We’ve all dealt with a dog with an upset stomach. Maybe they curiously chose not to eat a meal, or they’re outside eating grass, they’ve had digestive issues or they’re just not their regular old selves. It happens. Dogs, just like people, sometimes eat something that doesn’t agree with them. And sometimes they pay the price.
The good news is that often, it’s just what it seems like: an upset stomach. Who doesn’t get a bellyache from time to time? And you can help your dog feel a little better until the achy tummy passes.
Make sure it’s not serious
Let’s be very clear: If you suspect that your dog has a problem beyond a stomachache, call your veterinarian immediately. While it’s always a good idea to check in with your vet if you suspect your dog ate something they shouldn’t have, if they display any of the following signs, do not hesitate to pick up the phone. Each of these could be a signifier of a serious problem:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Severe lethargy
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Blood in vomit or feces
- Loss of appetite for more than one day
If it’s just a tummyache
If it’s determined that there isn’t a deeper issue beyond an upset stomach, your veterinarian may suggest a few at-home remedies to make your dog feel a little better.
Fast, then go bland
Try withholding food for 12 to 24 hours, so the digestive tract has a chance to rest. Chances are, your dog may choose to fast for this period, anyway. After the “no-food” period, try a bland diet, such as boiled hamburger or chicken and rice. Your vet may recommend a therapeutic dog food as well.
Hydration is key
Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so keeping them hydrated is crucial. However, if your dog gulps too much water, they’ll only make their stomach feel worse, so it’s a good idea to monitor their water intake and initially offer only small amounts at a time. If they’re able to keep small quantities of water in their system, you can gradually increase the intake. In mild cases of dehydration, your veterinarian might recommend subcutaneous fluids. However, if your dog isn’t able keep water down, hospitalization may need to be considered.
Medications may help
Your veterinarian might also suggest anti-nausea medications or probiotics to help restore the normal balance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. It’s important to follow these instructions to the letter. While it may be tempting to give your pet over-the-counter vomiting or diarrhea medications, don’t do it unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian. Many products that are deemed safe for humans can be extremely toxic for pets.
Regular occurrences can be a signal of something more
Everyone gets sick once in a while, especially dogs who like eating things they shouldn’t. But if an upset stomach happens often, it may be a signal of something more serious. Discuss the issue with your veterinarian to ensure that it’s not a food allergy or chronic illness.
Back to normal
As the symptoms of their upset stomach subside, you can gradually transition your dog back to their regular diet. And that will help you both feel better.
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