What To Feed a Dog With an Upset Stomach: How to Ease Your Dog’s Digestive Discomfort
Like humans, dogs can experience occasional stomach issues. Whether it be because of a food allergy or simple digestive issues, occasional belly aches or even bouts of vomiting and diarrhea aren’t unusual for dogs. Of course, if you have a dog with an upset stomach 24/7, there is clearly a chronic underlying issue that needs to be addressed by a vet.
But, if your dog is sick they still need to eat, right? So what can you give a dog for upset stomach? Can they eat their regular diet?
Here, we’re going to discuss what to give a dog for upset stomach and vomiting when the situation isn’t serious, and your pup is just feeling a little under the weather. For a dog, upset stomach sensations can be pretty uncomfortable, so you’ll probably notice right away that your pooch is acting “off.” Once you’ve determined that your dog’s upset because of a belly ache, you can use home remedies to settle their stomach until the discomfort passes.
Alongside learning what to give a dog for upset stomach, we’ll also discuss what to do if your dog’s symptoms worsen and when to bring them to the vet.
How To Diagnose Upset Stomach In Dogs
So, how do you determine that your dog has upset stomach if you can’t talk to them? Here are a few signs and symptoms to look for:
- Excessive lip licking
- Hard swallowing or gulping
- Loss of appetite
Behaviors like licking the air and excessive lip/chop licking are also signs of nausea, which could be contributing to your dog’s loss of appetite.
How To Settle A Dog’s Stomach—Home Remedies for Nausea
Because most dogs lose some amount of appetite when they have a stomach ache, you may need to start with a remedy for their nausea before you can prepare food for dog with upset stomach. Often the sensation that they are going to throw up will make them feel even less interested in food, even if it will eventually help to settle their stomach.
So what helps a dog’s upset stomach when they are feeling nauseous? Here’s how to settle dog’s stomach if they’re too nauseous to eat a simple meal.
1. Ice Cubes
A dog with upset stomach is likely to become dehydrated either from diarrhea and vomiting or by not eating or drinking enough due to nausea. Dehydration can make their nausea worse and put them at dangerous risk of electrolyte imbalance. To keep your dog hydrated and to help soothe their upset stomach, try giving them 1-2 ice chips every few hours.
Ginger is a well-known natural remedy for nausea, and while the clinical studies on the efficacy of ginger for dogs are somewhat lacking, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support using this therapeutic root for nausea.
A small amount of ginger is all your pup needs to help soothe their nausea. You can give this to them by boiling a sliver of ginger in water, then giving your dog the cooled water. You can also sprinkle small amounts of ground ginger over foods like kefir or sweet potato.
Kefir is one of our favorite things to give nauseous or sick dogs since it can simultaneously soothe their discomfort and replenish their healthy gut bacteria with dozens of probiotics. Replenishing your dog’s gut with probiotics can also help support healthy immune system function.
Kefir is made from cow’s milk but undergoes a process of fermentation that reduces the concentration of lactose—this makes kefir easily digestible while other dairy products could further inflame the issue.
What To Feed a Dog With An Upset Stomach
Ready to learn what to feed a sick dog? If your dog is able and willing to eat, there are a few simple, bland foods you can feed your dog. With your dog’s belly upset, it’s important to avoid giving them anything that’s difficult to digest or could irritate their stomachs. Dairy, oil, wheat, or even their regular dog food could trigger more stomach issues.
Enough rambling! Let’s answer your question: what can I give my dog for an upset stomach?
1. Chicken and Rice
Chicken and rice is the old standby for easing a dog’s belly upset. Bland is the name of the game, and white rice is easy to digest and less nutritionally dense than brown rice or other grains—meaning it won’t make your dog’s digestive system work too hard.
Chicken has lots of protein and vital nutrients for your dog, but cooking it simply by boiling/poaching it can make it bland and gentle enough for a dog that feels sick. If your dog has a chicken allergy, you can easily replace the protein with something like whitefish, which is similarly bland.
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2. Pumpkin or Sweet Potato
When you’re choosing what to give a dog with an upset stomach, consider whether they might need digestive help. Pumpkin and sweet potato are both bland carbohydrates, but more importantly they contain dietary fiber that can—for lack of a better term—get your dog’s bowels moving. The best way to prepare sweet potatoes for dogs with tummy trouble is to peel, boil, and mash.
3. Unseasoned Protein—Chicken, Turkey, Fish, etc.
If your dog is unwilling to eat something like rice or pumpkin, even when mixed with meat, you can try feeding them a poached protein. Chicken is ideal, but if your dog has a chicken allergy you can also feed them shredded, unseasoned whitefish, turkey, or even beef or lamb if they are lean. Be sure to choose lean cuts and avoid fatty meats.
4. Bone Broth
If your dog isn’t drinking because they have an upset stomach, try giving them chilled, unseasoned bone broth. Tasty and savory—perfect for a dog’s palette—bone broth can also be added to your dog’s food to help them avoid dehydration.
You can make your own bone broth by slowly simmering bones and joints—like chicken legs, beef bones, etc.—or buy pre-made bone broth for dogs that contains zero salt or added seasoning. Remember that the food you give your dog needs to be bland, so broths made for humans won’t work well for a dog with an upset stomach. “Human food” broths contain lots of salt, which will just upset your dog’s stomach even more.
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When To Call Your Vet
Now that you know how to feed a sick dog, it’s time to chat about how to help a dog’s upset stomach if the issue isn’t a simple tummy ache. It’s also a good idea to call your vet, even if your dog isn’t showing these serious symptoms, if they haven’t eaten in 24 hours. There could be underlying health conditions like bacterial infections or intestinal blockages affecting your dog’s appetite that won’t be solved by home remedies.
If you notice these symptoms in your dog, upset stomach remedy won’t do the trick and it’s time to call your vet.
- Severe vomiting—multiple bouts of vomiting, inability to keep any food or liquid down, vomiting stomach acid.
- Excessive diarrhea or blood in the stool—diarrhea that is not solved by feeding bland foods, or stool that shows signs of blood.
- Fever—common symptoms of fever in dogs include red or glassy eyes, panting or shortness of breath, abnormally warm nose and/or ears, shivering, lethargy, and loss of appetite.
- Not eating for 24 hours—an upset stomach typically resolves itself within a day. If your dog is still refusing to eat after a day, call your vet.
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