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Does Your Dog Have a Stomachache? When is it Serious?

We’ve all had those days when we just can’t hold a thing down and atrocities are exiting our body from both ends. Dogs get stomachaches too, and the outcome is pretty much the same. Unfortunately, dogs don’t know to run to the toilet to contain the mess! Nope! It is deposited here, there, and everywhere; left for you to clean. SO GROSS! What should you do when your dog has a stomachache?

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Yesterday, our bedroom turned into a royal poopoopalooza! Salem had acquired a dastardly case of the runs. It was in our closet and all over the floor. Forget the “Floor is Lava”, our floor was POOP! No matter where you went there was no safe place, and the poor guy was miserable! Have you ever had the pleasure of witnessing a Golden Retriever with diarrhea? His feathers were even coated in smelly excrement. What caused it; I do not know; but my poor husband was stuck cleaning it up at 4am. It was God awful! It may have been the worst I had ever seen!

What Causes Dog Stomachaches?

Eating garbage can certainly give your dog a stomachache.

Contrary to popular belief a dog’s digestive system is very delicate, and most often the cause is diet related. Dogs do not tolerate changes in their regular diets very well so switching foods abruptly is a common cause of an upset stomach. Always introduce a new food slowly over the course of a week.

Dogs love food and are, quite often, driven by their sense of smell. They are natural opportunist. If the opportunity presents itself a dog will break into their stored food, the cat food, or your lunch on the counter and indulge. This excess food, especially the abnormal diet items, can quickly cause a stomachache.  

Scavenging is natural for dogs. When our dogs go outside, the first thing they do is hunt down one of our barn cats to see if they are carrying something tasty. Eating dead things sounds repulsive to us, but decedent to them. Same goes for eating garbage. Grossness! Whether it be a dead thing or last nights dinner in the trash bacteria have begun the decomposition process; bacteria that can cause your poor dog a stomachache.

How You Can Avoid Upsetting Your Dogs Stomachache

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The dog looks at the grilled treat. Siberian husky sits near the table with meat and asks for food.

You’re not going to keep your dog out of everything. He will get into something at sometime no matter how diligent you are, but these are ways to keep the occurrences to a minimum.

  • Keeping your dog on a set diet is the best way to avoid…well, emergency voiding.
  • If changing brands or type of dog food change slowly over a course of a week. Starting at 75% old food and 25% new food. Increase the new food after a couple of day while decreasing the old food.
  • Make sure your dog doesn’t have access to animal foods such as the bag of dog food, cat food, horse grain, chicken food, etc. 
  • Keep lids on trash cans both inside and out.
  • Avoid giving your dog excess treats.
  • Don’t leave people food out unattended.

Signs Your Dog Has a Stomachache

Your pooch isn’t going to come up and tell you he has an upset tummy, so how do you tell. Well, there are the obvious messes that it causes, but there are some other signs too. Your dog may shy away from their food dish, wanting to eat but just not able to. They may start drooling or licking their lips. Another sign is eating grass (although the grass doesn’t make them vomit).

Home treatment For a Dog’s Stomachache

Eggs are a wonderful bland food to feed to a dog with a stomachache.

First thing to do is take food away. This gives the dog’s digestive system time to settle. Make sure they have access to water. Once they have been able to hold down water and no longer is showing signs of nausea you can start offering food slowly. Start by offering a low-sodium broth. If he holds that down for a couple of hours offer plain pureed pumpkin, 1-2 teaspoon for a small dog or 1-2 tablespoons for a large dog. You can sprinkle a bit of ginger on it to further calm down their stomach. You could also offer them a gingersnap cookie. If everything is still going well you can start to offer a few pieces of kibble. DO NOT offer him a full meal.

You want to give his stomach and intestines ample time to heal, so returning to normal diet should be done slowly over the course of a couple of days. Just like switching food, your going to want to start at a 75/25 ratio, 75% of bland food with 25% normal food, moving up to 50/50 for the next meal, then to 25/75.

Other Bland Foods

  • Banana
  • Plain rice
  • Plain mashed potatoes
  • Boiled shredded chicken with fat skimmed off
  • Mackerel
  • Meat based baby food
  • Eggs
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Cottage cheese
  • Watermelon

I have seen ground beef fed as well; however, I find that it is too high in fat to feed as a bland food. If you have a highly lean ground beef feel free.

When to Call the Vet?

Stomachaches in dogs most of the time can be handled at home, but some can be indicative of a more serious issue.

Vomiting and diarrhea can be symptoms of more serious issues. The real question is how to tell when your dog is just sick or needs veterinary care.

  • Not able to hold down water.
  • Vomiting/diarrhea has lasted longer than 24 hours.
  • Vomiting up undigestible materials such as plastic or cloth.
  • Blood is present in vomit or diarrhea.
  • If your dog develops a fever.
  • Your dog is lethargic.

Everyone gets a stomachache from time to time, even dogs. Most of the time they are nothing serious and don’t need a trip to clinic. That doesn’t mean that your poor pup isn’t miserable. A poor pooch with a sick stomach requires a lot of love, and a bunch more paper towels!

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