If you’ve ever had an upset stomach (and most of us have!) you’ll know how terrible it can feel. You don’t want to eat, you have no energy, and you might even have bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
When your dog has a tummy issue, they suffer in much the same way! Whether it’s something they’ve eaten or bacterial infection, dogs are bound to have the odd stomach problem every now and then. But sometimes it’s a sign of something more serious—which is why it pays to know what to look out for and how to treat it.
This article will cover the main things you need to know about feeding a dog with a stomach issue, including improving gut health through things like LivelyPaws vitamin chews for dogs.
Understanding stomach issues in dogs
Dogs have a complex digestive system and are known for eating things that they probably shouldn’t.
There are many reasons your dog may be experiencing tummy problems, but some of the most common include gastrointestinal upset, parasites, reflux, or underlying gut health issues.
Gastritis/stomach inflammation is one of the most prevalent digestive issues in dogs. It can have a number of causes including allergies, medications, a change in diet, a virus, and so on. Symptoms include bloating, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, a lack of appetite, and indigestion.
It can also be a sign of a bigger problem.
Parasites, such as worms, are also very common. Worms tend to enter a dog through contaminated food or fecal matter. They then settle in the intestines, feeding off everything your dog has eaten. This often means your dog misses out on a lot of his much-needed nutrients, which can lead to weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
Viruses such as parvovirus (which is particularly dangerous and highly contagious) are spread through fecal matter and often attach to a new host after a dog ingests an infected dog’s feces. The virus attacks a healthy dog’s small intestine, where it can move into the bloodstream and eventually attack white blood cells, bone marrow, and the heart.
Natural remedies to relieve stomach issues
Feed a whole food diet
A natural but bland diet can help to alleviate some of your dog’s intestinal discomfort. This is best done with whole foods such as lean meats and cooked vegetables..
If your dog has recurring diarrhea or constipation, your first step should be to see a vet. However, for one-off issues, it’s easy to treat them with foods you might enjoy yourself if you have a stomach issue.
Plain cooked pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pie filling) is helpful as it’s very gentle on the stomach and rich in fiber, along with vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, and iron. Fiber adds bulk to your dog’s stool by absorbing water in the gut. It can also support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Plain boiled, shredded chicken is also easy to digest and contains many essential vitamins, minerals, fats, and amino acids. This makes it highly beneficial for when your pup is feeling unwell.
Avoid low-quality dog treats
Dog treats may seem like a fun and easy way to make your dog happy, but they may actually worsen their stomach issues. Treats often contain a huge range of harmful ingredients such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives that can irritate the lining of the gut. Check the ingredients list on every ‘treat’ before you buy and make sure there’s nothing you don’t recognize.
Treat with probiotics
Probiotics are ‘friendly’ bacteria that live in the digestive tract of all animals. These bacteria support digestion and the immune system and can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and clostridium. Specific strains known to benefit dogs include Enterococcus faecium and Bacillus coagulans. Bifidobacterium animalis has been shown to reduce acute diarrhea in dogs, while certain strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus can improve stool quality. Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG (LGG) is effective in preventing and treating diarrhea in humans and appears to be good for dogs as well.
Bone broth to soothe sensitive stomachs
Bone broth is a great way to relieve inflammation in the gut and nourish the intestinal lining. It’s made by boiling down meaty bones into a soup so that they contain all of the natural minerals contained within. One of the most important of these is glutamine, which is a fuel source for cells in the small intestine and large bowel. It’s an excellent fuel source for gut villi, which means it helps to prevent bacteria from entering the small intestine or bowel wall. Here’s a great recipe for bone broth (onion-free) from Dog’s Naturally Magazine.
NOTE: If your dog’s gut issues persist—especially if they are vomiting or have diarrhea—you must take him to a vet.