Stomach Upset

In order to diagnose the causes of a stomach upset in a dog, it is important to be aware of the symptoms this upset is resulting in. These symptoms can include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating and lethargy.  They can occur together or on their own. The stomach upset can be a symptom for more dangerous health problems and so it is also vital that this is considered when understanding the problem. Ideally, if the dog presents any severe or consistent signs of stomach problems, a veterinarian should be contacted.

All dogs at any age and breed are able to become affected by a stomach upset during their life.  However, some are more susceptible than others, especially those with a compromised immunity or that are elderly. The possible causes of an upset stomach include allergies, an incorrect diet, a change in diet and stress.

Food Allergies and Intolerances Causing Stomach Upsets in Dogs

An allergy is an immune response within the body to an allergen, and in this case it would be food. Allergies to food generally result in skin conditions, leading to excessive scratching.  Food intolerances are more likely to induce vomiting and diarrhoea. The types of food which dogs may be sensitive to include chicken, wheat, dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, and corn. The signs and symptoms of such sensitivity can also include flatulence, regurgitation, and generally problems with the stool.

Many dogs are commonly seen to have allergies and intolerances to certain foods, especially cheap dog foods containing a great number of additives. These dogs may also have very sensitive stomachs which means finding the correct hypoallergenic diet for them can sometimes by very difficult.  If these are the causes of the dog’s problems, then eliminating certain foods in the diet can often help identify which ones are the culprits.

Diet and Stomach Upset in Dogs

Even if it is not due to an intolerance or allergy, a dog’s food or its eating habits can still be the cause of an upset stomach. Often dogs that eat their food too quickly can regurgitate and appear to have stomach problems. The simple solution is to hand feed the dog slowly until it comes into the habit of doing so by itself. Changing a diet too quickly can lead to a stomach upset as the body tries to cope with this new food substance the dog has ingested. If a diet change is necessary, owners should change the food by ten per cent every day.

Dogs that have been given access to too much food will often eat it all and this can even lead to them being sick. It is not uncommon for a dog to swallow a solid object such as a ball or a sock. This can lead to blockages, and thus a stomach upset. Often the dog may pass the foreign object out although in many cases surgery may be required.

Parasites Causing Stomach Upsets in Dogs

The main cause of a parasitic organism leading to the signs and symptoms of a stomach upset are worms. Dogs with worms may vomit, have diarrhoea, and rapidly lose weight despite being given the correct diet. Dog worms include Coccidiosis, Giardiasis, Gnathostoma, and Hookworms. In some cases, the dog may have bloody or mucous filled diarrhoea. 

Since dogs are always coming into contact with environments which contain worms and their eggs, they are very vulnerable to ingesting and becoming infected by them. Affected dogs should be taken to the vets and treated immediately. Worms in dogs is easily preventable by regularly treating them with medication bought from the vets. This is a much cheaper and healthier alternative than the dog becoming infested with these endo-parasites.

Harmful Pathogens and Stomach Upsets in Dogs

Gastritis is often caused by an irritation of the stomach by bacteria or viruses. Clostridia or salmonella may be the responsible bacteria in this case. An example of a causal virus is the parvovirus in addition to the coronavirus and distemper. If this is the case then the dog may vomit, have diarrhoea, be lethargic and have a fever.

Once diagnosed by a vet, medication can be given although some diseases have no cure. Most antibiotics can be administered to destroy any harmful bacteria. Often where diarrhoea and vomiting has lead to dehydration, intravenous fluids to replace those lost are usually required.

Poisons Leading to Stomach Upsets in Dogs

Toxic plants, pesticides and in some countries, certain small animals may be poisonous to dogs. In many cases, this leads to severe stomach upsets for the affected dogs. Ivy in particular has been known to do this. An avoidance of pesticides when owning a dog is vital as many rat poisons, if an appropriate quantity is ingested, can be fatal to the pet. Lead is also poisonous in sufficient amounts and can be found in paints.

Owners should remove anything which may be poisonous in order to prevent any problems for the dog. If the dog has been suspected of being poisoned then it should immediately be taken to a veterinary surgery and ideally, the owner should be able to have an idea as to what the poison is. As a result, this knowledge given to the vet may be able to save the animal’s life.

Travel Sickness in Dogs

Young puppies and dogs are commonly affected with motion sickness and this can result in diarrhoea and vomiting. The dog may salivate excessively, regurgitate and pant. May of these dogs can grow out of this problem, especially if they are made used to travelling by doing so little and often. If the problem persists, it is advisable to seek advice from a veterinarian where products are available to eliminate it.

It must be remembered that if owners wish to travel abroad, a pet passport is needed for the dog. These should only be done and are only accepted if signed by a legal veterinarian. On long journeys such as these, regular stops should be made to water and exercise the dog.


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