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  • Writer's picturePet Waggin' Pet Care Team

What To Do If My Dog Has an Upset Stomach

Disclaimer: Nothing contained in articles and/or content is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for, veterinary medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please refer to your veterinarian.


With the warm weather, it’s time for barbecues and backyard grilling. Unfortunately, that means it’s also the season for vomiting and diarrhea in our dogs. Between our dogs licking water from puddles that might be tainted with parasites… and guests who think sneaking the dog a hot dog can’t hurt them, summer is full of upset stomach potential. What do you do when it happens? How do you know if you should go to the vet or not? We have answers to all of those questions. Keep reading to find out tips and tricks for handling your dog’s upset stomach. 



Is Your Dog’s Tummy Trouble An Emergency?


Some upset stomachs require immediate veterinary attention. Others can be treated at home. How do you know which is which? An upset stomach can be caused by dietary indiscretion, a change to their food, food sensitivity, stress, and more dangerous things like parasites, GDV, pancreatitis, and Parvo. 


dog at vet with tummy upset

Determine how your dog is feeling. If they’re acting normally and are eating and drinking, you can typically just watch and wait. If symptoms last for 48 hours, then you should call your vet. If you wait too long, your dog can run the risk of becoming dehydrated. 


Do you know if your dog got into something? Figure out what they could have gotten into. If there’s evidence of a nighttime trashcan raid, and you know there were only food scraps, then observation is okay if your dog is not in distress. If your dog potentially got into something toxic, immediate veterinary care is needed. 


dog trash tummy upset

Take your dog to the vet immediately if they show any of these symptoms:


  • Nauseous ( you’ll notice drooling and lip licking)

  • No interest in food

  • Your dog is in prayer position, head and paws down, rear in the air 

  • Your dog seems lethargic

  • Abdominal swelling

  • Blood in their vomit or diarrhea

  • Worms in their poop

  • If your dog is an unvaccinated puppy or a senior dog


Even if your dog is not displaying any severe symptoms, if you’re worried, putting in a call to your veterinarian, is never a bad idea. When in doubt, calling your vet is always the best option. 



My Dog Has an Upset Stomach... Now What?


If your dog is still eating normally, or your vet has seen a picture of your dog’s stool and has determined you can treat it at home, there are a few helpful home remedies. 


Bland Diet


Chicken and Rice


Even if your dog seems okay and is eating and drinking, their stomach is still inflamed and sensitive. They may need to be on a bland diet for up to three days to give their stomachs time to heal. 


dog chicken and rice diet

This basic chicken and rice recipe is gentle on your dog’s stomach and easy to put together. In general, a 1:1 ratio is recommended, but please refer to your vet for the best ratio for your dog.


You will need


  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 cup white rice

  • Chicken broth or water


Boil the chicken until it is cooked through, about 12 minutes.


In a separate pot, prepare the rice. Use 2 cups of broth or water to 1 cup of rice.


Once the chicken is cooked, shred it with a fork. Mix the chicken and rice, and store covered in the refrigerator.


You can also try substituting a cubed, boiled, plain sweet potato for the rice. 


Pumpkin


You can also try offering a spoonful of canned pumpkin to your dog. Pumpkin provides fiber which can help add bulk to your dog’s stools. Pumpkin also acts as a prebiotic and stimulates water absorption in the intestines.


Ice Cubes


Drinking too much water too quickly can make an upset stomach worse. To prevent further irritation to your dog’s stomach while keeping them hydrated, offer ice cubes instead. They will still be able to get the fluids they need, without causing themselves further discomfort. 


OTC Remedies


Some over-the-counter medications can be given to your dog sparingly. Like any medication, they can interact with anything your dog is already on. Call your veterinarian before giving any of these to your dog. 


Pepcid and Prilosec- These heartburn medications can be offered to your dog if they suffer from reflux, which can be present as vomiting or gastric ulcers. 10 mg per 20 lbs is the standard, but consult with your veterinarian for the correct dose for your dog.


Pro-Pectalin- This is a supplement that you can purchase to help with diarrhea. It can be used with both dogs and cats. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the packaging.



Preventing An Upset Stomach


You can’t guarantee your dog will never have an upset stomach, but there are a few steps you can take to help reduce them. Especially if you have a dog with a tender tummy. 


  • Introduce pre and probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that naturally live in the digestive tract. Studies have shown they play a major role in gut health. Prebiotics encourage the growth and health of these organisms. 


  • Don’t offer your dog table scraps. It can be tempting to offer your dog a hot dog that fell off the grill or a scrap of unfinished burger. Unfortunately, this can lead to an unsettled stomach at best and pancreatitis if your dog is feasting on too many fatty items. 


  • Vaccinating your dog for Leptospirosis can help prevent them picking something up while outside. Even if your dog just goes outside for quick potty breaks, they run the risk of contracting the virus.


dog drinking from puddle

  • Try to prevent your dog from drinking standing water in parks and in your yard. Lapping water from contaminated sources like puddles, lakes, and rivers is how most Giardia infections are acquired in dogs. Giardia is transmissible to humans, so if your dog gets it, there is a chance everyone in the house can. 


We hope that these tummy trouble tips help you prepare and navigate any issues that come up. As always, your veterinarian is the best resource, so please keep them informed and ask questions pertaining to your unique pet.

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