What Do You Give a Dog with an Upset Stomach?

Dogs may have an upset stomach and start vomiting or having diarrhea for no reason. Maybe the dog got into the neighbor’s garbage cans or started a new dog food that doesn’t suit his stomach. The most common cause of stomach upset in dogs is gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines. The cause of this inflammation is not always obvious. However, as long as your adult dog is healthy and his symptoms are relatively mild, home remedies can calm his stomach. If symptoms worsen or there is no improvement after the first 24-48 hours, it’s time to call the vet for more serious interventions.

Simple Home Remedies For A Dog With An Upset Stomach

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Human or dog, stomach pain often manifests itself in several ways: vomiting and/or diarrhea. Both symptoms can be treated together or separately if only one occurs.

Home remedy for a vomiting dog

If the dog vomits more than once and seems unwell, do not give him food for 12 to 24 hours. Don’t withhold water because you don’t want the dog to become dehydrated. Watch for other symptoms of illness, such as lethargy or abdominal pain. If the dog has no other symptoms and is acting normally, slowly reintroduce their normal diet after the 12-24 hour waiting period.

It is important to note that sometimes dogs eat non-toxic grass, sticks or plants which cause them to vomit. In these cases, they usually vomit and return to their normal happiness almost immediately. These cases are usually not cause for concern. However, you will still want to keep an eye on the dog in case any other symptoms appear.

Home remedies for a dog with diarrhea

Diarrhea is a little different. Do not withhold food or water. Again, it is important for the dog to stay hydrated. However, many commercial dog foods are high in fat or contain other hard-to-digest ingredients. Rather than withholding food, switch to a soft, bland diet. An easy-to-digest mix of boiled white rice with boiled white meat chicken offers a simple option. A ratio of five parts rice to one part chicken works well. Make sure the chicken has no skin or bones.

Start with a small meal, and as long as the dog is handling it well, you can feed four to six a day. If the dog is doing well on the bland diet, start giving him fewer meals of increasing volume, then gradually return your dog to his usual diet once the stools have returned to their normal consistency. You can do this by mixing a small serving of regular dog food with a bland meal. Continue to increase the usual amount of food for about a week until the dog is back to his usual diet.

You can also help your dog by using over-the-counter diarrhea medications containing kaolin and pectin to soothe the intestinal tract and firm up the stool. You can also try probiotic supplements. These supplements help regulate and normalize the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the dog’s intestines.

If your dog becomes lethargic and weak, he could be suffering from dehydration. Lack of water can also decrease blood flow to the intestines, further slowing recovery. If vomiting or diarrhea occurs, it is important to keep the dog hydrated. However, it may be necessary to limit water intake to small portions given frequently, as large volumes of water can trigger more vomiting.

When is it time to call the vet?

Stomach pain for a dog

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Although home remedies can be effective, sometimes they are not enough and are not always appropriate depending on the dog’s age or health condition. For example, puppies are more susceptible to the effects of dehydration. Older dogs are also at higher risk for complications, as are dogs with chronic illnesses or serious health conditions. These dogs may have weakened immune systems or simply lack the physical reserves to maintain their health even with a mild case of vomiting or diarrhea. In all of these cases, call the vet for advice on the best course of action.

Regardless of the dog’s age, if he exhibits any of the following symptoms, or if the vomiting or diarrhea is significant or worsening, call your veterinarian:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Dry attack (try to vomit but nothing comes out)

The vet will take a thorough history and perform a physical exam. If the cause of stomach upset is not known, she may also order blood tests, fecal exams, X-rays, and urinalysis. Specialized laboratory tests, ultrasound or exploratory surgery may be necessary in some cases.

The goal is to identify and treat the cause of stomach pain. However, in the meantime, the vet may prescribe antiemetics, antidiarrheal medications, and provide fluid therapy to correct or prevent dehydration. If vomiting and diarrhea persist, the dog may also need intravenous feeding.


Symptoms associated with an upset stomach are certainly no fun, but sometimes the problem will resolve itself. Keep an eye on your dog and make sure he drinks. If symptoms worsen or do not improve after 24 to 48 hours, call the vet. Be prepared to list any other symptoms, the type of food the dog eats, and any medications you have given him. With the help of a veterinarian, your dog should soon be back on his feet.

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