When a puppy get’s an upset stomach, it’s really stressful.
Partially because our puppers can’t talk, can they? And that’s a real pain, because whilst we can infer they have a stomach ache, we can’t narrow things down to understand what’s making them feel sick. One thing all pet parents understand is that your dog’s upset stomach is a sign that something is wrong.
Then it’s just a case of figuring out how worried you need to be. But let me say, real quick. Puppies do get sick, and not all of them are a vet trip. So let’s run through when to be concerned, and what you can give for an upset tum.
When To See A Vet
If you’re seriously concerned, a little more caution is better than a little less. But serious signs usually include blood, or an inability to pass stool/urine, if they’re not eating or drinking or holding down food or drink. These are danger signs that we really need to listen to.
Yet, I do want to reiterate, that puppies do puke. Puppies do get diarrhoea. It’s not always going to mean they’re dying (I say this because I was right there with you with my first dog!), and learning to differentiate when to worry is really important.
If your vet thinks your dog may have ingested something bad for them, they may encourage you to enduce vomiting at home. Please do ensure that you’re doing this under veterinary guidance because hydrogen peroxide is a risky thing not to be done under professional guidance.
If you’re looking for a vet’s input, you can give a call to your local veterinary hospital, or sign up for something like Pawp, where you can video chat or message with a vet.
Symptoms Of An Upset Stomach
The following symptoms are pretty good signs that there’s something wrong, and that your puppy might have an upset tummy.
1 – Your Dog May Go Off Their Food
A change in appetite is usually indicative that their stomach isn’t great, that their constipated, or are struggling to create solid stools (e.g. diarrhoea).
This one really varies from dog to dog, some dogs have more of an appetite than others, that’s for sure! So, if your dog tends to have a low appetite, then it might not be a concern. But for a dog to go off their meal who tends to polish their bowl, then it’s likely that there is something awry.
You can try and tempt them too. Ignoring a bowl of kibble is one thing, but ignoring a cube of cheese? Well that’s a real cause for concern (or replace cheese with something else your dog loves!)
2 – Your Dog Might Drink More or Less
Drinking more or less is a sign too.
Sometimes your dog’s excessive drinking can be an attempt to try and flush things through.
And other times, they’ll really not want to drink because it worsens the nausea they’re feeling. I mean, we’ve all been there, right? Unsure if drinking is going to make it better or worse? Well it can be the same thing for your dog.
Drinking good clean water is always preferable though, so you can absolutely try freshening up their bowl and see if it makes a difference.
Note: if your dog is not drinking and it’s very hot? Make sure to monitor them closely for signs of dehydration.
3 – Your Dog May Get Disoriented Or Lack Coordination
Disorientation might come in walking closer to door frames, wobbliness, or bumping into things. It can be incredibly subtle because dogs rarely want to show that they’re weak. It might look like a stagger, or a reluctance to walk, all the way to an inability to move.
Watch them, and see if they’re looking distant, or poorly coordinated. This is a sign that they’re not ok, this one is usually a quick trip to the vets in the rebarkable household.
4 – Vomiting…
This one’s a pretty obvious one, but if your dog is puking, then you know it’s very likely to be a case that your dog is sick. This is the body’s natural reflex to bring up what’s troubling them.
I’m always a bit of a weirdo, because I check puke. Because the puke itself can tell you whole lot about why they’re sick. A foreign object can quickly highlight that was the reason, alternatively, blood? Another clue.
Excessive vomiting can create dehydration, so do be careful, if they’re truly off and cannot begin to regulate their vomiting, then calling your vet and heading down there is a good plan.
5 – Change in bowel movements or urination
Change from their regular is what you’re looking for. This might be dark, black, tarry stool, it might be poop that looks more like a cow pat.
The same goes for urine. Urine is more difficult to monitor because you can’t see it, but a great indicator is the frequency. If water is running through your dog, or if they’re producing more than they’re taking in, then it could be a sign that something isn’t working as it should within them.
Change in this can be subtle, it can also be not subtle. But knowing your dog’s normal, and not being able to put that change directly down to, say, a change in diet, then it’s quite likely that this is a sign that they’re unwell.
6 – Lethargy
An unusual tiredness might be a sign that there’s something wrong with your dog. That tiredness or lack of desire to get up, might well come fro the fact that they’re disoriented, but it could just but true exhaustion.
This might be seen as;
- a lack of desire to play
- a lack of desire to get up
- a lack of desire to walk
7 – Excessive drool
Drooling is once of those things that can mean a whole bunch of things, most commonly, it means you’re eating a sandwich right in front of them and it’s delicious looking. It can also be a sign that they have something stuck in their mouth (So make sure to sweep their mouth).
But, outside of that, it can be a sign that their insides are trying to “rinse” something out. It commonly happens to Lucy (my redtick coonhound) when she went through a phase of licking frogs – luckily they weren’t hallucinogenic ones.
This can be a sign of general nausea, and if you see it on it’s own, you might consider something as simple as a ginger biscuit to ease the affects of that nausea.
8 – Body Language
Your dog might also look sheepish, have a tucked tail, low ears and high brows, and be a little more private or evasive than normal. That is a solid sign that they’re not comfortable.
All of the above things are really nice signs that your dog is not feeing well, and if these signs worsen, then you’re likely looking at a trip to the vet. Then the real “It’s time to worry” thing are symptoms like the following;
- Cannot hold down food
- Cannot keep in water
- Gum Color
- High Temperatures
- Blood in stool or vomit
Are all going to be a vet trip, most likely
What To Give Or Do For An Upset Stomach
I’m a big fan of home remedies (and natural remedies, to be honest!), I often find with sickness that once we get over the initial panic and stress, that there is a lot we can do for our dog or puppy to make them feel comfortable, and to get them quickly back to their normal cute fluffy butt self. So here’s some tried and tested ways to get your dog over their upset tum!
When your pup gets their appetite back, it might be your choice to pick a bland diet, some people choose chicken and rice or pasta, or fish and potatoes, depending on allergies. You can also opt for some more gentle canned food which is often available at your vet.
Decrease Amount Of Food
I will always advocate decreasing meal size when your puppy gets sick. It’s one of those things that little and often is going to be better to readjust the stomach to taking in food, as opposed to satiating their hunger. Afterall, we really don’t want to make them puke from over feeding!
I will also starve for a short period to help my dogs push out whatever’s in their system if I think they can’t handle food (but always make sure water is available).
A wonderful sweet potato is gentle, but packed with nutrient and enough to give your dog something in their tummy. I tend to stab them and pop them in the microwave until soft and then mash them. Sometimes I’ll even mix in a little softened kibble to bring in some protein too.
This is Pumpkin Puree in it’s pure form NOT pumpkin pie filling!! It really must be pure pumpkin to ensure that your dog isn’t about to ingest a bunch of excess sugars or artificial sweeteners which can be really toxic to your canine companion.
Pumpkin is quite soothing because of it’s thick texture, mild sugars and fibers, is kind of just what the vet ordered to help soothe an achey tummy.
Small amounts of regular food, softened if kibble
If you feed kibble, it could be a really good idea so soak their kibble before you feed it, turning into this inoffensive mash means that it won’t swell when it gets to your puppy’s tummy and will just help your pup to eat what they need to eat, or feel capable of eating without making themself feel worse.
Packed full of good fats and nutrients, bone broth is one of those power foods for dogs that has pretty much everything they could need to get them back on their paws. I tend to make this myself, and then freeze it into icecubes that work really when when they’re feeling a little under the weather.
Want my recipe? Go See how I make bone broth.
Ginger is fantastic for settling digestive upset, for me, this is one I use when I know my dogs are feeling queasy, whether it’s car sickness, or just something that’s not setting well. It’s something I use in my doggy Ginger biscuits.
Plain yoghurt is one of those awesome probiotic things that help to bring in good bacteria back to your puppy’s tummy. It also gives some substance and some hydration which can help to get your dog over their feeling unwell.
This is one of those things I keep in the cupboard, and I believe all dog owners should! They’re a great way to give your dog that boost they need after being unwell, and fera pet are a brand I trust.
White Rice, Mashed Potato Or Pasta
This definitely falls under the “bland foods” category, not all human foods are good for your dog, but they are definitely good for lining your dog’s stomach with gentle, bland food. Just remember, no salt, no pepper, no butter.
Small amounts of water
If your dog is trying to drink too much water, things like ice chips can keep them hydrating, without exposing them to too much water. Because whilst hydration is important, it has to be a balance!
Why Could My Puppy Be Sick?
There are so many reasons your puppy might be struggling, but here are a few most common causes;
Ingestion of Foreign Objects – When puppy proofing doesn’t quite go the way you planned, and puppy gets into your kids
Hunger pukes – where your puppy has an empty tummy (this will be frothy!), for this one though, I would recommend re-assessing feeding schedule!
They May Have Eaten Too Fast – this will basically be a reappearance of their dinner, and if they’re guzzling down their grub, you might want to look into slow feeders or interactive feeding methods
Stress – dogs can get stress poops, it’s one of the most common reasons that dogs poop unusually,
Bacterial infections (e.g. Leptospirosis) – naturally, a foreign body can absolutely make your puppy sick.
Adjusting to new food – If you’ve changed your puppy’s diet too quick it can be a case that a dog’s tummy won’t adjust that quick, which can cause regurgitation of some diahhrea.
Food allergies – Sometimes certain ingredients don’t agree with out dogs, whether it’s a case that it’s a certain protein, or other food intolerances, they can create an allergic reaction or stomach problems.
GI tract issues, blockages or similar, this one is suuuuper difficult to diagnose at home, and will have to be a vet check!
Note: If you’re changing your dog’s diet, it’s a really good idea to phase it in, i,e, integrate 5-10% of the new food for their total meal. Leave them on that for a few days and see if your dog gets sick! If they do, decrease the amount and try again, if it works, increase it another 5-10% and repeat until the diet is totally transferred! This way creating the best way to avoid digestive issues!
Is It Different For Puppies Than Adult Dogs?
It can be! Typically, an adult dog will have tried more thing and have a more diverse pallet and understand what things may make them sick from prior experience.
What If Puppy Keeps Getting Tummy Issues?
If you keep finding that your dog or puppy gets these issues periodically, then you might want to involve a vet or a dietician because it’s becomes an issue with
Get Well Soon!!
It’s so tough when our dogs are sick and they can’t just tell us, but hopefully, with this write up, you’re feeling much more confident to know when your dog isn’t feeling well. And remember, this is what your vet is for! If you’re unsure, even just call their reception and ask what they think.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!