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Signs Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach (And What to Do)

Veterinary background providedby Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM 

dog with upset stomach

Last updated: February 16, 2024 

Why do Dogs Eat Grass? | Poisoning in Dogs

Think your dog might have an upset stomach? Is your dog’s stomach gurgling and they have diarrhea? Do they have a pained look on their face and aren’t enthusiastic about eating like normal? Do they ask to go outside and start eating grass? 

If your pet has any or all of these symptoms, they may be experiencing an upset in their gastrointestinal tract. We compiled the top five signs of an upset stomach in dogs to look for and when you should consult your veterinarian.

Your dog’s stomach is gurgling 

A dog’s gastrointestinal tract can be quite noisy. Proper digestion can sometimes make noises, but that doesn’t necessarily point to a problem. Some normal reasons for dog stomach gurgling are: 

  • Diet changes 
  • Increased appetite
  • Excess gas  
  • Increased stress 

However, stomach gurgling is something to watch closely because it may be an indicator of a more serious health issue. It can also be a sign that your pup is experiencing a stomach ache.  So, if you notice your dog’s stomach is gurgling, keep an eye out for any other abnormal symptoms. You may also want to examine your pet for any abdominal changes, like swelling or tenderness to the touch.

Your dog is eating grass

Why do dogs eat grass? People have debated whether dogs eat grass when they have an upset stomach. Some think dogs eat grass to induce vomiting, while others think dogs just like eating grass and then, as a result, vomit after eating it. Both arguments could be right; it depends on the dog.

Regardless of the reason your dog is eating grass, make sure they avoid eating chemically treated grass. If your dog eats toxic plants or chemically treated grass, this could potentially lead to more health issues if left untreated. The bottom line is, if your dog’s stomach is making noises and they’re eating grass, it’s likely they’re experiencing a stomach issue and should be seen by a veterinarian.

Your dog is experiencing behavioral changes

Some behavioral changes in dogs to look for are:

  • Excessive salivation 
  • Standing in a praying posture with their front end on the floor while keeping their rear end raised in the air  
  • Lethargy  
  • Out-of-character behavior, such as being upset, irritated, or not wanting to be touched
  • Appearing in pain and can’t seem to lie down or get comfortable 
  • New or unusual changes in eating and drinking habits 

These can all be subtle signs of a stomach ache in dogs.

Vomiting and unusual dog poop  

Vomiting and diarrhea are two of the most obvious signs that your dog is experiencing stomach trouble. Sometimes, this is not an indication of a serious medical condition, but it can raise alarm bells. 

Sometimes, vomiting and diarrhea could mean your pet is experiencing something more serious. A few things to look out for include: 

  • Inability to keep food down 
  • Signs of discomfort or pain 
  • Complete loss of appetite 
  • Consistently soft stool 
  • Rapid weight loss 

Other signs of stomach problems can be constipation or a change in the color of your dog’s stool. If you find blood in dog poop or if it’s tar-black or contains mucus, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Excessive gas

Some dogs tend to have more gas than others. However, excessive gas can be a symptom of an upset stomach or bowel problems. If there are no other symptoms, extra gas may just be a side effect of something your dog ate, and there is no cause for concern.

Best food for a dog with an upset stomach 

You might be wondering, “What can I give my dog for an upset stomach?” It can be worrying or frustrating when your dog’s tummy is upset. Here are some recommendations on food your dog can eat when they have an upset stomach to help them feel better.

Rice and boiled chicken

This bland meal can provide good nutrition for your dog and can help ease an upset stomach. Make sure the chicken is boneless and there isn’t any seasoning or salt added. Consult your veterinarian before adding any new foods to your pet’s diet to make sure they’re appropriate for them. 

Scrambled eggs and sweet potatoes

This is another protein and carbohydrate combination that is bland enough for your pet to consume with an upset stomach. Make sure the sweet potato is cooked and peeled and there are no added seasonings. And always consult your vet before introducing new foods to your pup.

Banana or pumpkin

Bananas and pumpkins are both rich in fiber and can help treat diarrhea. Try introducing them to these fruits in small amounts, either alone or mixed into their food. If you choose to go with canned pumpkin or banana baby food, make sure they have nothing added to them. 

If you’re not sure how well your dog will respond to food, fasting may be an option. When done for short amounts of time, it may help flush out toxins and give your dog’s digestive system a rest. While fasting can be beneficial, do not let your dog go long without food. Contact your veterinarian about fasting to determine if it’s appropriate and for how long your particular dog can safely fast. Your dog should always have fresh water during the fast to avoid dehydration. 

If your dog’s tummy troubles don’t seem to get better after a few days or they have ingested something potentially life-threatening, seek emergency medical treatment or call the pet poison control hotline at 1-855-764-7661 as soon as possible. Being proactive by keeping toxic items away from your dog and closely monitoring your dog’s behavior is the best way to help them maintain good health. 

Reasons your dog may get an upset stomach 

Just like humans, an upset stomach in dogs can happen for various reasons. Here are some common causes:


Animals can experience stress in the same way that humans do. If there have been major changes in your household or if you recently moved, this could cause stress for your pet. When dogs are feeling stressed or anxious, they may exhibit symptoms such as excessive gas or diarrhea. Sometimes dogs get stressed when they’re exposed to loud noises, such as fireworks, or are separated from their owners for a long time. If you’re taking a trip, long car rides can also cause your pet to have motion sickness. That can cause a queasy stomach and behavioral changes.

Diet changes

Changes in your dog’s eating routine can cause digestive problems. Especially during holidays and family gatherings, make sure your dog stays away from leftover food. It’s also a good idea to keep their feeding times consistent.  If you’re switching to a new dog food, make sure there is a transition period. This means that you slowly mix the new food into the old food to give your dog’s digestive system a chance to adjust. 

Ingesting toxic foods, drinks, or medications

Dogs will eat pretty much anything, and unfortunately, that includes items that are toxic to dogs. Alcohol, caffeine, medications, or certain human foods like grapes or chocolate can be extremely toxic and even deadly. Ingesting human medications can be extremely harmful and may even cause death. If you think your dog has ingested something toxic, don’t wait for signs of stomach upset—call your vet immediately.

Underlying health problems

While many causes of stomach upset are benign, gastrointestinal trouble can also be a sign of other serious issues, like:

    • Pancreatitis 
    • Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus—aka bloat in dogs
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
    • A gastrointestinal blockage 
    • Ulcers 
    • Gastrointestinal infection 
    • Giardia 
    • Parvovirus 
    • An allergy to food  
    • Diabetes 
    • Liver or kidney disease  
    • Certain cancers 
    • Intestinal parasites 

When to consult your vet on an upset stomach in dogs

You should always consult your vet if your dog:

  • Is a young puppy or senior dog
  • Has a fever 
  • Has severe diarrhea and vomiting   
  • Has blood in their stool or vomit 
  • Has been displaying symptoms for over 24 hours that appear to be worsening
  • Refuses to eat or drink and appears dehydrated 
  • Your dog is experiencing any symptoms of a blockage or bloat 
  • Is in obvious pain 

Don’t hesitate—take your dog to your vet or an emergency clinic immediately. Petco’s Vital Care is the ideal solution for many pet parents. Check out the Merck Veterinary Manual for more information. 

What to expect when you take your dog to the vet

When you take your dog in for stomach issues, your vet will most likely perform the following procedures, depending on the symptoms: 

  • Bloodwork 
  • A fecal and urinalysis 
  • X-rays 
  • A physical examination 
  • An ultrasound 
  • An endoscopy 
  • Intravenous fluid therapy 

Depending on the diagnosis, your vet may prescribe medication for you to take home. These may be antidiarrheal medicines, probiotics, antacids, medications for nausea, or medication that can help coat and protect your dog’s stomach lining. They may also want you to change their diet. 

If the situation is severe, your vet may also elect to do surgery. This is why you should never wait if your dog is presenting alarming symptoms—when it comes to emergency surgery, every second counts. Bringing your pet in sooner rather than later may also prevent the need for surgery in the first place. 

How to prevent an upset stomach in dogs  

The best way to treat gastrointestinal problems in dogs is to prevent them. Here are some tips: 

  • Try to keep their diet consistent and change brands slowly to help them adjust 
  • Try not to skip yearly vet visits 
  • Talk to your vet about deworming treatments and preventives  
  • Avoid giving your dog human food and make sure you’re aware of which human food can be toxic to them 
  • Talk to your vet about ways to reduce your pet’s stress levels  
  • Keep an eye out for potential toxic items during walks or when visiting a friend or family member 

Being proactive about your pet’s health also means being ready for emergencies. Get the best pet insurance for your best friend to have more peace of mind about protecting your pet’s health.

Insure Your Dog Today!

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