Does your dog gobble down their food before you even finish filling their bowl? Is your dog burping after every meal? Or does your pup throw up often after eating? If these things are the norm, your dog could have indigestion. Instead of expecting to clean up yet another puddle of vomit, there are things you can do to ease your pal’s discomfort.
Your dog’s indigestion can cause various symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, gagging, frequent burping, or stomach bloat. Visit your vet to eliminate underlying issues like GERD or Canine Bloat (GDV). To help alleviate indigestion, encourage slower eating, try canned pumpkin, and talk to your vet about a diet change. Your dog may also need medications to help with their gastric issues.
Does My Dog Have Indigestion?
It’s hard for some people to understand how dogs get indigestion. You hear stories about dogs that swallow socks, pieces of toys, and garbage and do just fine. These tales of unusual doggy diet mishaps lead many to believe that dogs have tough stomachs and digestive systems.
But your dog is susceptible to gastric issues just like you are. Indigestion happens when your dog overeats or eats too fast. It also can occur if your dog eats a new food or a specific type of food.
Indigestion happens for one of three primary reasons: stomach inflammation, excessive stomach acid, or intestinal inflammation.
- Stomach Inflammation — Your pup’s stomach muscles contract, leading to vomiting.
- Excessive Stomach Acid — Your dog uses stomach acid like humans to break down food and convert it into waste and essential nutrients. But if your dog’s stomach makes too much stomach acid, this leads to indigestion.
- Intestinal Inflammation — The muscles in your dog’s intestines contract and send food through too quickly. Therefore, the intestines have no time to absorb the fluid adequately, leading to diarrhea.
Signs of Dog Indigestion
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, stomach issues are common in dogs. Various issues can manifest similar symptoms, so it’s always important to visit your veterinarian if your pup has problems.
If you suspect your dog has indigestion, you’ll likely notice the following signs:
- Appetite and weight loss — Your pup might not want to eat as much when they have so many challenges around their mealtimes.
- Eating lots of grass — Eating grass could be your dog trying to self-medicate.
- Licking or smacking lips, excessive drooling — If your dog is about to vomit, saliva production increases to help protect the mouth, throat, and teeth. This increase in saliva leads to your dog gulping, lip-smacking, etc.
- Stomach or throat gurgling — Due to the build-up of stomach acid, you could hear gurgling in your dog’s stomach. The acid can also seep into the esophagus leading to a gurgling sound in the throat.
- Dry heaving — Your dog wants to vomit, but nothing comes out.
- Bad breath — True, dogs are notorious for having, well, doggy breath. But before you toss them a minty treat, take a closer whiff. Frequent vomiting and bile or stomach acid buildup make your dog’s breath exceptionally unpleasant.
- Bloated stomach — You might notice your pup’s stomach distended, and they could even whimper or react when you touch their stomach.
- Vomiting and diarrhea — Your dog’s body is trying to relieve their gastric discomfort.
- Behavioral changes — When your dog starts acting differently, this should always be a red flag that something is going on. A dog with indigestion might start acting more lethargic than usual. Or, your dog might become restless and pace frequently.
- Flatulence or burping frequently — Similar to doggy breath, passing gas is many dogs’ favorite thing to do. But if you notice it’s happening more than usual, or your pal burps a lot, pay close attention. These are good signs that your dog’s tummy is trying to relieve extra pressure.
Tips for Reducing Dog Vomit, Indigestion, and Gastric Discomfort
Nobody wants to see their dog in discomfort or pain. Your poor pup is likely miserable if they can’t eat dinner without having a bloated stomach or diarrhea. Luckily, you can do several things at home to help ease your dog's indigestion.
Is Your Dog’s Indigestion a One-Time Deal?
If indigestion isn’t a frequent issue for your dog (maybe they got a hold of something they shouldn’t have), wait a bit. Observe your pal to see if they can get rid of the offending food on their own, and avoid feeding them for 12 to 24 hours.
Avoid giving your dog a bowl of water if they’re vomiting or have diarrhea. Excess water can exacerbate the problem. Instead, offer ice chips so they can still hydrate without increasing their water intake too much.
Many vets recommend offering your dog some canned pumpkin to help relieve gastric issues, including diarrhea and constipation. Check with your vet about the proper amount to give your dog. Also, make sure you get plain pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. Otherwise, you’re also feeding your dog a mix of sugar and spices (which isn’t everything nice when it comes to indigestion).
Relieving Frequent Dog Indigestion
The above tips also work well if your dog regularly deals with indigestion to help relieve symptoms. However, if indigestion is common for your pup, you also need to make broader changes.
Visit the Vet — A trip to your vet is imperative to assess your dog’s condition. Take note of your dog’s symptoms and how often they occur so you can give your vet an accurate picture of what’s happening.
Change Your Dog’s Diet — Your vet might recommend a diet change. But don’t switch your pal to their new diet immediately. Instead, offer small amounts gradually. Mix it with their former food, over time reducing the amount of the former food and increasing the amount of the new food.
Encourage Your Dog to Eat Slower — Eating more slowly can help alleviate your dog’s stomach issues. When your dog eats fast, they’re likely to swallow excess air, leading to unpleasant consequences. They also can’t digest their food correctly if they’re gulping it down whole.
Use bowls like The Niner or other slow-feed bowls that encourage slower eating. For example, The Niner features nine raised bumps that spread out your dog’s food into tiny pockets. Your dog has to work around these obstacles as they eat, providing mental stimulation and a safer eating pace.
Under Pressure: Taking Care of Your Dog’s Indigestion
A few changes in your dog’s eating habits can go a long way to relieving their indigestion. But if the problem persists or worsens, schedule a follow-up with your veterinarian. Sometimes other things are at play below the surface that could be causing your dog’s burps, heaves, and other issues.
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