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Common Causes of an Upset Stomach in Dogs and How to Help

Written by: Helena Lawrence

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Time to read 6 min

Just like humans, dogs can experience gastrointestinal problems that lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal discomfort. Understanding the common causes of upset stomachs in dogs is crucial for providing care and relief to our furry companions.

Causes of an Upset Stomach in Dogs

1. Dietary Factors

a) Dietary Changes 

Dogs thrive on consistency in their diet; abrupt transitions can upset their stomachs. When introducing a different food to a dog, it is important to take a gradual approach throughout one to two weeks, which involves mixing increasing portions of the new food with the current food, allowing the dog's digestive system to adapt to the new diet.


This gradual change reduces the likelihood of digestive issues. Slowly incorporating the new food and giving the dog's body time to adjust minimises the risk of upsetting its digestive system. Taking the necessary time to introduce new food gradually is a responsible way to prioritise the dog's digestive well-being.

b) Food Allergies

Like humans, dogs can develop food allergies or sensitivities. Common food allergies are:

  • Beef 
  • Chicken
  • Dairy products 
  • Wheat
  • Soy 

If your dog shows symptoms of digestive upset, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, it's important to speak to a vet to identify potential allergens.


An elimination diet or allergy testing may be recommended to understand the specific triggers. Once identified, eliminating the allergens from the dog's diet can help ease digestive issues.

c) Eating things they shouldn't

Dogs are known for their curious nature and may consume things they shouldn't such as certain foods or foreign objects. These can irritate the stomach lining, leading to digestive upset. It is crucial to prevent access to such items and ensure a safe environment for your dog to avoid these incidents as best you can.

2. Gastrointestinal Infections

a)  Bacterial Infections

Dogs can contract bacterial infections like Salmonella or E. coli through contaminated food, water, or contact with infected animals. These infections can cause severe gastrointestinal conditions.


To prevent bacterial infections, ensure proper food handling and storage, provide clean and fresh water, and avoid contact with potentially infected animals or their faeces.

b)  Viral Infections

Viruses such as canine parvovirus and rotavirus can cause gastroenteritis in dogs which is why it is important to make sure your dog is vaccinated in lnine with your vet's advice. 


If your dog develops symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy, immediate veterinary attention is necessary for supportive care and treatment.

c)  Prevention and Treatment

Practising proper hygiene measures is essential to keep your dog in a clean and healthy environment, which includes:

  • Washing your hands after handling raw meat or coming into contact with animal faeces. 
  • Regularly cleaning food and water bowls to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection of their bedding, toys, and living areas.

3. Intestinal Parasites

a)  Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms

Roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are common parasites affecting dogs, especially puppies. These parasites live in the dog's intestines and can cause symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss, and a dull coat. Routine deworming helps prevent and control these infestations as does maintaining good hygiene practices, such as promptly removing faeces from the environment.

b) Giardia and Coccidia

Giardia and coccidia are microscopic parasites that can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Dogs usually get these parasites by drinking contaminated water or contact with infected animals. 


Diagnosis is confirmed through a veterinary examination and specialised tests. Treatment typically involves medication prescribed by a veterinarian, environmental cleanup and proper hygiene practices to prevent re-infestation.

4. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis can be caused by various factors, including high-fat diets, table scraps, certain medications, or even specific health conditions. Dogs with pancreatitis may experience abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhoea. If you suspect your dog has pancreatitis, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately.


Treatment typically involves supportive care, including fluid therapy, pain management, and a low-fat, easily digestible diet. Your vet will guide managing pancreatitis and preventing future episodes.

5. Stress and Anxiety

Events such as changes in the household, loud noises, separation anxiety, or travel can trigger upset tummies and digestive issues in dogs. 


To help ease stress:

  • Create a calm environment for your dog. 
  • Provide them with a designated space to retreat and feel safe. 
  • Incorporate mental stimulation activities such as lickmats or slow feeder bowls at mealtimes. Training activities and even going somewhere new for their walk can help keep them distracted.
  • Consider behavioural remedie, such as pheromone diffusers or anxiety-reducing supplements

Treatment and Home Care Tips

1. Speak to a Vet

If your dog experiences recurring or severe upset stomachs, it is important to consult with a vet as they can help identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment options.

2. Bland Diet

Introduce a bland diet consisting of boiled chicken or lean ground beef with rice or sweet potatoes, which helps soothe the digestive system and provides easily digestible nutrients.

3. Probiotics

Probiotic supplements, such as Super Tummy Daily, can promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, aiding digestion and reducing gastrointestinal inflammation. 

4. Hydration

It is essential to provide your dog with constant access to fresh water, particularly during episodes of vomiting or diarrhoea. If your dog cannot keep water down, contact your vet for guidance on how to keep them hydrated. A great benefit of our dog diarrhoea relief product, Super Tummy Instant, is that it contains electrolytes to help keep your dog hydrated whilst the fast acting natural clays get to work in settling their tummy.

5. Prescription medication

In severe cases or when symptoms persist, your vet may prescribe anti-emetics to control vomiting or antidiarrheals to ease diarrhoea. If you dog does end up needing medication it is important to follow your vet's instructions regarding dosage and administration.

Preventative Measures

1. Changing their diet slowly

When introducing new food to your dog's diet, gradually mix increasing amounts of the new food with the old over a week or two, which allows the digestive system to adapt and reduces the risk of upset stomachs.

2. Identify and eliminate allergies

If your dog has known food allergies or sensitivities, work with your vet to identify the specific allergens. Once identified, eliminate those ingredients from your dog's diet to prevent further digestive issues.

3. Proper Food Handling and Storage

Handle and store dog food properly to prevent bacterial contamination. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for storage and check for expiration dates. Wash food and water bowls regularly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

4. Regular vet check-ups 

These are essential for maintaining your dog's overall health and identifying potential issues early on. Your vet can guide you on vaccinations, deworming, and preventative measures for your dog's needs.

5. A clean environment

Maintain a clean living environment for your dog by regularly cleaning and disinfecting their bedding, toys, and living areas. Promptly remove poop from the garden to minimise the risk of parasite transmission.

6. Stress management

Minimise stress and anxiety in your dog's life by providing a stable and predictable environment. Use positive reinforcement techniques and consider activities that promote mental stimulation and relaxation.

Conclusion

Understanding the common causes of upset stomachs in dogs empowers dog owners to provide timely care and alleviate their furry friends' discomfort. Owners can promote digestive health in dogs by maintaining a consistent diet, addressing dietary allergies, preventing parasitic infestations, managing stress, and implementing proper hygiene practices.


Consulting a vet is crucial in cases of persistent or severe symptoms to identify underlying issues and determine the appropriate treatment. With attentive care, love, and proper nutrition, dogs can overcome upset stomachs and enjoy a healthy and vibrant life