uterine infections. Your dog may also have a viral or bacterial infection or have ingested poison.
You don’t always need to figure out the cause of your dog’s upset tummy. That is especially true if it goes away on its own or with one of the remedies mentioned above.
However, if it continues or happens frequently, you should visit the vet. He will ask about your dog’s symptoms other than the upset stomach.
He will also likely ask about your dog’s diet. Depending on the symptoms, your dog may also undergo some tests.
Common Questions about Your Dog’s Upset Stomach
Whether your dog only occasionally has an upset stomach or seems to have one frequently, you may still have some questions.
Your vet can answer them for you, but you don’t want to waste his time if it’s not important. The following FAQs should get you closer to understanding upset stomach in dogs.
What Do You Give a Dog with an Upset Stomach?
You can give your dog bland foods instead of his normal dog food. Good options include chicken, rice, pumpkin, baby food, and bone broth.
How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Get Over an Upset Stomach?
Your dog’s stomach issues should disappear within 48 hours or so, possibly within 24 hours.
If you still notice the symptoms after a few days, you should make an appointment with the vet.
What Causes Upset Stomach in Dogs?
There are dozens of potential causes of your dog’s upset stomach. The most common reasons are the same ones humans would have an upset stomach.
These include eating something he should not have eaten or eating too fast right before playing or exercising.
Stomach issues may also be due to parasites, viral or bacterial infections, or a range of other conditions.
Your dog may get an upset stomach if there are issues with his kidneys, liver, stomach, digestive system, or other organs.
A dog’s upset stomach can also be from diabetes, cancer, or a range of other conditions.
As you can tell, some of the causes of a dog’s upset stomach are minor and nothing to worry about. Others are much more serious.
That is why dog owners should always take their pup to the vet for upset stomachs that last more than a few days.
What Medicine Can You Give a Dog for Upset Stomach and Vomiting?
Dog owners frequently wonder if they can give their pup human medicine for an upset stomach.
Most dogs can safely have bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol). However, it is best to consult your vet before giving your dog any human medication.
Your local emergency veterinary hospital can also offer suggestions. They may also give you a prescription after examining your dog.
What Can I Give My Senior Dog for Upset Stomach?
A great option for dogs with stomach aches is canned pumpkin. This is good for your canine’s digestion.
You can also try giving him a tablespoon of unsweetened yogurt. Other options include plain brown rice or boiled and shredded chicken.
When Should I Take My Dog to the Vet for an Upset Stomach?
Take your dog to the local emergency veterinary hospital if you notice blood in his vomit or diarrhea.
You should also take him if he vomits at least three times within eight hours.
READ NEXT: The Best Dog Food for Dogs With Diarrhea and Loose Stools
Want to share this?