Digestive System: Upset Stomach

This article is posted as part of PGAA’s curation efforts. This was originally posted at Dog Health Handbook

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Constipation/ / Giardia/ Canine Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are due to symptoms or disturbances from the gut which together represent an upset stomach in dogs. These conditions are signs of a gastrointestinal problem and may be caused by a spectrum of agents, such as metabolic disorders (blood pressure etc), infections, parasitic infestation, poisoning & some physiological reasons too. Sudden onset of these conditions may be self resolving and might become chronic or more chronic if not treated. Treatment is usually dependent upon the severity and cause of the upset. Treatment of the symptoms alone is effective in most cases. Preventing these problems requires a review of a dogs hygiene and nutritional approach.

Vomiting and Canine Upset Stomach:

Vomiting is a forceful and stressed emitting of stomach and proximal small intestine contents through mouth. As a symptom it may or may not be associated with a pathological condition.

Vomiting is characterized by a sudden & vigorous onset, retching, and extreme pressure & contraction of abdominal & chest muscles & diaphragm.

It should be differentiated from “regurgitation”, which is a reactive movement of gastrointestinal contents, depending upon gravity & body position of dog.

Causes of Vomiting

In general vomiting is termed only as a symptom, not a disease. It is due to the irritation of nerves in the stomach and is controlled by a “Vomit Center” in the brain and indirectly via a “Chemoreceptor Trigger Zone” (CTZ).

Once the nerve endings that are present in the stomach and mostly in the proximal small intestine are irritated by any agent, like toxins, acids, microbes, chemicals, poisons or even rapid and strong digestive activity, this results into a triggering note for the vomit center in brain or for CTZ.

A nervous response immediately causes hyper salivation, opening of the esophageal end of the stomach, abdominal & chest muscular stress, followed with retching & forceful ejection of contents through the mouth.

Vomiting is caused primarily by gastrointestinal tract diseases and abnormalities of associated organs like the liver, pancreas etc. The electrolyte balance in the body may also cause vomiting.

Several microbes & fungi may release toxins, which generate the vomit response. Similarly a torsion & blockage in the digestive tract may also cause vomiting. If a dog eats grass it may cause vomiting, but the exact reason for the phenomenon is not known.

Another major reason for vomiting and dog upset stomach is that of gastritis & a chronic gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach). Inflammation could be associated with Ulcers in the stomach which may also induce vomiting.

Vomiting is primarily caused by gastrointestinal tract diseases and abnormalities of associated organs like the liver, pancreas etc. An electrolytes imbalance in body may also cause vomiting.

Treating Vomiting an Upset Stomach:

Vomiting should preferably be cured by removing the cause which led to the problem. Symptomatic treatment may be helpful but may not be the right option, since treating symptoms will not remove the cause.

Management of vomiting dog should be initiated with fasting and decreasing water supply for at least 12 – 24 hours. Water can be provided inform of ice.

In emaciated, weakened and critically emergent (vomiting) dogs, where is vomiting is severe, fluid therapy can be helpful in overcoming the condition. Fluid therapy can not only help in restoring your dog’s energy, but then prescribed drugs can also be administered.

Anti Emetics are drugs which can be used for reducing or inhibiting vomiting. Similarly, antispasmodic drugs can reduce severe contraction of abdominal and chest muscles, thus inhibits vomiting. Some of these drugs are scopolamine, trimethobenzamide, diphenhydramine etc.


Diarrhea is primarily due to the irritation of the small or large intestinal walls. An irritated and disturbed stomach can also be a reason for diarrhea, but not the primary reason.

Any irritation in the stomach will result in emetic (vomiting) activity in dogs. This activity due to abdominal contraction may disturb intestinal activity too, thus resulting into diarrhea.

The stomach is supposed to convert indigestible or large food particles in to small and absorbable content. If the stomach does not work properly, it will obviously pass on undigested and non absorbable material into intestines, which may cause diarrhea too.

The stomach is a home to several kinds of microbes. These microbes, if are maintained at normal levels are very useful, but may cause severe diarrhea if are not restricted by the natural operation of the stomach. Helicobacter is one of example, which can cause diarrhea, if the population of its species exceeds the limit.

Over the Counter Medications for Upset Stomach and Diarrhea

Under the advice of your veterinarian, Kaopectate could be used to calm a dog’s stomach and to help with diarrhea. The dosage guideline is one teaspoon of Kaopectate per 10 pounds of dog, 2 to 3 times per day. Your pet may need a different dosage, so be sure to check in with your veterinarian. You can give the medication to your dog via a turkey baster or an oral feeder made for dogs such as the Four Paws Easy Feeder Hand Feeding Syringe for Small Animals.

Pepto-bismol may also help your dog’s upset stomach. The dosage guideline is one teaspoon for every 20 pounds of dog. As with kaopectate, check with your veterinarian when it comes to the amount needed for your specific dog. Most dog’s do not like the flavor. You can use a turkey baster or an oral syringe made for dogs.

Herbal Approach to Soothe a Dogs Stomach

As an added level of dog upset stomach support, select natural herbs are associated with helping with digestive function. One product, Digestive Support, is made specifically to help provide dogs with an added level of digestive care. It contains herbs such as licorice (supports the digestive tract), Ulmus fulva (digestive herb) and Althaea officinalis (soothes mucus membranes in digestive tract).

This article is reprinted through the courtesy of the Dog Health Handbook The Dog Health Handbook is not intended to replace the advice of a Veterinarian, Groomer or Pet Health Professional. This site accepts advertising and other forms of compensation for products mentioned. Such compensation does not influence the information or recommendations made. We always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences. All rights reserved. © 2016 Dog Health Handbook..