Help: My Pet has an Upset Stomach!

Lea Jaratz

Pet Stomach Ache

Pets have super guts that often tolerate eating things that would send people to the ER in minutes. But nearly every pet will experience some form of digestional distress at some point. A large number of the claims Embrace Pet Insurance processes are for tummy troubles. Fortunately, not every upset tummy requires a trip to the vet and most minor issues can be treated at home.

Diarrhea

Own a pet long enough and you’ll inevitably have to clean up a mess or have a dog wake you up at 3am with an “emergency.” However, most cases of diarrhea can be linked to diet. Did your dog get into something nasty? Maybe just eat too much grass? Did you change their food without transitioning?

Hindsight is 20/20, but a little loose stool is generally manageable at home:

If your pet is otherwise healthy you can offer them small amounts of water, but allow them to fast for 12-24 hours and then slowly introduce a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice. Pets may also like the taste of the water from the boiling of rice, so offer that as well. Talk to a vet before fasting a very young, very old, or otherwise sick pet.

  • Other binding foods that your pet may like are cottage cheese, yogurt, canned pumpkin (plain, not the pie filling), and boiled, skinless potatoes.
  • Dogs may take over-the-counter medications like Pepto-Bismol (1 teaspoon per 10 pounds every 6-8 hours) but do not offer Pepto-Bismol (or anything else with aspirin) to a cat.
  • If your pet begins to vomit, appears lethargic, dehydrated, or shows other symptoms, call your vet right away. They may want you to bring in a stool sample.
  • Seek veterinary care immediately if your pet’s stool becomes bloody or black.
  • If you and your pet have followed all the diet rules and the symptoms don’t stop after the fasting, allergies and food intolerances can still cause diarrhea. You’ll want to schedule a checkup to rule out any diseases and figure out your next step.

Constipation

It’s much easier for a pet’s constipation to go unnoticed. Some pets may cry out or strain when they defecate, but it’s not unusual for pets to hide pain, especially during a moment of vulnerability. If your pet isn’t having at least one bowel movement per day, they’re likely constipated.

Before you call the vet, consider some of the likely causes of dog or cat constipation:

  • Insufficient fiber or water intake, perhaps as a result of a dry-food only diet. This can often be resolved by adding wet food into their diet, or even a little tuna water on their kibble. Some pets are enticed to drink more from a pet water fountain.
  • Probiotics, canned pumpkin, or even green beans can provide some dietary benefits for constipated pets. Some pet parents swear by psyllium husk or aloe vera juice for their pets with chronic constipation.
  • Obesity or insufficient exercise can lead to real problems in the gut. Make sure your pet gets exercise at least once per day. Consider replacing a portion of their food with canned green beans, which will offer more fiber and bulk but reduce their caloric intake.
  • Too much self-grooming or licking other pets can cause hair to build up in the digestive tract. Offer a hairball remedy or even a dab of coconut oil on their food to help things through.
  • If your pet appears uncomfortable, starts vomiting, or shows other symptoms, seek treatment right away, as it could be underlying illness or a blockage.

Have you had a pet that suffered from occasional or chronic digestive issues? Did you ever figure out the culprit and what was the fix?

While you can't predict when your pet is going to get sick or injured, you can protect yourself from expensive veterinary bills. Embrace Pet Insurance gives you the freedom to do what’s best for your pet without stressing over the cost. Easily personalize your coverage to fit your budget and your pet’s needs, then visit any vet for nose-to-tail coverage. Check out what the Embrace plan covers or compare pet insurance providers to learn more.