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Health & Wellness

What can I give my dog for an upset stomach?

Here’s what could be causing the discomfort, too.

Saltines and a can of Ginger Ale might be your go-to remedy for an upset stomach — but, easing a dog's tummy ache isn't so simple. Dr. Lindsey Bullen, DVM, DACVIM, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington D.C., tells The Dig that there are several reasons a dog can experience an upset stomach. Here are the main causes and how to treat them. 

What causes an upset stomach in dogs? 

According to Dr. Bullen, “literally anything” can cause an upset stomach in dogs. However, the most common causes of an upset stomach include: 

  • Getting into trash
  • Eating people-friendly food (especially when a dog isn’t used to it)
  • Switching diets or food brands without an appropriate transition
  • Treats
  • Underlying disease
  • Over-or under-eating 
  • Food allergies

A dog’s stomach sensitivity is what often triggers an upset stomachs, rather than breed or age, Dr. Bullen adds. 

Signs your dog has an upset stomach

The symptoms of an upset stomach in dogs generally depend on the severity and your pet's stomach sensitivity. “It could be anything from eating more slowly or skipping a meal all the way to vomiting, lethargy or dehydration,” Dr. Bullen notes. 

If your dog has been sick or not eating for over 24 hours, or if they’re unresponsive or lethargic, Dr. Bullen recommends seeking call your vet or going in for a check up. 

Remedy for upset stomach in dogs

Your veterinarian is the best person to determine the suitable treatment options for your dog’s upset stomach. “A veterinarian will diagnose the reason for the upset stomach so that we can better target specific therapies to help the pet get better,” Dr. Bullen says. 

Keep your pet hydrated with water or water flavorings (for example, water with low-sodium broth without onions or garlic) and tempt them to eat by warming their food, as long as they’re not vomiting.

Most mild cases of upset stomach are cured within 24 to 36 hours, Dr. Bullen says. However, it depends on the cause and severity as some upset stomachs last for days or weeks.

RELATED: What can I give my dog for constipation?

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What to give a dog for an upset stomach?

Never introduce your pup to a new medication without your vet’s approval. Pursued treatments depend on the underlying cause of a dog’s upset stomach. Typically, though, Dr. Bullen says veterinarians will recommend the following medications: 

  • Anti-nausea medications
  • IV or subcutaneous fluids
  • Stomach acid suppressors 
  • Additional treatments depending on the cause

What can I do to prevent my dog from having an upset stomach?

A simple way to prevent a dog from having an upset stomach is to keep people food away from them. If you know your pet has a sensitive stomach, don’t feed your pet treats or table scraps (it’s a good idea to let guests know, too). 

Depending on the cause of your dog’s upset stomach, your veterinarian may recommend a specific diet. For example, if a dog has pancreatitis, a diet that’s low in fat would be recommended to reduce inflammation or stimulation of a dog’s pancreas. 

When a dog sticks to a highly digestible diet, it means their body has to do less work breaking it down — that’s why Dr. Bullen often prescribes this lifestyle for pups with upset stomachs.

Photo by Neil Cooper on Unsplash

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