Dogs can get an upset stomach just like humans. The most common symptoms of an upset stomach in dogs are vomiting, diarrhea, and disinterest in eating food or drinking water. Dogs can develop an upset stomach as a result of a bacterial or viral infection or from the foods they eat. If your dog develops bloody diarrhea or becomes lethargic, seems dehydrated, or has episodes of vomiting or diarrhea for more than 48 hours, call your veterinarian.
Determining the cause of a dog's indigestion
Sometimes, dogs become ill from something they ate, whether food or nonfood. Some foods are known to cause stomach upset in dogs and can even be toxic to them. Examples include chocolate; grapes and raisins; onions; garlic; many types of mushrooms; green potatoes; green tomatoes and their leaves and stems; rhubarb leaves; avocados and their leaves, seeds, and bark; and walnuts and macadamia nuts. Never feed dogs raw salmon or large amounts of liver. Avoid the pits of fruits, apple seeds, and anything with caffeine or the sweetener xylitol.
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While you probably wouldn't feed your dog vegetable leaves, for example, consider whether they could have eaten something toxic while foraging in someone's garden or trash or if they perhaps spilled and consumed someone's coffee.
Feeding a dog with an upset stomach
Experts used to advise not feeding a dog with an upset stomach or diarrhea, but the advice on this has changed. Dogs still need nourishment even when they are sick, so offer a small amount of bland food and see if the dog will eat. Of course, a dog that is vomiting will not eat until the vomiting has stopped. Afterward, though, dogs can be very hungry. If the dog cannot keep food down, however, contact your veterinarian.
Bland food can include thoroughly cooked, skinless, and boneless lean meat, such as chicken; plain white rice; tofu; or plain, low-fat yogurt. Whatever you choose to offer your dog, be sure it does not contain seasoning of any kind. Start with just one tablespoon of food to see if the dog is ready to eat. Don't force or urge dogs to eat; let them listen to their body and decide when they are ready. If you are concerned that the dog is not eating, contact your veterinarian.
Keeping sick dogs from becoming dehydrated
Dogs can become dehydrated very quickly when they lose fluids through vomiting and/or diarrhea, so be sure to place a bowl of fresh, cool water near the dog at all times and point it out. Even if the dog doesn't drink it, replace it during the day if it has bits of food, dirt, bugs, or other debris in it. Seeing you refilling the bowl or replenishing it may entice the dog to drink it. Signs of dehydration include sunken, dry-looking eyes; a dry nose, lethargy, loss of energy, and panting.
Offering a dog pumpkin for digestive woes
For many dogs, pumpkin is like a miracle food, as it seems to improve both diarrhea and constipation. The fiber in pumpkin absorbs excess water in the stool if diarrhea is the problem and also acts as a stool softener to ease constipation. Pumpkin also contains many nutrients, like zinc, iron, and beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A.
Offer about 1 teaspoon of pureed pumpkin or mix it with other bland food. Go sparingly, though, because too much vitamin A can be toxic. You can cook and puree a fresh pumpkin on your own or use canned pumpkin puree; just be sure it does not contain the seasonings for pie, as the cans often look nearly identical.
What can you give dogs for indigestion?
Most veterinarians agree that it is safe to give dogs a small dose of Imodium that is made for humans to control diarrhea. It is available over the counter. Imodium contains loperamide and simethicone, both of which are believed to be safe for dogs. How much to give generally depends on the dog's weight and age. Call your veterinarian for advice on giving the medication to your particular dog, including how much to give and how often.
Considering holistic or homeopathic solutions
Some veterinarians recommend ajwain for dogs with indigestion. Ajwain is a spice that contains thymol, which has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties that help fight bacteria, like salmonella and E. coli. Your veterinarian may also recommend making a rehydration solution using water and one or two common household ingredients. It's better to take expert veterinarian advice than to rely on anecdotal recipes found online or suggested by friends.