There are a number of reasons a dog's stomach might be upset. Since they're unable to tell us that their stomach hurts or if they've ingested something that didn't sit right with them, it's up to the humans to figure out what to do. The good news is that there are some home remedies to help treat your dog's diarrhea and help their digestive system heal.
Why your dog might have an upset stomach
Just like humans, there are plenty of reasons a dog might have an upset stomach, ranging from minor inconveniences to conditions that require a visit to the veterinarian. A dog's stomach can hurt simply because they ate too much or ate something that didn't agree with them. This is a common occurrence if a dog's diet changes too quickly when switching them from one food to another. It could also be a sign of stress or allergies.
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Dogs can pick up parasites that impact their digestive system, especially if they're young or have a weak immune system. These parasites can include giardia, coccidia, whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Illnesses can be another culprit of changing bowel movements for your dog, including parvovirus, distemper, inflammatory bowel disease, and bacterial infections. Additionally, your dog may have diarrhea if they've ingested a foreign body, such as one of their toys or a pair of your socks.
If you start to notice that your dog's gastrointestinal system seems to be acting up, keep a close eye on their symptoms and their progress. If you suspect that your dog has come into contact with something poisonous or has swallowed a foreign body, you should reach out to their veterinarian immediately. If a mild case of diarrhea persists beyond 36 to 48 hours, you should also let the veterinarian know so they can run bloodwork, a fecal test, and other tests if necessary.
Treating your dog’s diarrhea
When your dog has stomach upset, they might have a loss of appetite as well. Even if they don't, it's important that you make dietary changes for them that will give their digestive tract a much-needed break. Your dog's veterinarian will likely recommend a bland diet for your dog, which often includes bland food, such as white rice, skinless and boiled chicken breast, and maybe even ground beef. Veterinarians can also prescribe dog food that is designed to help dogs with digestive issues until your dog is ready to transition back to their normal diet.
It's important to keep in mind that although brown rice can be a healthy addition to a dog's diet, it is not recommended for dogs who have diarrhea. White rice is recommended because it is low in fiber and easier on a dog's intestinal tract. Your dog's veterinarian may also suggest probiotics that are designed for dogs to help ease any abdominal pain.
What if your dog has food allergies?
In some cases, your dog's veterinarian may recommend taking steps to determine if your dog's stool inconsistencies are due to food allergies. Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy way to find out if your dog is allergic to their regular food. Veterinarians recommend elimination diet trials for dogs who are suspected to have a food allergy. The elimination diet trial lasts at least three to four weeks for dogs with digestive issues and may be as long as 12 weeks if your dog also has skin issues.
With a diet trial, your dog's veterinarian will prescribe either a novel ingredient diet or a hydrolyzed diet. When using these diets, it's crucial that you do not give your dog anything other than food or treats that are approved by your dog's veterinarian. This means that your dog cannot ingest any supplements, chews, treats, or anything else unless it has been approved. Your dog's veterinarian can help you select preventatives, treats, and supplements that will fit into your dog's new regular diet.
The bottom line
There are several things that could be causing your dog to have diarrhea, and it's always a good idea to be vigilant. If you're ever unsure of what to do, you should call your dog's veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian clinic if your regular veterinarian's office is closed. The veterinarian can tell you how you should proceed based on your dog's symptoms and other factors of your dog's health. In many cases of minor stomach upset, your dog's veterinarian will probably recommend sticking to a bland diet of white rice and boneless, skinless chicken until your dog's digestive system has calmed down.