What is Upset Stomach?
An upset stomach is defined as a disorder of digestive functioning. This often causes discomfort in the stomach and digestive system. An upset stomach can occur in animals of all ages and across a variety of breeds. Furthermore, dogs and cats tend to eat just about anything, so an upset stomach can be a common occurrence in the household!
Symptoms of an upset stomach:
Symptoms of an upset stomach can range in severity and occurrence, depending on the cause of the upset. Common symptoms can include the following:
What Causes Upset Stomach?
Most digestive upsets are caused when animals eat something they shouldn’t or something that ‘does not agree with them.’ This can range from foods that are too rich, unhealthy treats – to plastic or items in the garbage that may cause a blockage in the digestive system.
For this reason, it is important that you monitor your pet’s bowel habits and look out for any inconsistencies. Stress, bacteria, viruses, parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, poor digestion and dietary changes can also cause upset stomachs.
Diagnosing Upset Stomach
Common digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation or vomiting are grouped under the umbrella term of upset stomach, and may not be a serious condition – as most pets from time to time may experience all three conditions separately.
Some dogs may occasionally vomit frothy, yellow bile after waking in the morning, or due to hair ingestion while grooming – but this does not affect appetite and is not an indication of disease. If you are concerned, your vet may take a stool sample from your pet to check for parasitic infection or bacteria in the digestive system. Blood tests may be performed if the condition is chronic and ongoing.
When Should I Worry About Upset Stomach?
If you notice that your pet is lethargic or if vomiting and diarrhea are accompanied by fever or loss of appetite, it is advisable that you contact your vet for further advice. If your pet is vomiting, ensure that they are adequately hydrated to guard against dehydration.
If you notice that your pet’s stomach becomes rapidly bloated or distended and your pet seems to be uncomfortable or in distress – contact your vet immediately as this may be a sign of bloat – a potentially serious condition that warrants immediate attention. Poisoning is also a concern, if you suspect your pet has been poisoned – call your vet immediately!
Help for Upset Stomach
There are a number of conventional and traditional treatments for animals with an upset stomach. Conventional medications may include pediatric medications for digestive discomfort – but should only be administered if you have consulted with your vet (never give OTC medications to your pets without consulting your vet). Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed depending on the root cause of your pet’s condition.
There are many natural herbal and homeopathic remedies used to soothe the animal digestive system and help restore balance. Plantain is a well-known herbal remedy that uses mucilage to bulk up stools. Alchemilla vulgaris and Podophyllum are natural remedies, suited to animals that need digestive support in hot weather.
Arsen alb., a homeopathic remedy, helps to support both the digestive and the nervous system, making it an excellent choice for the ‘highly strung’ pet – that may have digestive problems related to stress and anxiety.
More Information on Upset Stomach
Tips to help your pet
There are a few things you can do to help soothe your pet’s upset stomach:
- If your pet is vomiting do not feed for 24 hours. This will give your pet’s stomach a rest. If your pet is still vomiting after one day or is lethargic and disoriented, take them to the vet right away.
- As vomiting can lead to dehydration, make sure your pet has access to fresh, clean water. Small amounts should be given often. A vomiting pet will often drink too much too fast and this in turn will aggravate the vomiting. If your pet won’t drink, don’t force them – try getting them to lick ice cubes.
- Prevent your pet from drinking from the toilet – although they may love this activity, they may get a taste of some bad bacteria, which may lead to an upset stomach.