Your dog’s tummy health

We all know what to do if we are not feeling well. Sore tummies happen from time to time. When we are sick we reach for some crackers, curl up under a blanket and keep up our fluids. But, what do we do if our precious furbaby is sick with a sore tummy?

Shari talked to Dr Fran from Vogue Vets to learn about how to look after your pup when they have a sore tummy…

How do we know if our dog is sick?

Typically, dogs with an upset tummy’s will let you know by exhibiting some/all of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Salivation
  • Tries to eat grass or lick the floor
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Gurgling noises from the stomach

What to do if your dog is sick?

Firstly, we need to determine if it’s just a little upset tummy, or if it is a sign of something more sinister that needs your vet’s attention.

Unless it’s a puppy, if it’s a puppy, you should always go to a vet no matter what. Puppies, like human babies, can deteriorate very very quickly. So, if you have a baby puppy under six months, and they have one or two vomit/diarrhoea episodes, it is highly recommended you go see your vet. Poor sickly pups can dehydrate very quickly, and whilst it may not be a serious tummy bug, your pup may need an IV drip to give them the strength to fight that nasty sore tummy.

If your dog (that’s over a year old) has maybe only one or two diarrhoea/vomiting episodes, it can potentially be manged at home if your dog is relatively bright, eating and keeping their food down. You will know your dog yourself, if it’s not acting like they normally do, then a trip to the vet is not a bad idea.

As pawrents, most of us always jump to the worst conclusion and go straight to the vet. And, in all honestly, there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, getting reassurance of what is wrong is better for your pup and for you as it immediately reduces anxiety, making the whole situation a lot easier for everyone to handle. (I actually took Ishi to the emergency vet when she was a pup at 2am because she was bleeding, turned out to be that she was on her first heat, and there was absolutely nothing to worry about. The vet nurses did laugh though when I had to ask what being an heat meant, but I was a new furmum, I had no idea what I was dealing with. Needless to say, we both survived the ordeal and still laughing about it 9+ years later.)

So, what symptoms might cause you to take your dog to the vet if they have a sore tummy:

  • Lethargic
  • Running a fever
  • Vomiting continuously, over two times in a short period
  • Having continual diarrhoea, over two times in a short period
  • Seems to be dehydrated
  • Pacing nervously
  • Drooling uncontrollably
  • Retching without anything coming up
  • Has blood in his or her stool
  • Refusing to eat for longer than a 24hour period
  • Or, your dog’s stomach appears to be distended

Any of the above can indicate something quite sinister, so we highly suggest taking your pup to see a professional.

Can you get sick from your dog?

If Covid19 has taught us anything is that animals can spread some nasty germs to their human companions. But, as long as we’re not eating bats, there is easy ways to prevent us from catching zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are animal diseases that can be transferred to humans, and they’re not as rare as you might think. So, keeping our pets healthy is an important part of keeping ourselves and our families healthy too.

Although the risk of contracting a zoonotic infection is low, the consequences of infection with zoonotic diseases cannot be ignored. Pets are beneficial for our mental and physical health. I really don’t know how I would survive without my furbabies, coming home to a wagging tail every night and exploring our great state with them has made my life so much better, I wouldn’t want it any other way, but I also don’t want to catch nasty bugs from them either.

Zoonotic diseases can be prevented by adopting the recommendations below, so your family and pets will enjoy a healthy and happy life together:

  • Just like humans, if your pet is sick, keep them home to stop the spread of diseases. Missing out for a walk at a park or a day at daycare is much better than spreading a disease where everyone catches it, and could potentially re-infect your dog for longer, keeping them sick
  • There’s a very good reason why you shouldn’t let your dog lick your face, and that reason is to stop the spread of diseases. Yes, I know, you love your dog so much, and your dog loves you even more, so what harm can a little kiss do? Well… actually a lot! However hard it is, maybe, try to stop your dog from licking your face, especially directly into your mouth.
  • Worm cats and dogs regularly (for a worming regime to suit your pet’s life stage, please ask your healthcare team for more information)
  • Take your pet for regular veterinary health check-ups.
  • If you are raw feeding, make sure you source your meats from reputable sources, and freeze the meat before serving to kill most parasites
  • Prevent pets from wandering and scavenging
  • Bathe/groom your pet regularly
  • Keep your pet’s environment, including bedding, clean
  • Dispose of your pet’s faeces promptly
  • Encourage good hygiene in children from a young age. Luckily there is hand sanitiser available everywhere now, though in addition children should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly, especially before eating and after handling pets or toys
  • Always wash children’s hands after playing in dirt or sandpits
  • Wear gloves when gardening and always wash your hands thoroughly afterward
  • If you are pregnant, ask another family member to handle pet’s faeces

Some zoonotic diseases to watch out for are as follows:

  • Giardia – is a parasitic infection that can affect both dogs and humans. It is spread through Giardia cysts, these can be found in faeces and can continue to live outside the body in infected/contaminated water. Affected dogs can have explosive, foul smelling diarrhoea, if the infection is acute, or just soft stools intermittently for more chronic infections. See your vet if your dog is unwell. Giardia can be diagnosed through faecal testing.
    If you have heard that another dog, in close contact with your dog, has had Giardia, you can easily protect your dog. As a preventative measure, dogs can be treated for three consecutive days with an all-wormer containing fenbendazole (Drontal of Popantel F once daily for three consecutive days). If any family members are unwell with similar symptoms then seek medical advice.
  • Worms – Intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms that infect dogs, cats, and other domestic pets can be transmitted to people. Intestinal worming of pets is very effective in preventing the spread of worms to humans.
  • Ringworm – is a type of fungal infection that infects both animals and humans. Similar to tinea, ringworm causes the skin to itch and sting. Humans can come into contact with ringworm via an animal or directly from soil.
  • Sarcoptes – Sarcoptes are parasitic mites that burrow beneath the skin causing irritation and itching. The infection caused by Sarcoptes is known as ‘Sarcoptic Mange’. When a human comes into contact with an affected animal, they can become infected with these mites. Minimal handling of affected pets and immediate treatment is the best way to prevent the transmission of these parasites.

If you’ve determined that it’s nothing too bad, and you feel like you don’t need to see a Vet.
What home remedies are available to treat a dog’s sore tummy at home?

There are many things you can do to keep your dog comfortable and help your pup to better help at home. Some ideas are listed below:

  • Keep your dog hydrated – just having water available may not be enough is your pup is not feeling well enough to go grab a drink themselves. You may need to feed your pup ice chips every few hours just to make sure they are keeping their fluids up. Once you see your pup drinking on their own there is nothing to worry about.
  • Try and figure out what has made your pup have a sore tummy – if you know that your dog has eaten something that don’t normally, or something that they shouldn’t, you can rest a little easier that it’s not something sinister and will shortly pass. Giving your dog human food can make them not feel so well, as the fat and salt content in our foods is really not good for them. No matter how much they beg, try not to share your food with them.
  • Change your dog’s diet – it is entirely normal for canines to go without food for periods of time, between 12-24 hours. (This recommendation is only for dogs over a year old, puppies are different, puppies should never go long periods of time without food.) Enabling your adult dog to fast will allow your dog’s gastrointestinal tract to rest and recover if inflamed. They probably don’t feel like eating anyway. When you do reintroduce foods, try to make the food as bland as possible. You will want to give them 75% boiled rice, with cooked white chicken meat (no skin or bones) or extra lean cooked meat, make sure not to add any oils, fats or spices to the bland diet. Gradually increase the amount of food you give your dog, starting with a tablespoon and waiting two hours. If your dog can keep that down, continue to increase the amount of food to 1/2 – 1 cup of bland diet every three or four hours. Once your dog seems to be doing better, you can gradually add in his or her regular food until he is eating 100% of his regular diet again.
  • Bone broth – is very healing for dogs. Simmer meat (on the bone) with apple cider vinegar and water in a pot. It will take about a day to make bone broth, so it’s best to make ahead and freeze. Be sure to skim off any fat before freezing.
  • Probiotics – once your dog is able to eat and appears to be feeling better, you can consider giving him or her unsweetened, plain yogurt that contains probiotics or a dog probiotic. Probiotics contain living gut-friendly bacteria found naturally in the digestive tract. The goal of ingesting probiotics is to prevent gastrointestinal problems and boost your dog’s immune system.
  • Discourage your dog from eating grass – It appears that some dogs have an innate drive to eat grass when their stomach is upset. Some people think the dog is trying to induce vomiting by ingesting grass, but not all vets agree on this. What veterinarians DO agree on, however, is that many lawns are treated with fertilizers and other chemicals, making it unsafe for canine consumption. If your dog loves eating grass, like Ishi does for some reason, grow some organic wheat grass at home for them to eat. That way you can be assured that it is not covered in nasty chemicals and is safe for them.
  • Clean your dog’s bedding/environment – just like us, when you’re sick there is nothing worst than smelling icky smells. So, freshen up your dogs bedding, don’t forget their noses are a lot better than ours. Cleaning their bedding also ensures that if it is a nasty virus/bug they don’t get re-infected, and you can keep your family safe.

While these home remedies can help your dog feel better, they in no way should be a substitute for veterinarian care. There are many reasons your dog could be sick, and only your vet can pinpoint the probable cause and recommend a proper course of treatment.

And, just like every pharmaceutical advertisement in existence, “if symptoms persist please consult a medical practitioner”. In seriousness though, things can change so quickly, and your dog can’t talk to let you know that they are feeling worse. So, if your pup is not getting better quick enough, or you feel like your dog is deteriorating, the best advice we can give is to please see your vet as soon as possible.

If you are looking for a pawesome vet I, and subsequently FurBaby, highly recommend Vogue Vets. There are many reasons why we stand behind this veterinary clinic, but mainly it is because it is family owned and operated, ensuring that each pet receives the same love and care they give their own animals. I think there is nothing worst than having a sick pet, as they can’t talk to you and tell you what is wrong. So, you need to be able to trust your vet will thoroughly investigate and try their hardest to find out exactly how to make your furbaby better. I have been using Vogue Vets for over seven years now for Ishi & Suki and find the care given by all their staff just amazing and second to none. The best thing is, being a small business you get to see the same staff members time and time again, making it feel like a family where they really take the time to know you and your pet.

Big thanks to Dr Fran for helping me with this article. If you wanted to ask any further questions about your dog’s sore tummy you can all Dr Fran at:

Vogue Vets & Wellness Centre – Stirling, 5/36 Cedric Street – (08) 6323 2916

Cuddles to your furbaby!
Love Shari – FurBaby Owner xx