Dogs experience upset stomachs from time to time for many reasons. Some relate to food and others don’t. Some involve signs specific to their stomach (or ‘digestive tract’), like vomiting and diarrhoea, and others don’t.
Common reasons for an upset stomach, involving pet food include:
- New food being introduced to the dog too quickly.
- Feeding too much food at one time.
- Not following the storage and handling instructions of a pet food.
- Feeding out of date food.
- An ingredient in the food not being well tolerated by the dog.
Common reasons not involving pet food include:
- An infection, injury or obstruction within the stomach, intestines and other elements of the digestive tract.
- Something non-food (a foreign body, toxin or irritant) that the dog has eaten, that hasn’t agreed with them in the home, yard or park.
- Any number of other conditions affecting the digestive process.
Signs indicating that your dog may have an upset stomach include vomiting, diarrhoea and less commonly, gas and bloating. Keep an eye on these signs to determine if your dog needs veterinary assessment and possible treatment.
What’s most important when you have a dog with an upset stomach is making sure that veterinary intervention is sought as soon as required. While it’s important to address ongoing signs in any dog, in puppies in particular, serious vomiting and diarrhoea need medical attention as soon as possible. Younger puppies are less resilient than adult dogs and can become dehydrated and malnourished quite quickly.
Regurgitation of food, soon after eating or drinking is different to vomiting and often happens for different reasons,too. Dogs who scoff their food or drink large volumes of water at once soon after intense physical activity may regurgitate and while this isn’t necessarily healthy, might be described as ‘normal’, happening occasionally in an otherwise healthy dog. If it does persist, veterinary attention is required.
Your veterinarian is well placed to assess your dog and provide the most appropriate treatment. Depending on the cause of vomiting and/or diarrhea, treatment will be different but often includes time spent feeding a bland diet while the gastrointestinal system recovers. Your vet may recommend a commercial bland diet, or a home-made diet, generally consisting of cooked chicken and rice. This bland diet helps provide basic calories in a simple and digestible form while the digestive system is recovering.
It’s important that a vet-recommended diet is fed exclusively for the complete time advised by your vet. If feeding a home-made food, do so for a short period of time as this is not a complete or balanced diet, and will not provide your dog with the nutrition it needs to sustain health for any significant period of time.
The goal of any dietary recovery plan from an upset stomach is to allow the digestive system to settle, and recover it’s normal function with a bland diet that is very easy to digest,then to transition back to a high quality, complete and balanced and suitable diet as soon as possible.
Medications may be prescribed by your vet as part of a recovery plan and some veterinarians may recommend a probiotic supplement to help the gastrointestinal system heal and recover.
Over time you may observe that certain foods trigger vomiting or loose stools. Be sure to discuss this with your trusted healthcare professional or the manufacturer of your pet’s food. A different diet may be more suitable and better tolerated by your dog in the long term.