When we have an upset stomach, it’s easy to tell as we can be vocal about the discomfort and gain an insight into what the problem might be. However, dogs can’t talk so they don’t have it as easy.
Imagine how difficult it would be if you couldn’t communicate your pain to anyone; that’s why we should always be on the lookout for digestive discomfort in our dogs.
Here are five signs your dog has stomach problems and the best way to remedy them:
1. Vomiting or Diarrhoea
These symptoms can be the most alarming, especially if they’re reoccurring, but they aren’t always the most serious. Just like we might throw up after contracting food poisoning to get everything out of our system, dogs vomit to remove the indigestible or unwanted products from their stomachs. It’s your dog’s way of saying get out, you aren’t welcome!
Did you know? A dog’s stomach acid is nearly three times more potent than the average human’s stomach acid, so they can break down food that’s swallowed whole.
While it can be tricky to figure out the root cause of these symptoms, and this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s always an indicator your dog’s stomach maybe unsettled.
Common Causes of Diarrhoea/Vomiting in Dogs
Swallowing something they shouldn’t have
This is an obvious one, but vomiting or retching could be caused by an object that’s lodged in their stomach. A bored dog will chew up anything in sight, so if there are some household objects they can get to it’s likely they’ll try to eat them.
Plastic is the most common cause as dogs can’t digest it, so it will make them vomit or have diarrhoea as an indication something is wrong. Remember, if your dog is choking or the vomiting/diarrhoea is extreme, it’s a medical emergency and should be treated as such. i.e. take your dog to a vet straight away!
To prevent your dog swallowing anything they shouldn’t, try to make sure they’re getting enough time outside to keep them stimulated. Also, it makes sense to keep any potentially harmful objects out of reach if you can help it.
An abrupt change in diet
If you’ve ever changed diet, you’ll know it has an effect on your digestive system, and how your body functions. While the gradual effects can be beneficial, radical changes can be detrimental to start with.
If your dog is used to a particular diet and you change it suddenly this could have an adverse effect on their digestion. It might be that the new food you’re using is better for the dog, but it may just take some getting used to. Instead of merely eradicating the previous food, try to introduce a new one in stages and mix them to give your dog time to adjust. It might not be that your dog has stomach problems but just that he/she is getting used to something new.
Parasites such as hookworm, roundworm and whipworm
These are all examples of Intestinal Parasites. Put simply, they are worms which dogs can contract by ingesting faeces, contaminated soil or other animals who also have them (birds, mice etc.).
While they are treatable, they can often go unnoticed and can grow to adult size in your dog’s digestive system. It’s important to make sure your dogs are given appropriate preventative worming treatments at the vets, especially when they are puppies.
A poor diet or too much food
Although it may seem like your dog wants to eat everything you put in front of them, having too much food can be very harmful. Not only do they risk becoming overweight, but it can also harm their overall heart and digestive health.
Overfeeding can also result in canine bloat, which unlike bloating in humans can have a life-threatening impact on dogs. Always stick to the feeding guidelines that relate to your size and breed of dog, and resist the temptation to overfeed it.
Identifying allergies in dogs can be tricky to do at home. If your dog is vomiting or having problems with diarrhoea and you suspect they are allergic to something they are ingesting it’s wise to get to the vet as soon as possible. A common allergy in dogs is grains which is why Reet Good has made our food Grain Free.
While the allergy may not be vomit inducing an allergy to grain could show up in other ways such as weight gain or loss of energy. Making a slow and steady change to your dog’s diet by feeding it a high protein grain free food could be the solution to an allergy problem.
2. Abdominal Pain
Unlike with vomiting or diarrhoea, abdominal pain in dogs is trickier to spot. If your dog has stomach problems induced by abdominal pain you should look out for signs such as a lack of energy, loss of appetite or a swollen abdomen. If abdominal pain or swelling doesn’t go down on its own or there are signs your dog is getting very uncomfortable, you should take them to the vet.
3. Change in Appetite
If your dog is usually happily scoffing away at mealtimes and then suddenly doesn’t fancy a meal it’s worth considering whether there’s an underlying stomach problem. When dogs have an issue, whether that be an allergy or infection, it pays to inspect the contents of their food for things they may be allergic to. A dog with an upset stomach is not going to eat.
4. Weight Loss
This leads on from point three; you may not notice that your dog isn’t eating as much until their weight starts to drop. Make sure you keep an eye on your dog’s appearance as rapid weight loss is a sign they aren’t happy with something they are ingesting, or their food isn’t suitable.
A dog that is malnourished will have started to develop problems in areas other than it’s digestive system. The lack of nutrients will be harmful to its joints, and it’s energy levels.
This is one of the most common health problems in pets. It’s entirely treatable and not something to be too concerned about. It’s spotting it that can be troublesome.
Look out for these tell-tale signs your dog is constipated:
- Hard time passing stools
- Very dry or hard stools
- Blood or mucus in stools
Checking what your dog produces every time it goes to the toilet might not be high on your list of priorities. However, if you want to help them live a happy, healthy life, it’s essential to identify what’s normal and what isn’t.
How to Treat Stomach Problems at Home
We all have a natural instinct about our dog’s health and will often know when something isn’t right. The tricky part is figuring out if it’s something simple that will pass or something more serious that requires medical attention. If your dog has been displaying signs of an upset stomach, it’s worthwhile trying the next few steps before making a trip to your vet.
Avoid Excess Food
It’s best to avoid giving your dog food for at least 12 hours after they have been unwell. After 12 hours, start them with some water and then slowly wait to reintroduce their typical food. If the trouble is ongoing or frequent, it’s important to inspect what their regular food contains.
Some dry dog food can be bulked up with grains that block the digestive system and cause things like diarrhoea and vomiting to happen regularly.
Keep them hydrated
Even though it’s not advised to give them a big meal, keeping their water bowl topped up is a good idea. The last thing a sick dog needs is also to be dehydrated so make sure they have water there for when they need it.
If things progress and you do feel like the sickness and diarrhoea is something you can’t fix at home seek advice from your vet as soon as possible.
What to do After Recovery
After your dog has recovered from illness, it’s best to keep an eye on them to check for any signs of reappearance. If it turns out your dog has an allergy or has ingested something they shouldn’t have, follow the recommended steps and make small changes to their lifestyle.
Anything from going grain free to exercising more regularly can have a hugely beneficial impact on your dogs’ health!