Posted by Pet Honesty on

How to Help With Dog Indigestion

Table of Contents

We may not think about it very often because their diet never changes, but your dog is susceptible to gastric distress. If you have ever wondered, “Can dogs get indigestion?” the answer is yes. We tend to think of indigestion in humans as being the result of a greasy meal or too many sweets, and certainly nothing some Pepto-Bismol or an antacid can’t fix.  Unfortunately, dog indigestion isn’t as simple. For starters, dogs can’t even communicate when they are experiencing digestive issues. While giving your pup a daily dog digestive supplement may help to keep the GI tract running smoothly and efficiently, it may still be hard to recognize any symptoms.  Below you will find a helpful guide for recognizing and supporting your dog’s indigestion.

What is Indigestion?

Indigestion is any gastric distress brought on by the consumption of food.  Most commonly, indigestion includes symptoms that are related to acid reflux, heartburn, and nausea.  

According to PetMD, indigestion centers around a surplus of stomach acid, which is used by the body to break down food and begin the digestion process. If too much stomach acid is introduced too rapidly, then the gastric system becomes overwhelmed and attempts to alleviate the pressure.  

The body’s attempt to alleviate this pressure is most commonly seen in symptoms like regurgitation, gas pain, bloating, and canine diarrhea.   

What Are Some of the Signs of Indigestion in Dogs?

  • Weight Loss due to discomfort during and after eating
  • Regurgitation after meals
  • Mucus and bile in throw up
  • Choking 
  • Persistent choking and hacking while eating
  • Whimpering while eating
  • Lack of appetite or an unwillingness to eat
  • Lethargy
  • Slobber and excessive drooling 
  • Starting and stopping meals without finishing a full serving
  • Bad Breath

How Does Indigestion in Dogs Occur?

Indigestion is caused by a combination of dog digestive system problems, which as asserted by Animal Sense, are often linked to acid reflux.  A malfunctioning sphincter muscle which separates the base of the esophagus and top of the stomach expands and contracts intermittently allowing stomach fluid to flow up into the esophageal passage. 

Over time, the continued presence of stomach acid in the esophagus causes the tissue in the throat to become scarred and tender.  This tender throat tissue prompts your dog to eat faster, which in turn causes more indigestion and feeds the cycle of acid reflux leading to more complications, more distress, and further health risks.  

How to Support Dog Indigestion?

While you can’t give your dog a saucer of Pepto-Bismol or put a crushed up antacid tablet in their food, there are dog-approved antacids that your vet can prescribe. Occasionally a more severe, but solvable, health issue may be the underlying reason your dog is experiencing indigestion. With a proper diagnosis and wellness plan, your dog can be relieved of their uncomfortable symptoms. Seeking veterinary council is an essential step in finding a long-term solution for your dog’s indigestion. If you are noticing dog digestive system issues in your pup, seek help from a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

The good news is that indigestion is easily supportable in dogs, as it is often just the result of a dietary trigger. Dog owners should pay close attention to their dog’s diet as this is one of the most common reasons for canine indigestion.  The pH balance of a dog’s stomach is much different than a human’s, and as a result, you must avoid giving your dog fatty or spicy food.  Even if the food you give them seems like a tasty treat, it could be the reason your dog’s stomach is in gastric distress. 

Are There Preventative Measures I Can Take?

According to the Canine Journal, preventative measures are one of the best ways to deal with and support chronic indigestion in dogs.  A diet filled with low acidity increases the chance that the food your dog consumes is easily digestible.  The more efficiently your dog can digest food, the less stomach acid there will be in his gut, and the less likely he will experience indigestion.  

In addition to low acidity dog food, there are human foods that can help combat gastric distress. Items like blanched vegetables and lean protein such as boiled chicken and skinless baked sweet potatoes are suitable dietary substitutes for your dog.  Broccoli, pumpkin, and rice are also excellent home remedies for soothing an upset stomach in dogs. These home remedies are excellent foods for any time you have to support dog digestive issues within your pet. 

Meal frequency is a vital part of keeping indigestion in check.  Rather than allowing your dog to eat his full allotment of food in one sitting, try breaking up meal times over the course of the day.  Smaller quantities of food that need to be digested mean a lower amount of stomach acid, which ultimately leads to a lower risk of gastric distress caused by indigestion.  

Supporting indigestion in dogs is a little bit of a trial and error process.  The key to gastric distress support comes from recognizing the signs and symptoms of pain, working with your vet to develop a wellness plan, and then making small adjustments to their diet as needed.  Indigestion is a common problem in dogs, but with the right knowledge and a solid game plan, it is easily supported. 

Camille Arneberg and her dog

Camille is a co-founder of Pet Honesty and VP of Pup Parent Education. After watching her own family dog suffer from joint issues for years she became passionate about improving dogs' quality of life. With the help of a team of veterinarians and dog nutritionists she now helps educate other dog owners about the small but powerful things they can do to positively impact their dogs' health and wellness! She lives in Austin, TX and loves cuddling puppies, being outside and reading.