Dogs are beloved family members, and we do so much to keep them happy and healthy. So when your fur baby has a sick tummy, it can be especially distressing. Just like humans, dogs can get an upset stomach, whether it’s from eating too much or too quickly or getting into something they shouldn’t have. And you want to help them feel better fast. That’s why we asked vets what to feed a dog with an upset stomach to help them heal. Keep reading to see what foods they recommend, as well as the signs it’s time to take your pup to the vet.
How to tell your dog has an upset stomach
Dogs can be pretty stoic and resilient when it comes to pain and discomfort, and they can only communicate with body language. This can make it difficult to tell whether your dog is feeling sick. There are some behaviors you can look for, however.
“Aside from vomiting and having diarrhea, signs that your dog might have an upset stomach include lethargy, decreased appetite and excessive drooling,” says Dr. Sabrina Kong, DVM and veterinary contributor at We Love Doodles.
Wait 6 hours before you feed your dog who has vomited
If your dog has been vomiting, wait for at least 6 hours to feed him again, and then offer him a bland meal. Fido’s stomach is tender after throwing up, so it’s important to handle his diet with care to avoid aggravating his system further. Also, make sure you consult your veterinarian before you make major changes to your dog’s diet since changes can result in upset.
What to feed a dog with an upset stomach
When people feel queasy, we tend to reach for bland foods like crackers or toast and tummy-soothing drinks like ginger tea. Dogs also benefit from bland foods when they don’t feel good — but there are options that are better than others for them. Here are vet-approved foods that could help settle your dog’s stomach if they’re experiencing minor upset.
1. Shredded, boiled chicken and white rice
Shredded chicken and white rice is an especially easy option because your dog probably already loves chicken and it will stimulate his appetite. “A mix of boiled, unadulterated chicken (excluding the skin) and plaint white rice can offer a gentle remedy,” says says Mollie Newton, DVM and founder of PetMe Twice. “It ensures your dog receives essential nutrients without additional stomach aggravation.” It’s filled with protein, vitamins and fats and will be easy for your dog to digest.
White rice is lower in nutritional value than brown, but it’s much blander and easier to digest so it’s better for upset stomachs. It’s also cheap, quick to prepare and a pantry staple — meaning you might have it on hand already. Just remember that while a sprinkle of salt and pepper would make this dish more palatable for you, you shouldn’t season it with anything before giving it to your dog for an upset stomach. Keeping the food bland will make it easier on their stomach.
Plain puréed pumpkin is a stomach-soothing superstar for dogs. It’s great to feed your dog after they’ve vomited, but it’s especially helpful if they’re having irregular or unhealthy bowel movements.
“Pure canned pumpkin (ensure it’s not the dessert variety) is a wise choice,” says Dr. Newton. “It has substantial fiber content, which aids in stabilizing your dog’s digestive movements.” It’s also full of water and vitamins that can help ease diarrhea and constipation.
Just be sure to only feed your pup the flesh of the pumpkin, and not the rind or seeds. And keep in mind that pumpkin pie filling can look similar to pure, canned pumpkin but may contain sweeteners that are toxic to your dog like xylitol. Ensure that pumpkin is the only listed ingredient before feeding it to your dog.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends adding between one and four tablespoons of pumpkin per meal to your dog’s diet while they’re suffering from an upset stomach.
Foods your dog should avoid on an upset stomach
You may be tempted to give your sick pup some treats and table scraps to cheer her up while she isn’t feeling well. But certain foods can aggravate her already-sensitive system and make her feel worse or extend her sickness. “It’s crucial to avoid feeding your dog any spicy foods, dairy products or anything rich or fatty, as these can exacerbate the issue,” says Dr. Kong.
When to take your dog to the vet
If your dog vomits or has diarrhea, it’s seldom an emergency. “Occasional digestive distress in dogs is not uncommon,” says Dr. Newton. “It could be attributed to various factors, such as eating something they shouldn’t have or stress.”
Observe your dog’s behavior. “If your dog’s symptoms are mild and she’s still in good spirits, try the bland diet apprach for a day or two,” counsels Dr. Kong. “However, if the symptoms persist, worsen or your dog appears in pain, it’s time to see a vet.”
Keep in mind that if your dog is trying to vomit but can’t (a sign of life-threatening bloat); is projectile vomiting; is vomiting frequently; has bile or unusual material in their vomit; can’t keep water down; or is showing signs of bloating, discomfort or depression, you should call your vet immediately. Other causes for concern are a combination of severe bloating, stomach pain and diarrhea, or decreased urination. And if your dog has eaten raisins, chocolate, garlic, onions or macadamia nuts, call the vet immediately, as these foods are highly toxic for them. (Click through for more on what foods dogs can eat.)
If in doubt, always call your veterinarian. You can also use resources like JustAnswer.com, which instantly connects you to certified vets online via chat, and websites like EmergencyVet247.com, which lists emergency veterinarian clinics in every state and many cities. Not every upset stomach is an emergency, but it can be a symptom of a larger problem, so always err on the side of caution when it comes to your dog’s health.
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