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Why does my dog have an upset stomach? Common causes and symptoms

Why does my dog have an upset stomach? Common causes and symptoms

Why does my dog have an upset stomach? Common causes and symptoms

Our furry companions are not immune to the occasional upset stomach, and as responsible pet owners, it's important to recognize the signs and understand the underlying causes. From dietary indiscretions to more serious health issues, a range of factors can lead to your dog experiencing digestive discomfort. Let's delve into the common causes, signs, and treatment options for an upset stomach in dogs.

Common Causes of Upset Stomach in Dogs

Consuming Foreign Objects or Other Foods:

  • Dogs have a knack for getting into things they shouldn't. Whether it's scavenging through the garbage or swallowing small objects like socks or toys, ingesting foreign substances can upset their stomachs (and may require a trip to the vet).

Food Allergies or Sensitivities:

  • Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies or sensitivities to certain foods. Common culprits include chicken, beef, and dairy products, which can trigger digestive issues.


  • Bacterial infections such as Salmonella or E. coli, viral infections like parvovirus, and parasitic infestations such as roundworm or tapeworm can wreak havoc on your dog's gastrointestinal tract, leading to symptoms of an upset stomach. Infections should addressed and treated quickly by your vet.

Stress or Anxiety:

  • Dogs can be sensitive creatures, and environmental stressors can take a toll on their digestive health. Changes in routine, loud noises, or separation anxiety can all contribute to stomach upset.

Underlying Diseases:

  • In some cases, an upset stomach may be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Chronic conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, or pancreatic, liver, and kidney diseases may manifest with gastrointestinal symptoms.

Quickly Switching to a New Food:

  • Switching quickly from one dog food to another, especially with a completely new ingredient list, can upset your dog's stomach. Slowly transition (mix both foods) over a period of 4-10 days to skip upset tummies.


Signs of an Upset Stomach

Vomiting: Look out for episodes of vomiting, especially if they occur frequently. Dry heaving or gagging may also accompany vomiting. Occasional vomiting may not be cause for alarm, however if frequent vomiting occurs, a call to your vet may be required.

Diarrhea: Bouts of diarrhea throughout the day indicate digestive distress. If it persists for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by blood, then it's time to talk to your vet.

Abdominal Pain: Your dog may show signs of discomfort when their abdomen is touched or exhibit general abdominal tenderness.

Lethargy: Reduced activity levels or apparent tiredness can be indicative of an underlying health issue, including stomach upset.

Decreased Appetite: If your dog is uninterested in food or refuses to eat, it may signal discomfort or pain in the gastrointestinal tract.


Treatment of an Upset Stomach

Treatment for an upset stomach in dogs varies depending on the severity of the condition. In mild cases of diarrhea, fasting for up to 24 hours may be recommended or feeding small quantities of easily digestible food. Your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-diarrheal medications, anti-emetics to control vomiting, de-wormers if parasites are suspected, and probiotics to restore gut health.

Preventing an Upset Stomach

Maintaining your dog’s digestive health is a good way to prevent vomiting, diarrhea and other signs of an upset stomach. Make sure your dog is drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day to help with smooth digestion and absorption of nutrients. The general rule is to drink 1 ounce of fluid per pound of body weight, but total daily water intake will vary depending on environment, activity and food composition. A very active dog, a dog living in a hot climate, a lactating dog or puppy will often drink more water. A dog who eats wet food may also drink less water than a dog who eats kibble.  You can always add water or broth to your dog’s meal to add some extra hydration to dry dog food. 

A highly digestible diet is always a good option to ensure your dog’s meal will be easy on their digestive tract. At HOPE, we use highly digestible ingredients to ensure your pup receives a nutrient packed meal

Finally, always make sure to monitor your dog, especially if they are prone to eating things they shouldn't. 

Being attuned to your dog's digestive health is crucial for their overall well-being. By understanding the common causes and recognizing the signs of an upset stomach, you can take prompt action to alleviate their discomfort and ensure they receive the necessary veterinary care when needed. Remember, a happy tummy leads to a happy, healthy pup!

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