Upset Stomach in Dogs and Cats

There’s nothing more upsetting than seeing a family member unwell, and cats and dogs are no exception. However, gastrointestinal upset will happen from time to time as part of an active pet’s natural life.

Keep in mind that unlike other family members, animals are unable to express their emotions in the same way as we verbally can. Therefore, it’s important to look out for non-verbal cues and physical symptoms to better understand your pet’s condition.

upset stomach in dogs

What is an upset stomach in a pet?

Much like us, feline and canine digestive systems are prone to upset. This occurs when the body rejects food, and can be for a number of reasons. The consequence is vomiting or diarrhea in your pet — or sometimes both, along with general discomfort. It’s a good idea if your pet is vomiting or having diarrhea that you call your local veterinarian.

Causes of an upset stomach in dogs and cats

There’s a whole host of reasons why your pet may be experiencing an upset stomach. On the whole, this is usually because of something they’ve eaten, but it can be attributed to:

  • Scavenging: This is a real issue with dogs, who unlike cats, are not particularly fussy about what they eat. As a result, very little is off bounds. Sometimes, and often due to the places they visit and close proximity to the ground, dogs will consume something they should have left alone. The result is an inflamed digestive tract.
  • Diet: Simply put, our pet’s diets are different to ours. Anything from chocolate to certain household plants consumed can pose a risk to their natural digestion. Additionally, they may have allergic reactions to certain ingredients – for instance, most cats happen to be lactose intolerant. If in doubt, speak to your veterinarian for guidelines or a nutritional plan for your cat or dog.
  • Viruses: Much like us, pets are not immune to viruses. These can result in an upset stomach and in some cases bacterial infections may also occur.
  • Parasites: Hookworm and giardia are just a few of the parasites that may affect your pet’s digestion. Keeping up with their latest injections, deworming and flea courses will help reduce the chances of this.
  • Anxiety: Although often short-lived, it is not uncommon for a bout of anxiety to take hold of your precious pet. In times of distress, this can cause stomach upset, among other symptoms.
  • Hairballs: Specifically in cats, hairballs can appear to have similar symptoms to being unwell. This is usually identified as a loud retching noise, followed by bringing the hairball up. A diet rich in fiber will assist with the natural flow of hair through digestion, along with regular grooming.

Although less common, there are other issues, such as; eating stray objects, digesting toxins, suffering from ulcers and liver or kidney disease that may be the cause. If your cat or dog has ongoing issues, or you are in any way concerned, it’s best to call a vet immediately.

Diagnosis of Upset Stomach in Cats and Dogs

The most common signs of an upset stomach including vomiting and diarrhea, this may be also accompanied by other symptoms, such as: low-energy and lethargy, whining, dehydration, excessive gas, drooling and loss of appetite. Cats especially can retreat and hide away if feeling unwell.

The first course of action is to call your vet. Once an upset stomach is confirmed, follow their guidelines and advice. This will usually include an absence from food or limited diet, since food may continue to aggravate them. This might mean excluding certain foods for a while as well, such as diary based produce.

Remedies for Upset Stomach in Dogs and Cats

At home, there are a number of natural remedies you can use to nurse your pet back to full health. These should always be in accordance with your vet’s instructions.

Both cats and dogs need to stay hydrated through their bout of illness. Unfortunately, too much water intake may result in further vomiting. In order to manage this, it’s best to offer your pet some ice cube chips every few hours to keep their fluids up.

upset stomach in cats

For cats:

  • Catnip: This herb mixed with glycerine tincture (10-20 drops for every 20 pounds of weight) along with a touch of fennel can help keep nausea at bay.
  • Fasting: Nothing by mouth might be the best way to rid an upset stomach. However, cats should not go longer than 24 hrs without food

For dogs:

  • Bone broth: The restorative qualities of bone broth have been well documented over the years. Simply simmer meat on the bone with cider vinegar and water, over a slow heat. Once the meat falls off continue to simmer the bones. These contain beneficial minerals and nutrients along with bone marrow. Be sure to skim off any fat before giving it to your dog. Again, you may choose to offer these in the form of ice cube chips.
  • Canned pumpkin: A slow release of energy, anything from half a teaspoon for a small dog, up to a tablespoon for larger dogs, can aid their digestion. Add a small amount of ginger to help them along the way. Do not substitute this for pumpkin pie mix, which is not the same.

Final word

Having an unwell pet can be an upsetting experience, but usually is short-lived with most pets improving within 24 to 48 hours.

During this time, be mindful of their fragility, handling them with extra care and sensitivity. Keep them comfortable; neither too hot nor cold.

If your pet remains weak and fragile showing little signs of recovery, or if their condition worsens, be sure to call a veterinarian immediately, to rule out any other possibilities.

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