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What To Give A Dog For Upset Stomach: Remedies To Settle A Sick Tummy

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Last Updated: March 21, 2024 | 11 min read | 630 Comments

This content was reviewed by veterinarian Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM.

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Beagle dog laying on sofa with upset stomach.

Does your dog have an upset stomach? Dogs normally eat grass to clean out their system. This is a natural method of soothing your dog’s sick tummy.

However, this won’t always do the trick. In fact, your dog may not even feel like eating grass. I’ve got some additional tips to share to help cure your dog’s upset tummy. I also cover some common causes of an upset stomach in dogs and when it’s time to call the vet.

What Are Common Symptoms Of An Upset Canine Belly?

If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms or unusual behaviors, they may be suffering from an upset stomach.

  1. Appetite loss
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Floor licking
  4. Flatulence
  5. Grass eating
  6. Gurgling stomach noises
  7. Salivation
  8. Vomiting

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Home Remedy vs Vet Consultation

Often, you can treat your dog at home for an infrequent sick stomach. However, if they have repeated incidents or experience any of these more serious symptoms, we recommend that you take your dog to a veterinarian right away.

Symptoms That Require A Vet Visit

  1. Anxious pacing
  2. Bloody stool
  3. Continuous vomiting
  4. Dehydration
  5. Distended stomach
  6. Dry vomiting (nothing coming out)
  7. Fever
  8. Lethargy
  9. Ongoing diarrhea
  10. Uncontrollable drooling
  11. Weight loss

Any of these symptoms could point towards a more severe condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Blood in your dog’s stool, vomiting blood, persistent vomiting or diarrhea longer than 24 hours, refusal to eat or drink, lethargy, and severe pain are all signs your dog needs

Even if your dog has only mild stomach upset, always talk with your vet before trying any home remedies.

Tips To Cure Your Dog’s Upset Stomach

Here are a few things you can try at home before seeking medical attention.

Keep Your Pup Hydrated

One of the most important things is to keep your pup hydrated at all times. Hydration won’t cure an upset stomach, but it can help your dog feel better. This is especially important if they are experiencing lots of vomiting or diarrhea. Dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea occurs because the dog is losing too much fluid.

Don’t assume that you can prevent dehydration by offering water to your furry pet. Your dog may feel so icky that they don’t even feel up to drinking water.

Losing fluid also means losing essential electrolytes and vitamins. One possible solution to this dilemma is to use Pedialyte.

You can obtain a dry mixture made for animals by going to your nearest farming store. The packet is mixed with water and then fed to the dog (check with your vet first before giving the mixture to your dog). If your dog does not improve quickly, do not continue to try self-treating. Dehydration in dogs can quickly progress from a passing concern to one of possible organ failure and even death.

So, please, if your dog’s symptoms last more than 24 hours, take him to the vet immediately for treatment.

Should You Give Your Dog Pepto-Bismol Or Pepcid?

Another remedy is a little bit of Pepto-Bismol or Pepcid crushed and mixed with water (the amount will depend on your dog’s weight — consult your veterinarian). It is possible that these product manufacturers may change their formulas over time and may not be as safe as they once were for pups. As with any treatment, always consult a vet before proceeding with treatment. Learn more about Pepto Bismol for dogs.

Note that the Pepto-Bismol or Pepcid may make your dog’s stool darken quite a bit — this is not a reason for alarm.

Check Your Dog’s Temperature

We recommend using a rectal thermometer because it is the most accurate option (put lube on the thermometer first). An ear thermometer is also an option, but it is not as precise. A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5°F. A temperature above 104°F is a fever. If the temperature is higher than 104°F or lower than 99°F, you should go to the vet or emergency vet hospital immediately. A fever or drop in body temperature signals a serious illness that requires prompt veterinary treatment.

Find Out What Your Dog Ate

Looking for clues may help the vet’s diagnosis of your dog’s situation. If your dog has nibbled on any houseplants, that’s a red flag. Many houseplants are toxic to dogs. Also, check the trash bags and cans around your home for signs of scavengers. Be sure to reference our list of foods not to feed dogs for more possible toxic foods to consider.

Products To Calm Your Dog’s Upset Stomach

Here are a few products you can try out that have proven to be successful for other sick pups.

DiarRice For Dogs

DiarRice Probiotic for Dog Diarrhea, Bloating, Gas, and Stomach Discomfort.

View DiarRice on Amazon

Rice is a natural remedy for diarrhea symptoms in humans, but pups can’t digest it as well, and therefore, it could further upset their stomachs. However, DiarRice is a rice-based probiotic with all the same soothing properties as rice in an easily digestible format that tastes like chicken.

You can mix it with either wet food or dry food (adding a little water). DiarRice should start working immediately. So, if you don’t see signs of improvement right away, you should seek further medical attention.

Follow the product’s instructions carefully.

Pedialyte

Pedialyte Electrolyte Powder, Electrolyte Drink, Orange package of 6 Powder Sticks

View Pedialyte on Amazon

If your dog still isn’t feeling well and you wish to feed them Pedialyte or some other mixture that will help prevent dehydration, you’re going to need a syringe (without a needle) and a towel. Your dog isn’t going to want to eat anything, just as you don’t want to eat when you don’t feel good. Because of this, you may need some assistance when feeding your dog.

After filling the syringe with the mixture, lay your dog on their side. Open their mouth and slowly empty the syringe’s contents. If your dog still doesn’t want to swallow the mixture, gently massage their throat to prompt the swallowing response.

Another method is positioning the syringe inside the back of your dog’s cheek and emptying the syringe’s contents. Again, massage the throat as needed for swallowing. If you choose to use the cheek method, watch to make sure the liquid does not come out the other side of the mouth. Sometimes, dogs will let the liquid drain out if they don’t have the energy or urge to swallow.

Remember to talk with your veterinarian before giving your dog Pedialyte. You want to be sure that it’s safe to give your dog Pedialyte and that you’re giving your dog the appropriate amount for their size.

Probiotics For Dogs

If your dog suffers from chronic digestive problems, a dog probiotic could help. Probiotics for dogs work the same way as they do for humans. The formulas contain living gut-friendly bacteria found naturally in the digestive tract and other areas of the body.

Ingesting probiotics is intended to maintain healthy levels of good bacteria, prevent gastrointestinal problems, and boost the immune system after disruption from illness, infection, antibiotic treatment, or other stressors.

There are many pet probiotic products available, so be sure to read our article that highlights the best probiotics for dogs and includes more information on how these products can help solve your pup’s digestive problems.

7 Natural Remedies To Cure Your Dog’s Upset Stomach

Some natural home treatments can do the trick if you prefer not to give your dog human medications. However, these may not be the best cure for your dog, so make sure you check with your veterinarian before proceeding.

A bland diet can often help with soothing stomach pain. Some natural home remedies include:

  1. Banana baby food – A bland option to help settle things down. Pups like the taste, and it can benefit skin and coat health, too.
  2. Rice with boiled chicken (boneless and no salt or seasonings added) – The exact portion can vary by dog. We suggest starting with a half cup of cooked rice and about 4 ounces of chicken. If your dog isn’t drinking water, add some water to the mixture as well. Do not use hamburger meat (ground beef) – This is a fairly common recommendation on forums, but the meat is too greasy and will not help your dog’s upset stomach (nor is it healthy for your dog).
  3. Bone broth – Bone broth is a good source of nutrients for your dog. When your dog needs to be on a bland diet, adding the broth gives them nutrients and hydration. Bone broth can be beneficial for dogs with chronic digestive issues like leaky gut.
  4. Pumpkin puree – If your pup has an upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation, add a couple of tablespoons of plain pumpkin puree to help regulate things and soothe their sore tummy.
  5. Ice chips – Ice chips can provide hydration and give your pup something to crunch. You can also make ice chips out of bone broth, which they like even more.
  6. Ginger – Ginger has great benefits for gastrointestinal health. It promotes healthy digestion and can soothe intestinal cramping. You can boil the fresh ginger root in water to make your pup a soothing drink or add fresh or powdered ginger to their food.
  7. Honey – Honey is more than a sweet treat. It has soothing properties and can help calm your pup’s upset stomach.

What Causes Dogs To Get An Upset Stomach?

You might be curious to know what caused the upset stomach to begin with. The causes of an upset stomach in dogs could stretch a mile long. We’ll go through a few common causes here.

Changing Your Dog’s Food

Although dogs will eat almost anything you put in front of them, their stomachs don’t always agree with this free-for-all type of consumption. One of the most likely causes of an upset stomach is a change in diet. Something as simple as a change in brand or flavor of dog food can upset a dog’s tummy. Also, making that shift too quickly can cause upset because the digestive system needs time to adjust to diet changes.

So, make sure you still have some of your dog’s current food to allow time for the transition. For about a week, slowly start mixing in more and more of the new food into less and less of the current food until the shift is complete.

Read our articles on changing dog food and transitioning your puppy to adult dog food for more specific details. Go slow and keep an eye on your dog while changing food to make sure they remain healthy. Make sure your dog doesn’t eat too fast (even if they absolutely love the new food), as that can also cause an upset tummy. Consult your vet if you have any questions during this process or run into any health concerns.

If you haven’t changed your dog’s diet, you might start searching for another reason.

Common Causes and Treatments For A Dog’s Upset Stomach Infographic

Common Causes and Treatments For a Dog's Upset Stomach Infographic.

Dangers Of An Upset Stomach

While a sick tummy may be a relatively innocent and temporary ailment, it could also be an indicator of a more significant concern to explore with your vet. Below, I detail some of the conditions that require a greater level of care and urgency.

Dehydration

Dogs (and especially young pups) are very susceptible to dehydration. This occurs when the body is unable to retain fluids. Water makes up around 75% of a dog’s body weight, but even consuming large amounts of water may not be enough to prevent dehydration in your dog.

Chronic vomiting and diarrhea cause dogs to lose a lot of fluid, leading to dehydration. If your dog has been experiencing a lot of vomiting or diarrhea (or both) and has little interest in eating or drinking, it is on the fast track to dehydration.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Dehydrated?

You can check to see if your dog is dehydrated by assessing their skin and gums. If you lift your dog’s lip, the gums should have a shiny, wet film and should feel wet to the touch. Gums that feel sticky and dry indicate dehydration.

Use the skin turgor test (also known as the skin tent test) to evaluate the skin for dehydration. To perform this test, squeeze the skin behind the neck to form a skin tent. Release the skin. If the skin stays in the pinched position, your dog is dehydrated. If it automatically goes back to lying flat on the neck, your dog is not dehydrated.

The skin turgor test is the same method used to check for dehydration in humans. If you’ve ever had someone pinch the skin on your hand and then watch to see if it goes back to its original form, you have experienced the same kind of dehydration test.

Underlying Issue

In addition to discomfort and possible stomach pain, an upset stomach may also be a symptom of an underlying issue. Your dog may have something as mild as the flu or as life-threatening as the parvovirus. If your dog has a bacterial infection or a virus, they are likely to show other signs along with an upset stomach. Should the condition persist, the most dangerous threat is likely dehydration.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an underlying condition that causes inflammation in the digestive system and intestines. The inflammation interferes with digestion and damages the stomach lining. Dogs with IBS have an excessive growth of inflammatory cells. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea, chronic vomiting, stomach pain, low appetite, weight loss, and more.

We do not yet understand the cause of IBD, but many veterinarians believe it is a response to another medical condition. These can include bacteria, parasites, food allergies, a genetic marker, or a weakened immune system. In some cases, your vet may put your dog on a special hydrolyzed diet, which is easier to digest and can help narrow down the cause of discomfort.

Due to similar symptoms, IBD can often be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a condition that largely affects the large intestine. It is often caused by infection, stress, and diet changes. Both can cause intense pain and disruptions to your dog’s digestive system.

If You Have An Emergency, Call The Vet

If your dog is very ill and you cannot figure out how to help them, please call the vet.

The Veterinarian Knows Best

No website can compare to a trained veterinarian and an actual in-person physical exam to determine the best treatment plan and guide you through this difficult time.

If you don’t already have pet insurance, consider getting it, as it can help save you money in future emergencies (in addition to protecting your dog’s health). Check out our pet insurance comparison, which has multiple tables to help you easily analyze the providers based on coverage, price, waiting periods, age restrictions, and more.

Watch this video to learn the benefits of getting pet insurance and how it can help your dog (plus your pocketbook) in the future.

As dog owners ourselves, we know how challenging it can be to see your pup suffer. We hope your dog is feeling better soon. Do you have any tips or treatment methods that have helped soothe your dog’s tummy? Please share with us in the comments.

What Goes In Your Pup’s Bowl Matters

A large majority of doggy stomach issues are food-related. Feeding your pup a healthy diet from puppyhood to their senior years helps to keep them regular and avoid tummy troubles. Their nutritional needs will change as they age, and keeping up with this can help them with healthy digestion. As your dog ages, you may notice a difference in appetite, food tolerance, behavior, and energy. Learn more about how to care for your senior dog in our guide.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Michelle has been a dog owner her entire life. She has tossed lots of human snacks to her hounds over the years, but not before doing lengthy research to find out which are safe, which can be given in extreme moderation, and which are off limits! She’s also managed many upset dog tummies (at home and the vet) because even if food is considered safe for most, it is not always okay for every canine. She’s part of a team of dog specialists at Canine Journal who have over a decade of experience researching, testing, and writing about everything you need to know to keep your pup healthy and happy.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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