Dogs love to explore using their noses and mouths, so it's practically inevitable that at some point or another, your pooch will end up with an upset stomach from eating something he’s not supposed to.
For an otherwise healthy dog, the occasional explained stomach ache isn’t too much of a concern. However, frequent tummy troubles could be a sign of something more serious, or that your dog simply has a sensitive stomach.
Stomach Ache Symptoms in Dogs
While your pup can’t use his words to tell you that he’s hurting, there are several symptoms that can tell you he’s not feeling his best.
Signs that your dog has an upset stomach include:
- Loose stools
- Appetite loss
- Burping or passing gas
- Stomach rumbling
- Stiff, hunched posture
Many pet owners believe that eating grass is also a symptom of an upset stomach, as many dogs vomit shortly after the fact. However, this may be another common dog misconception. It’s unclear whether dogs eat grass to soothe an existing upset stomach, or whether the vomiting is a result of eating grass. If your grass is full of toxic chemicals, then grass grazing certainly isn’t recommended!
Upset Stomach vs. Sensitive Stomach
Any dog can experience an upset stomach, especially if they eat something they’re not supposed to. If your pup’s tummy troubles aren’t a frequent occurrence, then he’s likely experiencing a standard stomach ache.
However, if your dog experiences mild to severe stomach aches once per month or more, he may have a sensitive stomach. Dogs with sensitive stomachs may get sick at the slightest dietary changes. They also tend to have loose stools and frequent flatulence on a somewhat regular basis.
Before giving a sensitive stomach diagnosis, talk to your vet to rule out any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to your dog’s stomach issues.
Minimizing Tummy Troubles
Regardless of the state of your dog’s stomach, it’s good practice to take the following steps in order to ensure a happy, healthy pooch:
Dog-proof your house by closing all trash can lids and cabinet doors. Keep cosmetics and cleaning supplies out of reach, and small, ingestible objects such as coins and bobby pins cleaned up off the floor.
Be aware of any toxic plants and chemicals in the yard. Whether it means removing the plants and switching the chemicals, or keeping your dog away from designated areas, you’ll want to be sure to protect your pup from anything poisonous.
Slowing down can help to prevent an upset stomach and bloating. If your dog eats too fast during meal times, help him slow down with a puzzle feeder. If your pooch scarfs down his food because he’s worried someone else will eat it first, make sure his bowl is in a safe, secure spot in the house where he can confidently take his time.
Smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can also help to tame your dog’s tummy troubles—especially if he tends to get overly excited and binge.
Be mindful of the food that you share with your dog. As generous as you may want to be, don’t just toss any leftovers to your furry friend, as some ingredients may cause an upset stomach.
Look for high-quality dog food. Check the label for named protein sources such as chicken, beef, or fish, and check whether the food claims to be “complete and balanced.”
Add a nutritional supplement to your dog’s diet. Pet Honesty’s Digestive Probiotics Chews promote the growth of good bacteria, along with healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, and are safe for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Unfortunately, supplements and good eating habits can’t fix sensitive stomachs that are caused by food sensitivities, intolerances, or allergies.
In order to determine the culprit of your dog’s stomach issues, you may need to implement an elimination diet. Consult with your vet to choose clean, simple foods to feed to your dog; typically this consists of one protein and one carbohydrate, such as bland chicken and rice.
Remove any additional food from your dog’s diet during this time, including treats, table scraps, and potentially even chew toys. Give your dog the agreed-upon basic diet, and if there are no stomach issues, gradually add more ingredients to his diet. As more foods are added one by one, you should be able to determine the cause of your dog’s stomach issues based on when his symptoms start back up.
An elimination diet is strictly for the purpose of identifying the problem ingredients, and should not be used as a long-term solution. Your four-legged friend needs a well-rounded diet with sufficient fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
In addition to taking steps to support your dog’s health, talk to your vet about any health concerns. Along with ruling out health conditions, the vet will also be able to help you find the right diet for your dog, whether it consists of commercial dog food or a homemade raw diet.