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Upset Stomach in Dogs

What Is Upset Stomach in Dogs?

Upset stomachs in dogs stem from various conditions, ranging from mild to severe. Just like in humans, these stomach issues in dogs arise from abnormalities within their gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which encompasses organs like the esophagus, stomach, intestines, and more.

Determining whether a dog’s upset stomach necessitates a trip to the vet or can be managed at home isn’t always straightforward. Gastroenteritis, characterized by inflammation or irritation in the stomach or intestines, is a common culprit. Typically, symptoms of an upset stomach are short-lived, lasting a day or two. However, if they persist beyond this timeframe, it could signify a more serious underlying issue requiring veterinary attention.

Certain causes of upset stomachs in dogs, such as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis evidenced by blood in vomit or stool, demand immediate medical intervention. Failure to address such conditions promptly could have fatal consequences. Hence, it’s crucial to seek veterinary guidance whenever a dog exhibits signs of discomfort or illness.


The typical signs of an upset stomach in dogs include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Teeth chattering
  • Lip smacking or constant licking
  • Vomiting
  • Gagging or retching
  • Loud stomach noises
  • Belching or flatulence
  • Diarrhea or loose stool
  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Struggling to defecate (tenesmus)
  • Reduced or complete loss of appetite
  • Signs of abdominal discomfort, such as vocalizing when picked up or stretching with front legs down and hind legs up
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Restlessness
  • Shivering or trembling
  • Weight loss


The causes of a dog’s upset stomach can vary widely, ranging from dietary changes to underlying health conditions.

While upset stomachs can affect dogs of any age, puppies and senior dogs are particularly vulnerable due to their weaker immune systems.

Common triggers for upset stomachs in dogs include:

  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Parasitic infestations
  • Medications
  • Introducing new foods or treats
  • Eating too quickly
  • Consumption of table scraps or human food
  • Sudden changes in diet
  • Ingesting foreign objects
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Liver or kidney issues
  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Food allergies
  • Cancer
  • Heatstroke
  • Stress


When addressing your dog’s upset stomach, your veterinarian will begin by conducting a thorough physical examination and gathering a comprehensive medical history.

It’s crucial to provide your vet with accurate information regarding any recent changes in your dog’s diet, including new foods, treats, or table scraps. Additionally, disclose any potential exposure to toxins, such as medications, household cleaners, plants, or chemicals.

Upon visiting the vet, it’s helpful to bring along a fresh stool sample for parasite testing. If you suspect your dog ingested a toxic substance, bring the packaging for evaluation.

Your vet may proceed with diagnostic testing to identify the underlying cause of your dog’s symptoms. This often involves bloodwork, including a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel.

Furthermore, fecal screening for abnormal bacteria and urine analysis are typically conducted. An abdominal X-ray or ultrasound may also be recommended to assess the condition of your dog’s internal organs, particularly the digestive system.

Based on the initial test results, further specific blood or fecal tests may be advised to investigate potential conditions like parvovirus, pancreatitis, or salmonellosis.

In cases where the initial tests yield inconclusive results and symptoms persist, more advanced diagnostic procedures such as endoscopy, exploratory surgery, or biopsy of the gastrointestinal tract may be considered.


Treating your dog’s upset stomach depends on its duration and underlying cause.

For cases lasting less than 48 hours, where your dog is still eating, drinking, and shows no signs of lethargy or blood in feces or vomit, you can attempt home management.

Offer small portions of a bland diet like boiled white-meat chicken and white rice without salt, fat, or seasonings. To address diarrhea, consider adding fiber with canned 100% pumpkin puree or a fiber powder, and probiotics may aid in relieving stomach upset.

However, if symptoms persist beyond 48 hours or if additional symptoms emerge, veterinary intervention is necessary.

Treatment options range from oral medications to hospitalization with intensive care. Common interventions include:

  • Intravenous fluids to address dehydration
  • Antibiotics for diarrhea or bacterial infections
  • Anti-nausea medication like Cerenia®
  • Antacids such as omeprazole or famotidine
  • Probiotics and fiber supplements
  • Pain relief medication, administered orally or via injection depending on symptoms
  • Plasma or blood transfusions
  • Steroids like prednisone
  • Deworming or antiparasitic medications

In severe cases, fasting may be advised to rest the digestive system, or a feeding tube may be necessary to ensure adequate nutrition. Special diets, such as low-fat or hydrolyzed protein options, might be recommended for long-term management if effective.

Surgical removal is typically required if a foreign object obstructs the stomach or intestines. In cases of toxin ingestion, your vet may induce vomiting or administer activated charcoal to mitigate harm.

Recovery and Management

The duration of your dog’s recovery from an upset stomach can vary from a few days to several weeks, contingent upon the underlying cause.

Conditions like inflammatory bowel disease may necessitate ongoing management, involving oral medications, probiotics, fiber supplementation, and a specialized diet for long-term care.

During your dog’s recovery period, prioritize ample rest and affection. Maintain a balanced routine of walks to prevent accidents indoors while avoiding excessive fatigue. Limit interactions with other dogs and moderate activities with household companions. If your dog tends to eat too quickly, consider using a slow feeder bowl to regulate their pace.


To ward off upset stomachs in dogs, stick to feeding them the appropriate amount of their regular dog food and avoid offering table scraps, particularly those high in fat or toxic ingredients. When altering your dog’s diet, seek guidance from your veterinarian and implement a gradual transition over 7 to 10 days.

If your dog frequents places like dog parks or daycare, make it a practice to wipe down their paws before they can lick them, reducing the risk of ingesting any potentially harmful microbes.

Upset Stomach in Dogs FAQs

How do dogs lie down when their stomach hurts?

Dogs experiencing stomach discomfort often exhibit restlessness and may not remain lying down for extended periods. Additionally, they may demonstrate signs of abdominal discomfort, such as stretching excessively with their front legs on the floor while keeping their hind legs upright.

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