Both of my dogs have sensitive stomachs, and I’ve spent a fortune on vet bills treating semi-frequent bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting. Most of the time it turned out to be nothing serious, and I was sent home with antibiotics and feeding instructions. Don’t get me wrong – my vet is wonderful and I have had my share of emergencies but I’ve learned that, at least in my case, I don’t have to rush my pets to medical attention every time they get a little tummy trouble. And it happens often enough that I have the routine perfected to get them back on track.
Occasional upset stomach can be totally normal for dogs, just like it is for us.
Stress, allergies, weather, and eating something that doesn’t quite agree with us can all cause an episode. Please remember though, by no means should my advice be taken as a replacement for veterinary care. These remedies are intended for dogs with mild symptoms of upset stomach that are NOT also displaying any of the following symptoms:
- Dehydration (dry/tacky/pale gums, low skin elasticity)
- Painful, distended, or hard belly
- Retching, trying to vomit, or difficulty defecating
- Appearance of blood in vomit, urine, or feces
- Suspected ingestion of chemicals, poisons, medications, toxic foods, or an object
These could indicate a medical emergency, so call your vet right away.
If your dog simply gets sick every once in a while and you don’t suspect an emergency, try the following:
- Fast your dog for 12 to 24 hours. Many people feel bad doing this (I did too at first!) but your dog needs to empty his stomach. Feeding during a bout of diarrhea or vomiting can prolong their discomfort. I promise, an otherwise healthy dog can go a day without eating – she can’t hold a grudge for too long!
- Always make sure fresh water is available at all times!
- After fasting, feed a bland diet. Our go-to is 1 part boiled, skinless, boneless chicken breast to 2 parts boiled rice (brown or white). Do not use any oil, salt, seasoning, or any other additives. Feed your dog very small portions 3-4 times a day for the next 5 days or so, gradually increasing the amount to their normal daily portion.
- Continue feeding the bland diet until your dog returns to normal, then add on a couple days. Gradually incorporate your dog’s normal food. Start with ¼ normal food with ¾ chicken and rice, then ½ and ½ and so on, until you’re feeding as usual again.
- Add a tablespoon of plain, unsweetened yogurt to the food. This helps soothe the stomach, replace healthy bacteria in the gut, and it can even stimulate appetite.
- Keeping your dog on a daily probiotic like yogurt or FortiFlora can help minimize digestive episodes.
- Pumpkin, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and bananas can also be added to help settle the stomach.
- Yes, you can use over-the-counter medicines for your dog! Imodium (dose: 1mg per 20lb every 8 hours) can be very effective. Do not give Imodium to breeds related to Collies, as they may have an adverse reaction. I use Pepto-Bismol regular strength tablets (1/4 tablet per 20lb every 6-8 hours), especially if my dog seems nauseous (drooling, licking the floor). These medications should be used no longer than 1-2 days.
- Give your dog plenty of potty breaks. He may be less able to hold it during the first 12 hours.
If your dog’s condition worsens or doesn’t improve, or if she develops any of the serious symptoms previously mentioned, contact your regular or emergency vet.
Do you have any home remedies for your dog’s upset stomach? Share here.