Whether your puppy's upset tummy results in just a little belly rumbling or something more displeasing, his bellyache is no fun for either of you. Your puppy's mouthy behavior and still-developing immune system mean the youngster is apt to fall victim to more causes of upset stomach than a healthy, well-adjusted adult dog would. Some common causes for upset stomach aren't that serious; others require immediate attention.
Why is My Puppy's Stomach Upset?
Pica and Destructive Chewing
Pica -- the act of purposefully eating non-food items -- and destructive chewing can cause your pup to ingest dangerous objects, such as string, rubber, toys, mulch, rocks and twigs, causing internal damage, blockages and generally upset tummies. Blockages typically cause more symptoms than a bellyache, including dry-heaving, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, lethargy, inability to urinate or defecate, or pain while doing so, and blood in urine, fecal matter or vomit. Keep an eye on your young dog at all times, teach him the Drop It and Leave It commands, and place dangerous items he might chew and swallow out of reach. If he's an aggressive chewer, buy tough toys that don't fall apart easily. Offer your pup plenty of exercise to stymie his boredom. While pica might sound like a synonym for destructive chewing, the disorder is usually characterized by the intentional consumption of nonfood items -- eating the item is your puppy's main objective.
Chocolate, onions, sugary snacks, grapes and garlic are just a few types of food that cause canine belly aches and potentially even life-threatening symptoms. Medications that you inadvertently leave around can quickly end up in the mouth of a teething puppy and result in an overdose. Dangerous chemicals present in many household cleaners can cause problems. Research what foods are unacceptable for dogs to consume and keep medication and chemicals out of reach to avoid a toxin-induced upset stomach.
A puppy's immune system simply isn't as effective as a healthy adult dog's is at fighting off organisms that cause illnesses. That, veterinarian John Scandurra says, is why most puppies receive a series of vaccinations during their first 14 weeks of life. Although you should socialize your little guy prior to that age, keep away from situations where he can contract diseases, such as dog parks, parks in general and play dates with unhealthy or unvaccinated dogs. Illnesses can also originate from infections and, less commonly, general and breed-specific disorders. Typically, other symptoms will be present with an illness that's more than a mild upset stomach, such as dehydration, discharge, lethargy, confusion, diarrhea and drastic change in weight.
If your puppy eats his food too fast, a rumbling belly, gas and vomiting may result. The symptoms usually occur soon after your pal's meal. Giving him smaller portions throughout the day rather than one or two large portions usually remedies the problem. Food allergies can play a part, but they're not common, with veterinarian and author of "The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy & Active," Betsy Brevitz, noting that only 1 percent to 5 percent of dogs have food allergies.
Anytime your pup has an upset stomach that results in vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms, call your vet. If your vet suspects a stomach virus or something similarly minor, he may suggest a home remedy. If the symptoms sound more serious, he may ask you to bring your pup in for an evaluation. Do not give your puppy medication unless your vet directs it. If you notice dangerous or life-threatening symptoms, such as a drunken gait, inability to walk, a bloated abdomen or seizures, take your puppy to your vet or an animal hospital immediately. If your pup begins eating nonfood items compulsively, make an appointment with your vet.
By Chris Miksen
PetMD: Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs
WebMD: Top 10 Dog Poisons
St. Paul Dog Training Club: The Dilemma of Socialization and Immunity
Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Vomiting
The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy & Active; Betsy Brevitz
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Pica (Eating Things That Aren't Food)
About the Author
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.