Like us, our pups suffer from stomach upset occasionally. Here’s some information about the causes and symptoms of upset stomachs in dogs, how to make your pup feel better, and when to visit the vet.
Common causes of upset stomach
Many things can disrupt your dog’s digestive system and give them the “runs”, or less frequently, constipation. One common cause is they ate something they shouldn’t have.
Here are the 10 most common reasons for doggie diarrhoea.
- Garbage toxicosis. Eating too much garbage or spoilt food.
- Diet change. Doggie diarrhoea can happen when switching a dog to a new diet. It takes a few days for a dog’s digestive system to adapt to new proteins. That’s why many dog-food manufacturers recommend that you go slow when you switch from one pet food to another.
- Food intolerance or allergies. Diarrhoea is a common symptom here but in the case of true allergies, the dog may also suffer from intense skin itching.
- Parasite infection. Common parasitic infections found in dogs are Roundworm, Hookworms, Whipworms, Coccidia, and Giardia.
- Ingesting poisonous substances, plants or chemicals.
- Swallowing an indigestible foreign body, like a toy or socks.
- Viral and bacterial infections. Common infections include Parvovirus, Distemper, Coronavirus, and Salmonella
- Illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
- Long-term use of antibiotics and other medications that may disrupt the intestinal microflora leading to a weakened, sensitive digestive system.
- Stress or emotional upset.
When You Can Treat Diarrhoea at Home
Your dog is acting normally – still energetic, playful with a good appetite and no vomiting – you can attempt to treat your dog at home. For young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with pre-existing health conditions, it is always best to consult your veterinarian. These dogs have lowered immunity, and an illness that starts as common diarrhoea can spiral into more serious health issues.
How to Treat Your Dog's Diarrhoea at Home
Plenty of rest
This is not the time to make your pooch run around the block. Just like us, dogs need plenty of rest when they are unwell. Give your dog a quiet and comfortable place for him to recover. You may want to move his favourite bed or set up a rest corner close to a door. This will make it easier for him to go outside when he has the “runs”. If your home does not have direct access to the outdoors, set up the rest corner at a place with an easy-to-clean floor for those unfortunate accidents.
Fast your dog for 12 to 24 hours to allow his gastrointestinal tract to rest and recover. This means no treats, regular meals, snacks – food of any kind.
Before you decide on a fast, be sure that your dog is healthy enough to endure it. If your pup is weak or has a pre-existing health condition, please talk to your vet before attempting to fast or treat his diarrhoea at home.
After a fast, when the diarrhoea (and vomiting) has subsided offer simple, bland food. Offer in small amounts, 1 to 2 Tablespoons at a time, and monitor your dog’s condition. Increase the frequency of feeding if no diarrhoea occurs.
Here are some bland foods for upset stomachs.
Boil high-quality rice in a lot of water, remove the grains, and offer the dog the creamy white soup that’s left. Add a splash of broth to make it more palatable. This Bone Broth Dr. Premium Beef Frozen Bone Broth For Dogs is a good option as it uses only human-grade ingredients and does not contain any food chemicals that may worsen your dog’s troubled tummy. This bone broth is made specifically for dogs of all ages.
Plain white rice with boiled chicken breast meat.
Skinless, lean chicken meat is preferred as too much oil may trigger tummy upset again.
Steamed pumpkin with some boiled chicken breast meat.
Pumpkin is effective in helping relieve both diarrhoea and constipation. You can steam and mash some pumpkin or use a can of pumpkin puree. Do make sure it’s pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling!
Specially formulated dog foods.
Some manufacturers offer sensitive stomach dog foods that can soothe stomach problems. You may need to obtain these from your vet.
Apart from bland food, there are over-the-counter remedies with kaolin that helps to absorb toxins in the gut and firm up loose, soft stools like this Furment Postbiotics Plus Gel for Dogs & Cats. This supplement is an excellent food poisoning and diarrhoea remedy. It is fast acting, and it contains not only kaolin but also prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics that help to improve immunity and overall digestive health.
You must maintain your dog’s hydration. Much water is eliminated from the dog’s body during this period. Monitor your dog’s drinking habit and try to encourage him to drink if he is not. Giving bone broth or rice water is a safe way to encourage him to drink more and improve hydration.
When to call the vet
- Your dog has ingested a poisonous substance.
- Your dog has ingested a foreign body, such as a toy.
- Your dog has low energy, loss of appetite, and weak.
- There is blood in the poop. The stool is black and /or tarry Your dog’s gums are pale, bluish, whitish, or grey.
- Your dog is straining to poop and not much is coming out.
- Your dog’s stomach is bloated, and your dog is suffering from pain - rapid panting, groaning, excessive drooling, and avoiding being touched.
- Vomiting (typically more than once or any time water and/or food is consumed).
- Diarrhoea has lasted more than 36 hours despite home remedies.
How to prevent upset stomach
Dogs will experience an occasional episode of loose stool. They are curious and they may pick up spoilt food or other substances. While we may not be able to prevent it totally, we can strengthen our pup’s digestive health and immunity to minimise the occurrences of doggie “runs” with a good probiotics supplement, made for dogs, and a species-appropriate diet.
These occasional doggie runs are usually not a serious health issue and will resolve within 24 hours with a fast, bland diet and over-the-counter remedies. However, if your pup is showing signs of multiple food intolerances, skin itching, behavioural changes, and suffering from chronic diarrhoea, then a visit to the vet is a must.
There are things that you may find helpful in dealing with chronic diarrhoea issues at home but discuss them with your vet before offering them to your dog.
- The CAHO Nucleotide Cell Renewal & Gut Health Supplements For Dogs. While this isn’t a treatment for diarrhoea, this nucleotide supplement helps to reduce gut inflammation, encourages intestinal cell repair, and improves the dog’s natural immune response. This supplement is especially useful for dogs suffering from a condition called “leaky gut” and inflammation. Symptoms often include multiple food intolerances, chronic diarrhoea, and behavioural issues.
- For dogs that need additional fibre in their diet to help with bowel regularity, try this Kin+Kind Healthy Poops Dog & Cat Supplement. It contains pumpkin, flax seed, and coconut, all fibre-rich foods to create bulk and improve bowel regularity.
- Often, dogs experiencing chronic diarrhoea suffer from food allergies or intolerances and require a diet change. Freeze-dried dog food with a single novelty protein and limited ingredients is a good option. Consider the Absolute Holistic Freeze Dried Patties Dog Food (Venison).
Most healthy dogs experience an occasional episode of loose stool that resolves within 12 to 24 hours. The usual cause is indiscriminate eating or stress. But if diarrhoea doesn't resolve within 36 hours or is a regular occurrence, it’s time to see your vet for further investigation. Chronic loose stools are not normal and are always a cause for a further veterinary check-up.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practising Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.