Vet-Approved Home Remedies for Upset Stomachs in Dogs

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Sometimes we are so upset when our dog has stomachache that we do not know how to help it.

An upset stomach is not always a reason to take your dog to a vet, so we decided to provide you with a short, step-by-step guide to relieving your dog’s upset stomach by yourself.

These natural home remedies for a dog’s GI problems are approved by the veterinary hospital staff, so they are definitely effective and safe.

Of course, these tips are just an option that you can use if your dog has minor stomach problems, or no same-day vet appointments are available.

In the majority of cases, the dogs recovered nicely after using these vet-approved remedies and there was no need for a vet after them.

It is important that you follow carefully the way they should be given to your dog, and these remedies will soothe or heal your dog’s upset stomach.

Noticing that they are not enough and not helpful, then medical treatment is the only option.

Quick Look at the Steps for Relieving Your Dog’s Upset Stomach With Home Remedies

  1. The first thing you need to do is to determine whether the problem is serious or not, so as to know if you should try to soothe your dog’s upset stomach at home. Home treatment is not to be performed if you notice that our dog is lethargic, vomiting, having diarrhea, expressing bloody stools, or getting dehydrated.
  2. Also, it is important to check your dog’s hydration levels. You can do this by examining their skin elasticity or checking their gums for color.  In case you determine that your dog is dehydrated, take it to a vet immediately.
  3. Stomachache can be fixed if you fast your dog for 12–24 hours. How long you will fast your dog depends on size and age. If your dog continues to vomit after fasting, you must see the vet.
  4. It is necessary to limit the amount of water your dog drinks in order not to get dehydrated. Yes, we know that this sounds weird, but if you let your dog drink much water may further irritate the stomach.
  5. You can try feeding a bland diet of rice and low-fat meat, as well as foods such as plain canned pumpkin, a tablespoon or two of yogurt, or probiotics.
  6. A significant thing to do is to always monitor your dog’s condition, especially after fasting and being fed a bland diet. You should expect to see better-formed stools and no more vomiting. If this is not the case, you need to take your dog to the vet.
  7. If you have tried all the above and your dog is still acting lethargic, go see a vet as there must be a more serious condition.
  8. When you decide it is time to re-introduce regular foods, you should to it gradually, as going back to the old diet quickly can cause stomach upset.

Even though we are suggesting home remedies, you should never use this article as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, and seeing or contacting a vet is always the best thing to do.

Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Salivation
  • Desire to eat grass or to lick the carpets/floor
  • Loss of appetite
  • Passing gas
  • Gurgling noises from the stomach

Step 1: Determine If Your Dog Is a Candidate for These Remedies

We consider it important to note that the home remedies you find in this article are not for all dogs and not all states.

There are some conditions that require that your dog see the vet as soon as possible.

An upset stomach may have a serious underlying cause, so if your dog is acting sick or lethargic, running a fever, there could be a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Home remedies are good for dogs who:

  • Have an upset stomach due to the introduction of new foods, as it has to be introduced gradually
  • Underwent a recent dietary indiscretion—meaning if the dog did not consume fatty foods (which can cause pancreatitis), toxic products, or bones that can cause a blockage.

On the other hand, do not try home remedies if your dog is:

  • Acting lethargic
  • Vomiting continuously
  • Having continuous squirts of diarrhea
  • Expressing bloody stools
  • Getting quickly dehydrated.

We needed to mention all these, as home remedies are only for mild cases that may be caused by dietary indiscretions or abrupt diet changes.

The vomiting and diarrhea can be caused by severe and quite serious, so it is better to see the vet than to use home remedies and delay treatment.

If you are sure that your dog may be a good candidate for home remedies, then you can move on to step two and find out whether your dog is dehydrated.

In this case, you can try following the bland diet protocol.

You need to have in mind that according to Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), stomach upsets are the primary reasons to see the vet.

Step 2: Check Hydration Levels

Having noticed that your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, those are reasons to make sure whether or not it is not becoming dehydrated.

Due to continuous vomiting and liquid diarrhea, a rapid loss of fluids may happen and this can be one of the biggest dangers for dogs.

It is worth mentioning that small dogs and puppies become dehydrated more quickly than larger dogs, so you need to check your dog’s hydration levels once you notice the changes.

  • Check for Skin Elasticity—The easiest test for checking hydration levels is to make sure skin is elastic enough. The skin quickly loses elasticity in a dehydrated dog, so you should gently lift the skin on the back or between shoulder blades in a tent using two fingers. Now, you need to make sure that the skin snaps back quickly into position. If this is not the case, or if it stays lifted, then you must re-hydrate your dog quickly. Subcutaneous fluids from the vet should be provided as well.
  • Check the Gums—It is suggested to do this, as a well-hydrated and healthy dog’s gums are a salmon pink color and coated with saliva. What you should do is to run your finger over your dog’s gums. If gums are dry or tacky, this is a sign of dehydration.
  • Also, you can check the dog’s gum capillary refill time (CRT). Actually, in the case of dehydration, the volume of circulating blood is reduced from its normal amount and the gums show this. To check it, you should press on your dog’s gums with your fingertip until the area becomes white. When you remove your finger, you should count how long it takes for the gum’s surface to get back to its normal pink color. This should happen in less than two seconds, as the average capillary refill time in a dog is 1.5 seconds. In case it takes more than that, it can show that the blood is not flowing normally, and you should see your vet immediately.

Step 3: Fast Your Dog

Another thing you can do if your dog has stomach problems is to fast him.

This means that you need to keep food away for about 12 to 24 hours.

You will need to remove all the food with the purpose to allow the gastrointestinal tract of your dog to rest and recover.

This is a natural reaction of many dogs, that lose their appetites, but your dog may not be that sick to lose his appetite, so you come into play by preventing him from further upsetting his stomach with food.

You do not need to worry about your dog’s wellbeing, as fasting for a few hours will do no harm.

Furthermore, according to veterinarian Nancy Scanlan, “fasting or some form of reduced calories also benefits their health.”

In the case of vomiting or diarrhea, fasting for a minimum of 12 to 24 hours is a protocol.

However, how long it will take depends on the age of the dog, so puppies and small dogs should not fast for more than 12 hours.

Owners of a small dog or young puppy, who would like to fast the dog for 12 hours can make use of rubbing a little bit of pancake syrup on his gums so as to prevent his glucose level from dropping.

Still, it is necessary that the pancake syrup does not contain xylitol, which is a potentially lethal artificial sweetener.

Of course, there is no reason to wait if your dog continues to vomit even after fasting.

Vet-Approved Protocols

Step 4: Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Even though it is suggested to keep your dog hydrated, you should never let your dog gulp too much water at once.

This is due to the fact that too much water may cause further stomach upset.

Also, it can lead to more vomit and increase dehydration.

The more serious problems typically happen when a dog that already has an upset stomach gulps down a large quantity of water in a short period of time.

There are many ways that owners can use to prevent the dog from consuming water too quickly.

One of them is to offer ice chips or freezing Gatorade so that the dog can lick it.

After you have done this and no vomiting happened for at least four hours, you can give your dog a bowl with small quantities of water

Later on, if no vomiting happens, you can offer your dog some clear liquids such as plain Pedialyte, Gatorade, apple juice diluted 50:50 with water, or chicken/beef broth—with no onion or garlic—diluted 50:50 with water.

Have in mind that puppies and small dogs dehydrate more quickly than larger dogs, so special attention has to be paid when they get an upset stomach.

Step 5: Start the Bland Diet

The next step is related to an appropriate diet, but only after the 12- to 24-hour fast, and no vomiting.

Now, that your dog is able to keep down small quantities of liquids, a bland diet comes into play.

A bland diet is very similar to the BRAT, and it is easy on the dog’s stomach.

Bland Diet Recipe

To make sure your dog will get proper food while on diet, you will need to possess the following:

  • Boiled rice
  • White meat chicken or extra-lean hamburger

The diet consists of 75% boiled white rice, and 25% low-fat protein (chicken or ground beef).

The rice is the main ingredient for the purpose of binding and the meat is just there to encourage the dog to eat.

If chicken meat is included, the skin has to be taken off and no bones are given.

If a hamburger is given, make sure the meat is lean and the fat is drained off after cooking, due to the fact that the fat may cause the upset stomach to react.

It is very important not to add any oils, fats, or spices to the bland diet.

Three or four small meals should be offered to your dog during the day until you notice that the dog is feeling better.

To see whether your dog is ready for some food, you can offer it a small amount such as a tablespoon and if the dog manages to keep it down successfully, you can offer more food two hours later.

If no vomiting happens, larger meals can be provided.

An example of a gradual introduction of food is the following: start with two tablespoons every two hours to ½ – 1 cup every three or four hours.

What If My Dog Does Not Like the Bland Diet?

Yes, this is a very frequent question and a situation that any owners encounter.

Some of them do not have any rice and chicken or ground beef, while others have a problem that the dog does not like the bland diet.

These people should try to feed meat-based baby food with no onion or garlic in it, which most dogs like.

Also, they can try warming the canned food up or adding a little bit of warm broth.

Actually, lack of appetite suggests that the dog is not feeling very well, so a vet visit can be a better option than forcing the dog to eat.

Some Bonus Ingredients

A dollop of plain yogurt or cottage cheese will help soothe the inflamed stomach if it is accompanied by diarrhea.

Probiotics, such as FortiFlora, are very good when treating diarrhea as their aim is to promote the growth of good bacteria.

Plain canned pumpkin is also helpful with diarrhea being that it firms up the stools, so you can give your pet one to four tablespoons, depending on the size.

Slippery elm bark can help with diarrhea as well.

Step 6: Monitor Closely

If you made sure that your dog is not dehydrated, you have fasted your dog, offered liquids, and started a bland diet, your task will be to monitor closely for progress.

Also, there can be signs of worsening, so you are suggested to monitor carefully.

Taking the dog to the vet is obligatory if it becomes lethargic.

Also, while your dog is on the bland diet, you need to make sure that vomiting episodes do not repeat and his stools are better formed.

What If the Upset Stomach Persists?

An upset stomach despite the fasting and bland diet is a sign that you must take your dog to a vet as it is probably severe, and home remedies will not work.

The persistence of symptoms often means that there may be a more serious problem such as intestinal parasites, protozoans or parvovirus (which is common in puppies), gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, an intestinal blockage, or another condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

Furthermore, there were instances when other organs were also affected, such as the liver and kidneys.

For some less serious issues, the natural home remedy of a bland diet may be helpful.

However,  there are cases that need immediate vet attention and you will be able to notice those more serious issues by taking a closer look at your dog’s behavior.

What If the Bland Diet Worked?

Again, your dog’s behavior will show you whether the bland diet worked.

Your dog will be feeling better, there will be no more vomiting episodes and that is the moment when you can switch again to a regular diet.

Still, you need to be very careful and should not switch too fast as it can cause another upset stomach.

How to Reintroduce Regular Food?

You need to gradually add the regular diet and remove the rice meal.

This has to be done slowly over the course of a few days.

Here are the steps for reintroducing regular food gradually:

  • Offer 75% of the bland rice diet with 25% of the dog’s regular kibble for three days.
  • If everything is OK with the dog then offer half rice diet and half dog kibble in a 50-50 mixture for another three days.
  • Only then you can start feeding 100% of his regular diet again.
  • This protocol should be used when introducing any new food to your pet.

Never Introduce a New Food Right Away!

No matter whether new food is added to your dog’s diet or you are reintroducing its old food, it must be added gradually.

This is emphasized due to the fact that a quick change can cause additional tummy problems.

If you read the feeding instructions on most dog foods, it is stated how you should do this.

The only exception to this rule is the special diet for sensitive tummies which if introduced at once, as they are very bland, do not create problems.

Should My Sick Dog Be Nibbling on Grass?

You may have noticed that your dogs eat grass frantically.

This typically happens when their stomachs are upset.

There are many theories that are used to explain this behavior.

Some veterinarians think that dogs have an innate drive to eat grass so as to feel better.

What actually happens is that the blades of grass trigger vomiting when the right amount is eaten. Still, we suggest that you must discourage this habit, due to the fact that nowadays lawns are treated with fertilizers and chemicals, which can do harm to your dog.

Getting an upset stomach when your dog is on normal food, you need to consider asking your vet to switch foods.

Sometimes, your vet may recommend a special diet for sensitive stomachs.

What About Over-the-Counter Meds?

Yes, there are certain over-the-counter medications that may prove helpful for vomiting or diarrhea, but you need to be extra cautious when using over-the-counter meds.

They should never be used if not overseen by a veterinarian.

The most commonly used to treat diarrhea in dogs are Imodium A/D (loperamide) and Pepto/Bismol, and they are considered safe to be given to a dog, but only in the correct dosage.

Otherwise, they may cause side effects.

Immodium for diarrhea, also known as loperamide, can cause allergies in dogs that are sensitive to it if given in higher than appropriate dosage.

It should never be given to collie breeds and collie mixes, while those dogs that are suffering from hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and Addison’s disease can use it with caution.

Also, this medicine should not be given to elderly or severely debilitated animals without previously checked by a vet.

In case diarrhea has been caused by the ingestion of toxins or bacteria, this medicine should be avoided, as the dog has to clear out the toxins or bacteria from his system.

Dogs weighing under 20 pounds should be given loperamide in liquid form, not tablets, as it can cause side effects such as constipation, bloating, and sedation.

Due to the fact that Pepto contains salicylate which can cause allergies to sensitive dogs.

Veterinarian Mark Papich claims that two tablespoons of Pepto-Bismol contain as much salicylate as an aspirin.

It is a fact that no serious complications are associated with this medicine, no agreement is made that it is helpful.

You may notice darker stools after giving it, and this is considered normal.

Famotidine, also known as Pepcid A/C, is often approved by vets for dogs who have nausea and vomiting.

What About Using Probiotics?

The main aim of using probiotics is to restore good bacteria in your dog’s gut.

This is especially suggested when antibiotics have been prescribed, as they usually wipe away the good bacteria along with the bad.

There are several types of them:

  • Prostora, made by Iams
  • Proviable, made by Nutramax Labs
  • Fortiflora, made by Purina

There are two theories related to the usage of probiotics.

Most vets would recommend giving probiotics after rather than during the usage of antibiotics, .

However, according to the others, the two products can be used together.

There were instances when the antibiotics actually killed some or all of the bacteria contained in the probiotic, making it ineffective.

So as to prevent this situation, vets recommend giving the probiotics several hours after the antibiotics.

Our suggestion is to give your dog that has a sensitive stomach and repeated diarrhea some probiotics.

They will help him restore some healthy bacteria and recover.

It is very important to keep probiotics in a cool place, as they are alive and have a short life If not kept appropriately.

Those who buy probiotics for dog’s upset stomach must check the expiration date so be sure that they are still fresh prior to giving them to a pet.

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