Last Updated on July 6, 2021 by adrienne hardwick
Indigestion sucks for us, but think about your dog. They can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong, and there is nothing worse than seeing them in pain or discomfort. So, when indigestion strikes your canine companion, what are you supposed to do?
To treat dog indigestion, make sure you starve them for 24-hours (if they are adult and healthy), give them ice chips to chew on every few hours instead of water, and try canned pumpkin or bone broth to settle their stomachs.
If you want to learn more about what indigestion is for dogs, why it happens, and the ways in which you can treat it, make sure you read below for all the answers you need.
What is Indigestion for Dogs?
Your dog has a pretty standard and unvaried diet, a lot like many humans. As a result, this leaves them susceptible to stomach conditions like indigestion. You might think that they have an iron gut much like the wolves that they are descended from – but you’d be wrong.
After centuries of domestication and selective breeding, the modern-day dog has a much more sensitive stomach than the wild ones that came before. But what is indigestion in dogs? Well, it’s simply a standard case of gastric distress.
It is usually caused by the wrong food, too much food in general, or too much of a specific food. As a result, they get stomach issues that manifest in the form of nausea, heartburn, and acid reflux.
Why Does Indigestion Occur in Dogs?
There are three main gastric issues that tend to cause indigestion in dogs. The first is the inflammation of the stomach, which can cause muscle contractions that tend to lead to vomiting. It is perhaps one of the most common forms of canine indigestion.
You also have inflammation of the intestine. This causes muscle contractions within the intestines that speed the contents of their stomach through the digestive tract. As a result, there is not enough time for the fluids to be properly absorbed back into the intestines – diarrhoea.
Finally, there is the excessive buildup of acid in the stomach. Acid is important because it breaks down the food that we eat for digestion. However, when the body starts to produce too much acid that is when indigestion occurs.
When this happens, pressure builds up in their gut which can cause pain, discomfort, and bloating. Your dog’s body will then try to alleviate this through any means possible, and this can result in vomiting and diarrhoea.
Signs and Symptoms of Dog Indigestion
If you are worried your dog might be suffering from a bout of indigestion, there are several signs and symptoms that you can keep an eye out for.
#1 Weight Loss
If your dog is suffering from regular indigestion, they are going to have a great deal of gastric discomfort. They might have trouble eating, go off their food, or make hacking sounds when they do try to eat. Over time, this lack of food and nutrition will lead to weight loss.
#2 Lip Smacking and Gulping
If you notice that your dog is gulping a lot and licking their lips obsessively, this is a common sign that they are about to vomit. You may also notice that they are drooling more and producing a lot of saliva before vomiting.
#3 Stomach Bloat
This is not always noticeable, but if their stomach is distended then that is a sign that something is wrong. You can try gently feeling their stomach, and if they whimper, cry, or become distressed by your touch then you know that they are in pain.
#4 Diarrhoea and Vomiting
This is self-explanatory but important to note because it is one of the most obvious signs that your dog is sick and in distress.
Read more here on some of the natural remedies I have found that is great to help your dog if they are suffering from nausea.
#5 Bad Breath
If you notice that your dog has especially pungent and acidic breath, it is likely caused by the buildup of excess acid in their body. This extends to their vomit which can also smell especially acidic afterwards if it was caused by indigestion.
#6 Behaviour Changes
Things like lethargy, low energy levels, and becoming a little snappy when they are usually very gentle are common signs that your dog is suffering. The snappiness in particular usually indicates that they are in pain.
#7 Eating Grass
When a dog eats grass they are actually self-medicating. They usually eat it when they have an upset stomach so that they can clear their system and settle their digestive system. Grass can also be used for flushing out parasites – a little bit of bonus information for you there.
While gas is normal in dogs and some breeds are gassier than others, an excess of gas tends to indicate that your dog’s stomach is trying to relieve pressure – which can be caused by indigestion amongst other things.
Treating Your Dog’s Indigestion
There are several things you can do to treat your dog’s indigestion. Each of them is easy to do, and many can be done from the comfort of your home.
Usually, indigestion is a single incident and does not reoccur regularly. In cases like this, it can be a good idea to wait it out and withhold food from your pup for 24-hours until the symptoms cease and they settle. However, this can only be done for healthy adult dogs.
#2 Ice Chips
It’s tempting to give your dog a full bowl of water when they are suffering from sickness and indigestion. However, while hydration is important, too much water can make things worse. Ice chips are easy for your dog to chew and also keep them hydrated.
#3 Canned Pumpkin
A small spoon of canned pumpkin can be a game-changer for a dog that is struggling with indigestion. It helps to slow the absorption of nutrients while also firming stools and alleviating digestive discomfort.
#4 Bone Broth (Unseasoned)
While this does tend to take a day to make, once it is done you can freeze it and whip it out whenever your dog is feeling the pains of indigestion (or general stomach issues). It is naturally soothing and delicious for them as well as a good source of hydration.
#5 New Diet
If your dog’s indigestion is caused by the buildup of gastric acid, changing their diet might be your best bet to avoid it from happening repeatedly. Usually, this means switching to a diet that is low in both fat and protein, but make sure you consult your vet before making changes.
Sometimes, natural remedies are not enough. If your dog is in pain or discomfort, speak with your vet and see what they can offer to help. They will be able to provide you with excellent medications that will alleviate the symptoms and leave them feeling much happier.
Natural Antacid for Dogs
A lot of the time, your dog is suffering from indigestion due to something in their diet. Therefore, it is first important to get an allergy test done with your vet so that you can remove the offending ingredients from their diet.
Probiotics are one of the best natural antacids for dogs. They improve gut health, reduce the amount of acid (as well as the discomfort it causes) and can be added to their diet in powder form to make life easier. They can even boost the immune system.
You can also add digestive enzymes to their food. These help your dog to break down fats and proteins that normally cause bouts of indigestion. It is gentle on their digestive system and keeps stomach acids at an optimal level.
A raw diet has been recommended by many dog owners who also have dogs that get indigestion regularly. While this is not something that will work for everyone, it does offer a healthy and balanced diet. Just make sure you consult your vet before you make any changes.
Can I give my dog Gaviscon?
Definitely, you can give your dog Gaviscon to help with indigestion. Many vets will prescribe it for use, but it is important you ask your vet for the correct dosage to give your dog before administering it yourself. Too much could make them incredibly sick.
Can I give my dog Rennie tablets?
Absolutely, if you want to give your fog Rennie tablets you are able to. Just make sure you consult your vet first to ensure you are giving them the correct dosage. It is essential you do not estimate the dosage yourself as you could make your dog sick. Take a look at the price of these Rennie tablets, you just can’t beat it.
Can I give my dog omeprazole?
You can give your dog omeprazole but remember it is always prescribed by a vet. This ensures they are getting the correct dose for their needs. If you have some human stuff leftover it can seem tempting to give it to them, but you don’t know if it’s the right quantity.
Indigestion isn’t nice for anyone – human or dog. Now that you know the signs and how to treat it, you’ll be more than prepared if your pup is hit with a case of indigestion. Just remember, always speak to your vet before administering medications of any kind.
If you found this chapter in our canine care series interesting, you should check out the rest of our guides. To help you become the best dog owner possible, we cover everything from health and diet all the way to training, tricks, behaviour, and grooming.
For over a decade, Adrienne has been a freelance content writer and blogger who’s passion lies in anything related to dogs. Growing up, dogs were a very important part of family life in the Hardwick household. Now, Adrienne is the proud parent to two Swedish Vallhunds called Moose and Pumpkin.