Dogs with Upset Stomach

A very common ailment that our veterinarians see in their canine patients is gastrointestinal upset, most commonly observed as vomiting or diarrhea. There are many reasons why your dog may have an “upset stomach” including dietary indiscretion/intolerance, bacterial, viral, GI parasites and systemic diseases including pancreatitis. If your pet is experiencing vomiting and/or diarrhea, we recommend that you call to make an appointment for your pet to be examined by one of our veterinarians.

Abrupt dietary changes are a very common cause to upset stomach in dogs. If your pet’s diet is changed to a different brand or protein source too rapidly, it can result in gastrointestinal upset. We recommend that, when changing your pet’s diet; mix the old food with the new food, gradually increasing the portion of the new food each day over the span of 1-2 weeks. If your pet is experiencing diarrhea as a result of an abrupt diet change, the veterinarian may prescribe a special prescription dog food.  This food is bland and easily digestible as treatment. It is important to not give dogs any human medications without first consulting with your veterinarian.

Bacterial causes can also cause Diarrhea and Vomiting. As with humans, certain bacteria and GI parasites including Giardia can colonize inside of your dog’s GI tract, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Bacterial causes of vomiting and diarrhea can often be controlled with anti-nausea, antacids, and antibiotics to eliminate the bacterial infection. It is important to bring a fecal sample to your veterinarian, so that they can test for GI parasites.

Another cause of vomiting and diarrhea is viral, in particular, Parvo Enteric Virus. This very serious infection most commonly affects young, unvaccinated dogs. It is up to 90% fatal without treatment. However, proper treatment is often rewarding, and many dogs affected by Parvo Virus will fully recover with correct treatment. It is virtually impossible to prevent your dog from acquiring Parvo without correct vaccination that is 99% effective at preventing the disease.

Another more severe cause of vomiting and diarrhea is ingestion of a foreign object. Common foreign bodies include socks, balls, change, and pacifiers. Just about anything foreign can be ingested by a curious pet and can cause serious GI problems including obstruction of the GI tract. In cases where foreign ingestion is suspected, your veterinarian will likely recommend radiographs (x-rays) to identify signs of an obstruction and attempt to visualize the foreign object ingested. Foreign bodies that cannot pass require surgery to remove them.


Before taking action with home remedies for your ailing furry friend, it is imperative to consult with one of our veterinarians before giving your pet a medication which can make things worse or be unsafe for pets. Some things that may be attempted include:

• Restricting food for 24 hours, then offering a bland diet, such as boiled chicken or hamburger (no skin or bones)
• Ice cubes or ice chips – It is important that your dog stays hydrated, and restricting water is never recommended. Ice cubes or ice chips can help by offering small amounts of water to stay hydrated without your pet drinking large amounts, which may increase the likelihood of vomiting.

Seeking help from your veterinarian, so that a complete physical examination can be performed, and appropriate testing and treatment begun, is the best course of action.