Though it’s not pleasant, dogs can experience upset tummies too, just like people. When they do, they will often naturally gravitate towards eating grass. Though it seems abnormal and you might wonder what’s so tasty about that grass, it’s a natural behavior that can alleviate discomfort when a dog’s tummy is feeling sick.

Eating grass is an instinctual, protective response that dogs engage in when they suffer from something that doesn’t agree with their digestive system. Dogs eat grass to clean out their intestinal tract and get rid of any foreign matter that may be causing their upset.

However, sometimes they could be even too sick to do even that. If your dog is too sick to eat grass and make attempts to resolve the upset on his own, you may have to look to other methods to treat his tummy woes. Whatever you try, be sure to consult your vet first, to make sure it is safe for your dog.

Causes of Upset Stomach in Dogs

As with most health ailments, dogs can experience an upset stomach for a variety of reasons. Because of the number of potential culprits, it can be difficult to narrow down exactly what may be causing your pup to feel so icky. However, there are a few common causes of upset stomach in dogs. These include:

Food Changes

Most dogs will eat just about anything that you give them. True, there are some dogs that seem to be more particular and picky, but in general, dogs like to eat just about everything.

The problem with eating anything and everything is that sometimes their tummies don’t like what they’ve eaten. Some dogs can have sensitive guts, and even small changes in their diet can mess with their system and make them sick.

One way to combat this is if you are attempting to change their food, mix two different formulas together. Then you can slowly phase the old one out over a period of time, rather than making an abrupt change.

Table Scraps and Spoiled Food

Another way to avoid an upset stomach in dogs is to not feed your dog table scraps. This is especially important if his stomach is sensitive. When dogs have a delicate constitution, you never know what might trigger an upset, and sometimes people food is a little too rich for their digestive systems.

An additional thing to watch out for is your dog getting into the trash and consuming food that may be spoiled. Canines, like humans, can become violently sick from eating spoiled or contaminated meats and veggies. And what dog doesn’t like to root around in the garbage? Unfortunately, this makes rotten food a common trigger for an upset stomach.

Eating Too Fast or Slow

Sometimes, dogs can simply get sick because they eat too much. Just like you and I can overeat, dogs can too, and they may pay for it later. On other occasions, it’s possible for your dog not to eat enough, and then feel sick because of it.

Other times, maybe your dog just ate his food too fast. Puppies are notorious for gobbling down their food quickly, so that’s something to look out for especially in younger canines.

Also, sometimes dogs eat foreign (non-food items) that they shouldn’t, such as plastic, fuzz, and whatever else they come across that they find intriguing. Foreign objects in your dog’s gut can cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal problems.


Sometimes dogs can become dehydrated, and this can cause their stomach to be upset. This seems to be especially common in pups, as it is very easy for their small bodies to become dehydrated.

Dehydration often comes on with a bout of diarrhea, and you may notice that your dog doesn’t seem interested in drinking his water or have much of an appetite. If you suspect dehydration, you can do a skin pinch test on your dog’s neck.

Skin that remains in a pinched position indicates dehydration. You can also check your dog’s gums, and make sure they appear shiny and wet-looking. If they don’t, dehydration could be the issue.

Stress and Anxiety

Sometimes dogs can just become stressed and anxious, which can upset their tummies. This can rock the balance of bacteria, and trigger vomiting and diarrhea, as well as cause fatigue. Your dog may experience a loss of appetite, and attempt to eat grass to soothe his stomach. Sometimes even the weather can trigger an upset stomach, especially in the case of thunderstorms and dogs who may be afraid of thunder.


Your dog could also contract a virus that is making him sick. Especially if his stomach upset seems particularly virulent, with explosive diarrhea or hard-core vomiting. This can be an indication his problem is viral.

The parvovirus, as well as the coronavirus, are particularly nasty little agents of illness for dogs. If you suspect any type virus, it is important to see your vet. He may not need medications, but your dog could still require treatment in the form of fluids to help him stay hydrated until the virus runs its course.

Underlying Illness

Dogs often get sick to their stomach because of some underlying health issue that you may or may not be aware of. Pancreatitis can sometimes be an underlying health concern, especially if your dog appears to be in severe pain and is running a fever.

Stomach ulcers are also a common culprit, and one indicator of that could be whether your dog appears to have blood in his vomit. Digested blood will look like old coffee grounds, only smell much worse!

Sometimes dogs experience bloat, also called torsion, which causes their belly to become bloated and tender, and then they get very sick.

Signs and Symptoms of Upset Stomach in Dogs

Dogs can present with many indicators of an upset stomach, with two of the most common being diarrhea and vomiting.

Other signs of upset stomach in dogs may include:

  • Constipation or trouble defecating.
  • Signs of blood, either in your dog’s feces or sometimes in his urine and vomit.
  • Fatigue and lethargy.
  • A stomach that looks hard or distended, and appears painful.
  • Dehydration, which you can check by the elasticity of his skin, and by examining his gums. If they look dry and pale, without a moist coating, then your dog could need fluids.
  • Sometimes dogs may drool if they are feeling nauseous.
  • Your dog’s appetite may change and he may not be hungry.
  • Your dog could have gas.
  • Sometimes dogs may run a fever with tummy upset.

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, you will need to keep a careful watch over your pooch, and if things aren’t improved within 24 hours, a trip to the veterinarian is in order.

Treating Dogs with Upset Stomach

There are many ways to treat an upset stomach, but it all depends on what is causing the upset in the first place. If your dog appears to be extremely ill, then taking him to the vet is your best move.

Your vet can prescribe antibiotics as well anti-fungal or bacterial medications if needed. Your vet can also administer fluids if your dog is extremely dehydrated, and they can give you specific recommendations based on your dog’s needs.

However, if your dog’s upset tummy appears to be a mild case, there are other ways to treat his symptoms and keep him comfortable while the illness runs its course, which will allow you to skip the expensive vet visit.

Pepto Bismol™ and Imodium®

For a mild upset stomach or case of diarrhea, sometimes giving your dog Pepto-Bismol™ or Imodium® can be helpful. You will want to call your vet first to make sure it’s safe, as well as obtain the proper dosage for the size of your dog.


Obviously, if your dog’s tummy is upset, giving him food is only going to upset it further. Just like with humans who contract a tummy bug, fasting can provide a period of relief and give your dog’s tummy a bit of time to rest and heal.

You will still need to give your pup fluids and water, but you should do it in very small amounts on a frequent basis, so that he doesn’t consume too much too fast, and make his upset stomach worse.

Fasting is recommended for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, but should only really be used with adult dogs. After the fasting period, you can introduce very bland foods into your dog’s diet very slowly, until you are sure his stomach is back on track and can handle a normal diet.

Plain Unsweetened Yogurt

Yogurt contains probiotics, and dogs that are having tummy issues can always benefit from probiotics. Feeding your dog a tablespoon or two of unsweetened yogurt can be soothing to the gut, and help your dog’s intestinal flora to balance back out.

However, make sure the yogurt is plain, as artificial sweeteners and sweeteners like Xylitol can be very dangerous for your canine friend.

Bananas and Pumpkin

Adding foods like bananas and pumpkin into your dog’s diet can be beneficial to an upset stomach too. Pumpkin is very high in fiber, so it can help with bowel problems and keep him moving properly, plus it is loaded with antioxidants.

Bananas are loaded with many nutrients too, including potassium and vitamin C, and they can boost your dog’s immune system, inhibit the growth of bacteria, and provide essential electrolytes that help prevent dehydration.

Try a Bland Diet

Foods that are recommended for a dog on a bland diet include boiled rice, white meat chicken with no bones or skin, or lean and drained hamburger. Do not season this type of food, or add anything extra at all. Remember, the goal is bland!

You can offer this mixture to your dog several times a day in three or four small meals, until his digestive issues begin to improve. You can also try adding in the yogurt or pumpkin to this mixture, to give it a fiber and probiotics boost.

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in this recipe, you could also try giving him baby food with meat in it. Just make sure there are no onions or garlic in the recipe, as these are toxic for dogs. Most of the time, baby food is bland enough that it can be eaten on an upset tummy, and dogs seem to like the flavor.


Giving your dog water can cause further upset in a dog that is ill. While it’s important to keep your furry friend hydrated, sometimes water isn’t the best route. You can try offering him ice chips instead. If your dog can tolerate the ice chips well, then you can offer him more a few hours later, and combine it with 1 or 2 teaspoons of water.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is an excellent way to provide minerals and nutrition for dogs that are sick, and it is soothing and healing to their stomach. However, bone broth would need to be made ahead of time and frozen, because it takes at least a day to make it properly. Then you could freeze it into ice cubes, and have on hand whenever your dog gets sick.

Ginger and Oatmeal

Additionally, natural remedies like ginger and oatmeal can be helpful to dogs with an upset stomach. Ginger is well known for its anti-nausea properties, and can also help with gas and bloating.

Oatmeal is great for soothing a stomach that is upset, and provides a variety of vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber. Like yogurt however, avoid oatmeal blends that have sugar, especially artificial sweeteners. Plain is the way to go!

As you can see, there are many potential reasons a dog develops an upset stomach, and there can be many ways to treat it.

Some cases of tummy upset will be milder than others; in some instances, they may even resolve on their own. If you leave your dog alone and let him do what comes naturally, (i.e. eat grass), he will often recover without any help from you. If you feel that fasting, or protocols like the bland diet might help, then there’s nothing wrong with giving it a shot. You want to give your dog the best chance at speedy and full recovery.

However, if your dog appears to be running a fever, or his illness and symptoms seem particularly severe, do not hesitate to take your dog to the vet to rule out more serious conditions like parvo or giardia. Always better to be safe, rather than sorry.

*This article is for informational purposes only. Please see a vet if your pet shows any symptoms.


Comments (25)

  1. Regina Sanchez says:

    I try every kinda healthy & sentsive stomach dog food she picky changes appetite shes chiwawa 5 pounds so picky & goes for hours then nasia then next day fine then repeats this pattern again any advices?

  2. Chris Fry says:

    I would try the baby food. It worked for me.

  3. Lois Canter says:

    Very informative! Will try some of the ideas as needed.

  4. Keveline Novacek says:

    Can i use canned pumpkin or a real pumpkin ??

    • Sean says:

      Hello! Pumpkin can be great for a dog’s digestive system. If you use canned pumpkin, make sure you don’t use pumpkin pie mix or some other canned pumpkin with added sugar, salt and spices. You want to use pure pumpkin with no flavoring. Fresh pumpkin might be a good solution as well, but we do not have any experience using that. It might have to be cooked first to have the same positive effect but we don’t know. We wish you the best!

  5. says:

    Bone broth is the best. kinda healthy & sentsive on my pit stomach

  6. N Hawthorne says:

    My dog had loose stools and was not himself for several days. No fever but just not right. I tried giving him broth and then some Pepto but that didn’t help so I bought some pumpkin baby food and gave him two tablespoons. He never had another loose stool! He is a little Shih Tzu who weighs about 11 pounds. He and his Shih Tzu sister eat a home cooked diet of fresh meat a vegetable a carb and plain yogurt. I’m adding baby food pumpkin and bananas to their diet for a treat and the extra fiber. They are very healthy and love mealtime. I still offer them Royal Canin dry food so they get the vitamins and minerals that provides. They don’t eat much of that though. We give them large raw bones to keep their teeth clean and give them the chewing exercise they need and enjoy. They are sweet lovable babies who make our life happy.

  7. Sherri Rae Clark says:

    What can I give our dog with an upset tummy

    • Sean says:

      Hopefully it’s something that will go away quickly. Try feeding an easily digestible rice and chicken meal while the tummy is hurting. You can also try feeding a few spoonfuls of canned pumpkin. Make sure that it is the plain pumpkin, not the pie mix pumpkin which has sugar and salt. If it does not clear up soon, better head to the veterinarian. Best of luck to you and your pup!

  8. Russell says:

    Best for recommendation for pit bulls??

    • Sean says:

      Hi Russell, if you pit has an upset stomach we’d recommend the same regimen as for other dogs. If it seems like a mild stomach ache, try a bland diet of cooked chicken or hamburg and rice for 1-2 days. Make sure they aren’t eating anything toxic in the yard or house that could cause stomach upset. If your dog is not eating or drinking and/ or is vomiting often, it’s time to go into the veterinarian because those can be serious signs. We wish you the best!

  9. Sue Whitmoyer says:

    My dog, mixed spanial, looks like she is having a seizure, can’t walk right, when I finally get her out side she throws up her food, undigested. It is winter so there isn’t much green grass. I do have one of the dog dishes with groves to slow her down. How can I help her?

  10. April says:

    My dog been vomiting won’t eat 2 days now gave her some banana won’t eat much of it she’s a lab Vets not open till tomorrow I’ve tried changing her food won’t eat at all she’s drank water and little banana she chew it up some of it spit it out

  11. Brenda says:

    I took my chihuahua. I took him into the vet for a pain he was having. They thinks it’s a nerve in his neck. The medication they give him. Made him start bleeding in him pop. I diarrhea as will. I took him back in because he not eating now. How can I get something in him? Going on 2 days now.

    • Sean says:

      Brenda, we are so sorry, what an ordeal for your little guy! Have you tried an unseasoned rice and lean ground beef (or chicken) meal to get her eating?

  12. Lucy says:

    My dog woke me up 3 time trying to tell me she doesn’t feel good! Her stomach was making a lot of noise I gave her some thing to eat and then about an hour later she vomit It up and again later! A little later she was moning! Her stomach was hard I rubbed it alot it seems to help! It’s still making alot of noise! She wet around her mouth!

    • Sean says:

      We are so sorry you two are going through that right now! If it doesn’t clear up by today we’d say time for the veterinarian visit because it could be a serious blockage or other critical digestive issue that will not heal itself. Good luck!!

  13. Julia says:

    My girl has been throwing up for a couple days now. Its like her food isnt digesting and all of it just comes back up. No fever or any other symptoms i can tell. Someone said banana baby food. Would u recommend that or plain yogurt for fast effective results?

  14. India says:

    My dog(a 17 year old miniature Jack Russel) has been vomiting almost every hour. She is completely refusing all foods and I’m really worried. I have managed to get her to drink but she will not get up from her bed. She hasn’t been to the toilet at any point today. We can’t try the chicken and rice remedy because she can’t keep chicken down. What can I do to help her?

  15. Dianne Davis says:

    Can stress and sadness cause upset stomach? My pomchi is losing her friend of 9 yrs to old age…he is 15, she seems concerned about him and is not feeling well..vomiting only foam and refusing to eat…what do you suggest?

  16. Paula Wilt says:

    I have a 9 year old Male boxer that dry heaves all the time ..and if he does throw up it foamy clear or white stuff ..I’ve taken him to vet ..changed food and I give him a antacid 2 times a day ..any other suggestions to help him ?

    • Sean says:

      Hi Paula,

      We are so sorry your pup is sick, that sounds like the worst experience ever. Maybe try a completely different type of food with him? Such as moving to a fresh food? We wish you two the best, hopefully it clears up really soon.

  17. Sara Carter says:

    Also for upset stomach, save the water from the boiled rice and give that to your dog.

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