How to Cure a Dog's Stomach Ache

Three Parts:Curing Your Dog’s Stomach AcheDiagnosing a Stomach AchePreventing Stomach Aches

From time to time we all suffer the discomfort of stomach ache — and dogs are no different. If you suspect your dog has stomach ache, there are actions you should take to help him feel comfortable and reduce the risk of it developing into sickness or diarrhea.

Part 1
Curing Your Dog’s Stomach Ache

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    Withhold food. If your dog’s digestive system is upset, you want to let it rest for a while by not giving it any work to do. Feeding a dog requires his stomach and intestine to produce digestive juices to process the food. These juices will probably aggravate any inflammation or soreness he may have, and end up making him feel worse.
    • Don’t feed your dog for 24 hours.
    • If he’s still showing symptoms of stomach ache by then, get him checked by a vet.
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    Provide clean, fresh drinking water. Keep an eye on your dog to check if he’s drinking. If he drinks less than normal over a 24-hour period and still seems uncomfortable, then a vet check is in order. Also be on the lookout for thirsty drinking. Some dogs will drink excessively if they feel sick. A whole bowl of water hitting the stomach at once may cause him to vomit.
    • If he vomits the water back, ration the water into small amounts every half an hour.
    • For a dog under 22 lbs (10kg), provide an egg cup worth of water every 30 minutes. For a dog over 22 lbs, provide half a teacupful every 30 minutes.
    • If the dog drinks and goes 2 - 3 hours without vomiting, then allow free access to water.
    • If he continues to vomit despite rationing, then a vet check is required.
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    Ease your dog back into a regular diet. If, after 24 hours without food, your dog seems back to normal and is asking for food, feed him a bland diet for the next 24 hours. Low-fat, easy to digest foods include chicken breast, rabbit, turkey, or cod. You can combine those meats with white pasta, rice, or boiled mashed potato (but without the addition of dairy products).
    • Don’t feed him a 'chicken flavor' food. These usually contain a very low percentage of chicken meat, and re a poor substitute for the real thing.[1]
    • You might ask your vet for dog food designed to speed up recovery from a stomach ache. These include Hills ID or Purina EN diets.
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    Feed him a small meal at first. For the first meal after his 24-hour fast, offer your dog a meal that’s about 1/4th of his usual size, to test out his stomach. A small meal is gentler on his system than a large one. This is a good way of checking out whether or not he truly is feeling better.
    • If after 24 hours of starvation the dog is not hungry or is still not 100% then a vet check is in order.
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    Give him some TLC (tender loving care). You know from when you’ve been sick yourself that a little sympathy can go a long way to helping you feel better. Sit quietly with your dog and speak in a quiet, reassuring voice. Stroke his head and smooth the fur along his back.
    • Don’t massage his stomach. Your dog can’t tell you if you’re making him feel better or worse. If you hit a particularly tender spot, you could cause a sudden, sharp pain that makes him turn around and nip you.
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    Provide a gentle heat source. Some dogs seem to benefit from heat therapy. f your dog is shaking, try giving him a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to snuggle up to. Just make sure he can move away from the heat if he finds it uncomfortable. Don’t strap it to him so he’s stuck with it whether he wants it or not.
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    Contact the vet when necessary. If your dog’s in mild discomfort but is otherwise healthy, it’s fine to monitor him and take the above steps to make him more comfortable. However, if he takes a turn for the worse, you should always contact your veterinarian. This includes if your dog starts to show the following signs:
    • Non-productive retching: A dog trying to be sick but bringing nothing up is a serious sign that could indicate a twisted stomach. Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian as a possible emergency.
    • Vomiting for more than 4 hours
    • Vomiting and not keeping fluids down: This poses a dehydration risk, so contact your vet. They can administer fluids through an IV if necessary.
    • Dull mental attitude or lack of energy
    • Not eating for more than 24 hours
    • Diarrhea (without blood) for more than 24 hours
    • Diarrhea with blood
    • Increasing distress such as whining, or crying
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    Treat him with anti-nausea medication. If your dog has regular problems with stomach aches from a known cause (such as a dog undergoing chemotherapy, or who has kidney disease), then your veterinarian may prescribe a medication treat them.
    • Maropitant (Cerenia) is commonly prescribed for dogs on chemotherapy.[2] This tablet is given once daily, and works for 24 hours. The oral dose is 2 mg/kg, which means an average sized Labrador takes one 60mg tablet once daily.

Part 2
Diagnosing a Stomach Ache

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    Be alert to restlessness.[3] You know your own dog and know when he's not acting right. Whether your dog is normally high-energy or a couch potato, you’ll be able to tell if he seems more restless than usual. This can be a sign of stomach discomfort.
    • He may not be able to find a comfortable position to lie down in.
    • He might pace back and forth endlessly.
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    Note if he’s looking at his flanks. A dog’s flanks are by its hind legs, just in front of its thighs. Sometimes, dogs don’t understand what’s happening to them when they get sick. They crane their necks around looking for the source of discomfort, as if trying to see what is hurting. A dog that’s looking back at its flanks might have stomach pain.
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    Look for excessive licking. Stomach ache or cramps can make your dog feel nauseous. When that happens, dogs tend to lick their lips more frequently. Some dogs will lick a forearm or another part of their body in an effort to comfort themselves.
    • Unusual or excessive drooling can also be a sign of nausea or stomach disturbance. Some breeds naturally drool more than others, so use your knowledge of your pet to decide whether or not the drooling is abnormal.
    • Gulping is also associated with stomach discomfort.
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    Listen for stomach rumbling and flatulence. If a digestive disturbance caused the stomach ache, you might be able to hear his stomach rumbling. This sound is air moving within the bowel, and it may work itself out as flatulence!
    • If you can’t hear stomach rumbling, that doesn’t rule out a stomach ache. You just can’t hear it.
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    Notice if your dog assumes the “praying position.” A classic sign of stomach discomfort is when the dog adopts what's called the 'praying position'. This looks a lot like when your dog bows down in a playing position. You’ll be able to tell whether he’s playing or feeling sick by his demeanor.
    • The dog stretches with his bottom in the air and his forequarters low to the ground.
    • With this position, he’s trying to stretch his stomach to ease the discomfort.
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    Look for vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog is suffering from these symptoms, you probably won’t have to look hard. Just like humans, dogs suffer from vomiting and diarrhea when they get stomach upsets. Even though the cleanup isn’t fun, don’t hold it against him! He can’t help it!

Part 3
Preventing Stomach Aches

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    Keep rotting food out of reach. As a dog-owner, you’ve probably learned that your dog will eat just about anything. Unfortunately, this includes rotten food that can cause stomach aches or more serious problems. Make sure all rotten food products are kept secured in your kitchen so your dog can't get into them. Scan your yard from time to time to ensure no vermin or other animals have died on your property. Remember, your dog will smell a carcass before you will.
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    Do not free-feed your pet.[4] Some owners free-feed their dogs, meaning they put out large amounts of food and allow their pets to graze throughout the day. An owner may find this easier than keeping to scheduled meals, but experts discourage it. Free-fed dogs tend to eat far more than they should, resulting in obesity and its associated health risks. Binge eating in a short period of time can also result in stomach aches that you could have prevented with a small amount of effort.
    • Feed your adult dog the same amount of food twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening. How much food you provide per meal with depend on the size of your breed. Because the range provided on dog food packaging can vary wildly, ask your veterinarian for guidance.
    • You can also find calculators for recommended caloric intake online.[5] After finding out how many calories your dog should be eating per day, look at the calorie content of your food and work out your meal size.
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    Buy a good quality dog food.[6] There are some foods in the pet aisle that market themselves toward a specific breed of dog. However, breed has nothing to do with what you should feed your dog. You should focus instead on your dog's size and choose a dog food formulated for his metabolism.
    • Choose dog foods with high quality ingredients. The cheapest foods on the shelf likely contain cheap, hard-to-digest ingredients.
    • Just like with human food, dog foods must list their ingredients by how much of a given item is in the food. Look for dog foods that list a protein like fish, meat, or egg as the first or second ingredient. The more protein a food has, the more easily your dog can digest it.
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    Do not feed your dog from the table. While dogs seem to eat and enjoy almost everything, their bodies cannot process all the same foods that ours can. Many common household foods are toxic to dogs. The stomach ache your pet gets from eating these foods in small amounts might actually be a reaction to doggy poison. Never feed your dog the following foods[7]:
    • Avocado
    • Bread dough
    • Chocolate
    • Alcohol
    • Grapes or raisins
    • Food with hops in them
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Onion
    • Garlic
    • Xylitol, a product commonly found in "sugar-free" foods
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    Don't let him play with sick dogs. Just like kids passing around a cold at school, dogs can pass illness back and forth when they come into contact. If you know that a dog has been ill in the very recent past, keep your dog away from him until you're certain the dog is no longer contagious.
    • At a dog park, this can be hard to figure out because of how many dogs play one place. Also, different dogs show up from day to day.
    • If your dog becomes ill, you might ask around at the dog park to see if any of the other owners know of another dog that has been ill recently.
    • Talking to that owner will give you some more information on what is wrong with your dog and whether or not it's serious.
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    Take your dog’s underlying health issues into consideration. Some conditions, such as pancreatitis, cause frequent stomach aches. If you know your dog has such a condition, watch him closely for signs of stomach ache or other deterioration on a regular basis. Look for loss of energy, sickness, or diarrhea. Early treatment by a veterinarian can make the episode pass faster and less painfully.
    • Also be careful if your dog has an illness (like diabetes) that would be made worse by his not eating. A simple stomach ache could trigger it and make it much worse. Contact your vet for advice if you see any change in his eating.

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Categories: Canine Health